The NSW Government is adjusting the start dates for metering rules to ensure farmers can meet strict new metering obligations being rolled out in the Northern Basin, as the drought continues across the state.
Jim Bentley, the Chief Executive of Water at the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said the government recognises that current unprecedented drought conditions will make it impossible for many water users to comply with the metering rules by 1 December 2019.
“We need to ensure that water being used across the state is used fairly, which is why the Government is implementing these metering rules,” Mr Bentley said.
“During our recent metering roadshow, where we spoke to communities right across regional NSW, we heard that water users overwhelmingly support the need for metering reform.
“But for many, severe drought conditions will make it impossible for them to meet their new obligations by the current deadline.
“Up to 97 percent of current water users impacted by new metering rules will have no water allocation, or water flows will not be high enough, to test their meters and confirm they’re operating properly – a key requirement under the new rules.
“Changes to the dates will not affect our commitment to implement the rules in full by the end of 2023, and we will continue to work with landholders and communities to make sure new metering rules are implemented practically and effectively.
The adjusted start dates will be:
- 1 December 2020 – surface water pumps 500mm and above – All regions
- 1 December 2021 – remaining works that require a meter – Northern Inland regions
- 1 December 2022 – remaining works that require a meter – Southern Inland regions
- 1 December 2023 – remaining works that require a meter – Coastal regions
Chief Regulatory Officer for the Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) Grant Barnes, said he expects water users to comply with the law.
“This is not a free pass. Until the new rollout dates come into effect, water users must continue to comply with their existing licence and approval conditions,” Mr Barnes said.
“I encourage water users to check the existing monitoring and recording conditions on their water access licences and the approvals for pumps and other water supply works.
“NRAR will continue to deploy boots on the ground and utilise eyes in the sky to ensure that water users obey the law.”
The system will be fully operational by March 2020. It is also expected that pattern approved meters will be available for all meter size ranges by that date.
There will be no excuse for water users who do not comply because they are waiting on cheaper meters to achieve pattern approval.