A NSW Government website

Extraction limits

Managing groundwater extraction to extraction limits

We sought your comment on how we reduce groundwater access if extraction limits are exceeded in inland groundwater sources.


Based on what we heard, the department will do the following:

  • On 1 July 2021, in groundwater sources where groundwater extraction limits have been exceeded and action is needed to return extraction to the limit, we will reduce the ‘available water determinations’ for the 2021–22 water year.
  • By 1 July 2022, we will further consider stakeholder feedback and undertake additional consultation before preparing and publishing the method the department will use to manage extraction to extraction limits in inland groundwater sources from 1 July 2022 onwards. The method that applies may differ between water sources.
Learn more about What we heard

What is this about?

The amount of groundwater that can be extracted from a groundwater source is limited.

Water sharing plans set long-term average annual extraction limits and Basin Plan sustainable diversion limits.

While the total amount extracted by all water users varies each year, on average it cannot exceed the extraction limits.

Before July each water year, the department assesses the level of extraction in each groundwater source. If average extraction by all water users exceeds the limits set out in the water sharing plan, the department may need to reduce access in the following year/s to return average extraction to the limit. Under the water sharing plans, this can be done by:

  • reducing the amount of water going into accounts (known as an available water determination)
  • reducing the amount of water that can be taken or traded from accounts (known as a maximum water account debit), or
  • a combination of these methods.

The most appropriate approach taken may differ from area to area.

Between November 2020 and March 2021, we sought comment on the method or combination of methods that best suits areas that are most likely to exceed groundwater extraction limits in 2020-21. These areas (groundwater sources) were the:

  • Great Artesian Basin Eastern Recharge
  • Lower Murrumbidgee Deep
  • Upper Macquarie
  • Lower Lachlan
  • Upper Namoi Zone 3
  • Upper Namoi Zone 5
  • Upper Murray

We will seek feedback from other areas in the future if they are likely to exceed their extraction limits.

More information

Find out more and view the information presented at the face-to-face information sessions held around NSW in February 2021.