NSW government to allow public to pump groundwater

The NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands, and Water, Kevin Humphries, has announced that the NSW Government is making limited groundwater publicly available, allowing businesses to access unassigned water in areas where it is currently unavailable.

Mr Humphries said that through a new controlled allocation order, up to five per cent of the total unassigned water will be made available as new licenses in a number of specified groundwater sources, both in the Murray-Darling Basin and coastal areas.

“The NSW Government made a limited volume of groundwater available last year in the same way and this proved to be a very welcome opportunity for groundwater-dependent businesses,” Mr Humphries said.

“In addition to providing opportunities for businesses to expand or develop, this release will generate revenue for the NSW Office of Water to enhance implementation of the Aquifer Interference Policy, which includes expanding their groundwater monitoring network.”

Mr Humphries said that ‘unassigned water’ exists where the volume of water accessible in that water resource is greater than the current water requirements. Under the allocation order, a maximum of five per cent of water excess to requirements in that water source will be made available.

“NSW is the only state that has identified all its major groundwater systems and set individual limits on the amount of water that can be taken from each of them through water sharing plans.”

“Coinciding with the release of additional groundwater, return flow credit rules for groundwater will soon be introduced.”

“This initiative will allow an aquifer access license holder to receive a credit for groundwater returned to the water source it was taken from, as long as it meets water quality and other rules.”

The registration of interest for the groundwater controlled allocation is open until 20 October 2014.
Public information sessions explaining the controlled allocation process and return flow credit rules will be held across the State during this period.

Further information including details of the groundwater sources and volumes available, as well as public information session locations, is available on the NSW Office of Water website.

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