An Auditor-General’s Report released today examining the NSW Government’s ‘Support for regional town water infrastructure’ is damning and demonstrates a gross dereliction of duty by the Government to manage the state’s precious water resources sustainably and equitably, Greens MP and water spokesperson Cate Faehrmann said.
The report’s key finding was that the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has not effectively supported or overseen town water infrastructure planning in regional NSW since at least 2014. It has also lacked a strategic, evidence-based approach to target investments in town water infrastructure.
“The only conclusion to be reached from this damning report is that the Water Minister isn’t up to the task of ensuring this state’s water resources are managed sustainably and equitably. It’s now up to the Premier to act,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Twenty years ago, the Water Management Act made provision for a strategic water plan for NSW, which the government has failed to do. This is a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Water Minister, particularly as we are talking about making sure that towns don’t run out of water.
“This Report shows that the National Party has failed regional communities. By not developing a water strategy to ensure we could survive the worst droughts, towns ran out of water and many others approached ‘Day Zero’.
“Now, the government’s answer is new dams instead of developing a sustainable water strategy based upon the best science.
“The Report also found that funding through the Safe and Secure Water Program has not been allocated transparently or did not prioritise investing in town water risk. Further, around a third of projects with funds committed to local water utilities were done so without going through the Technical Review Panel process.
“We live on the driest continent on earth and climate change means it’s only going to get drier. It’s clear that the experts knew the risks facing town water supplies and knew what needed to be done, so how can the Water Minister defend such incompetent management of our state’s water?
“Last summer countless regional towns were left facing day zero. I would call on the Premier to consider whether we will be prepared for the next drought if NSW is stuck with a Water Minister asleep at the wheel,” said Ms Faehrmann.