Farmers look at a metering report

The New South Wales Government has announced it will conduct a thorough review into non-urban metering rules to ensure water users across the state are working to be compliant. 

New South Wales Minister for Water, Rose Jackson, said the review will look closely at non-urban metering regulation to accelerate progress on compliance.

“I have instructed the Department of Planning and Environment to begin this work immediately because we know that getting everyone on the same page with non-urban metering rules has been taking too long,” Ms Jackson said.

“This review is happening because the compliance rates for the non-urban metering requirements have been unacceptably low and the switchover has been too slow.

“Let me be clear here – progress has been far too slow and we are committed to ensure everyone complies with the law.

“Nearly five years have passed since these metering rules were put in place and while more than 90 per cent of the largest commercial water users with irrigation pumps bigger than 500mm have jumped onboard, thousands of smaller operators have not – this needs to change.

“We know there are some valid reasons for this including difficulties in accessing the right people to install new meters, supply chain disruptions, the cost of equipment and of course the recent flooding. These are barriers we will be addressing.”

While the review is underway, there will be no change to the regulations and compliance expectations that are already in place and the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has said it will continue to enforce these requirements and will not hesitate to take compliance action against people who refuse to adhere to them. 

‘No meter, no pump’ was a core principle of the Matthew Report and it’s a principle the New South Wales Government has said it is committed to.

“As Minister for Water, I am taking a ‘no meter, no pump’ approach to water extraction, and with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a return to dry conditions by the end of this year, counting every drop of water is critical,” Ms Jackson said.

“Today I am sending a clear message – we are taking compliance seriously and I expect serious consequences for those who do not follow the rules.

“We know our regional and rural areas face more extreme climate challenges, by accurately measuring our water usage we can effectively manage our regional water strategies.

“It’s time to look at ways we can remove speed bumps to compliance and get New South Wales on track in this space because if you can’t measure the amount of water being taken from the system, you can’t manage it properly.

“Importantly, the review will give all water users an opportunity to have their say on how we can improve the way water use is being monitored so that everyone is getting their fair share and those doing the wrong thing are held to account.”

The review into non-urban metering is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.

Water users will be notified well before public consultation gets underway and they are strongly encouraged to provide feedback.

Featured image: Farmers look at a metering report. Image credit: New South Wales Government.

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