On 1 July 2016 all NSW Water Sharing Plans that commenced in 2004 were replaced and ten new coastal WSPs commenced. A product of the National Water Initiative, WSPs are important as they are legally binding plans that establish rules for access for different types of water use and seek to strike a balance between water users’ rights and the environmental health of the water source. They are also important in meeting NSW obligations under the Murray – Darling Basin Plan. By the end of 2016 all of NSW is expected to be covered by WSPs.
Gwydir Regulated River
Upper Namoi and Lower Namoi Regulated River
Macquarie Regulated River
Lachlan Regulated River
Murrumbidgee Regulated River
NSW Murray and Lower Darling Regulated
Hunter Regulated River
Clyde River Unregulated and Alluvial
Deua River Unregulated and Alluvial
Snowy Genoa Unregulated and Alluvial
South Coast Groundwater
North Coast Fractured and Porous Rock Groundwater WSP – 100% carryover allowed for unused entitlement in Sydney Basin- North Coast and Gloucester Basin and 20% carryover allowed in all other groundwater sources. This is an important change as the Hunter Valley region coal mines are included in this WSP.
Lachlan Regulated River – Prohibits conversions between high security and general security licences because of impacts on water reliability.
Murray Lower Darling Regulated River – Prohibits conversion of licences from one category/sub-category to another.
Hunter Regulated River WSP – An explicit exception to the environmental water allowance to support water-dependent Aboriginal cultural values. These values will be identified by the Aboriginal Water Initiative.
Karuah River WSP – Applications now permitted for Aboriginal Community Development Licences.
A number of the WSPs will come under scrutiny as the NSW Legislative Council’s ‘Inquiry into the augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales’ gathers pace. It will be interesting to hear how the WSPs impact the environment and the people in those areas.
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