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Ensuring integrity in water management

The NSW Government is taking action to ensure the principles of the Water Management Act 2000 are being applied effectively following the findings of a long overdue Section 10 review.

While Section 10 of the Act requires the government to undertake a review every five years to ensure its principles are being considered in the decision-making process, this was the first review undertaken since 2011.

The Section 10 review identified areas of success as well as issues that need to be addressed including uncertainty amongst staff about how to apply the principles in their work and the need to adjust the method of delivering these reviews in the future.

These findings were supported by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) who were added as an independent panel member to ensure a rigorous review. The NRC also provided some additional recommendations including making future reviews independent and revising policies, processes and procedures to ensure they align with the principles in the Act.

In response to the review and the NRC recommendations the department has developed a corrective action plan to address identified actions to help promote the principles of the Act, improve assurance and enable more efficient reviews and reporting.

As part of the plan the Department is developing a detailed framework which will deliver guidance for staff on the principles, a quality management process and an updated review method to ensure they are completed every 5 years.

The Water Management Act is the overarching legislation that guides water policy in NSW and includes general principles, as well as specific principles for water sharing, and other functions.

View the Section 10 report and departmental response.

NSW Minister for Water, Rose Jackson said:

“This review is vital to ensure transparency and accountability around water management in NSW.

“The former Government dropped the ball, eroding trust in water management and letting down local communities.

“With El Nino declared for this summer, we know another drought is not far off, so having strong public confidence in how we manage water is critical.

“The Minns Government is committed to enabling decision making that is guided by science and the principles of the Water Management Act to provide sustainable management of NSW water resources that benefits present and future generations.”

Reed birds nesting area on the Murray River.
Section 10 review to ensure integrity in water management.