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Fast Facts |

Understanding the changes to the NSW Metering Rules for non-urban water users can be a challenge and often the information is spread across a number of Department and industry sources.  We have found, the most central point to visit is WaterNSW Metering page https://www.waternsw.com.au/customer-service/water-licensing/metering#stay

It has the three steps you should take and all the links to the forms, the rules and the Departments Metering Guidance tool which we encourage you to use. But importantly, its WaterNSW who manage the implementation and integration of the new rules on the ground, they collect information from your Duly Qualified Persons and they administer the licensing database if you determine you need to make amendments.  In most cases it is WaterNSW you will need to speak with about metering as they are the customer liaison group, plus they have a customer hotline 1300 662 077. 

It is this website that features heavily in our video series on metering.

News |

The NSW Water Minister today announced the NSW Government will exempt up to 500 small water users who take water under a domestic and stock water access licence from non-urban metering rules, fixing an inconsistency in the NSW Government’s metering policy .  The announcement details are accessed below. 

Zara Lowien from the GVIA said while welcomed for some water users, the decision to not extend this exemption to groundwater sources such as the Lower Gwydir and the NSW Great Artesian Basin, will mean the majority of the region's stock and domestic groundwater works are still required to be metered in the Gwydir Valley.  This means many lifestyle blocks on the outskirts of towns like Moree and dryland farms still need a water meter by 1 December 2021.  This is over-reach by the metering reforms which should focus on water being actively used for irrigation and as such, the exemptions should be extended to these other water sources.

We are also calling on the NSW Government to prioritise solutions for land owners who hold a water access licenses but are not active irrigators before the deadline of 1 December 2021.  Again a large number of lifestyle blocks have small licenses that are inactive for irrigation but that may be used for stock and domestic or basic landholder rights, who without intervention are required to have a meter by December 2021.  

To assess if you need a meter, see our video series via https://vimeo.com/showcase/8853111

News |

The NSW Select Committee Inquiry into floodplain harvesting has had an explosive start to public hearings this week with hearings due to wrap up on Friday, 24th September with the NSW Water Minister.

Zara Lowien, from the Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association said the next few days will be interesting as mainly stakeholders who are vocal against the licencing proposal and irrigation in the northern valleys, present their cases.

 “Since the drought we’ve seen floodplain harvesting which is water taken during a flood when rivers and streams are full and spilling onto the floodplains, being criticised as the cause of all the problems with water management and the environment during the drought”.

 “Everyone agrees current conditions are good – our rivers are flowing freely, with many storages including the Menindee Lakes full, which is in stark contrast to the recent drought, when our rivers stopped flowing.”

“With many these mistruths blown out of the water and some stakeholders refusing to accept the real facts.  Those destined to undermine this process have fallen back on highly nuanced and often contradictory arguments on what is the long-term legal limit and disputes on modelling results”.

“The analysis being used to support the claim that NSW is trying to update Cap without due process during this inquiry is not correct, nor is the claim that Cap is being increased.”

“The analysis used to make the claims, isn’t even comparing apples with apples” said Mrs Lowien.

News |

Food and fibre production in the northern Murray Darling Basin is worth more than $6 billion a year, according to a report by leading Australian economic analysis company Macroplan. The report, commissioned by the Northern Valley Irrigators groups of which the Gwydir Valley contributed, sets out the value and flow-on benefits of investment in irrigated agriculture in the northern Basin.

“The report shows the economic and social value of irrigated and other agriculture in in the northern Basin,” explained Michael Drum, Executive Officer of Macquarie River Food and Fibre.

“Regional communities dominated by agriculture are circular economies, each sector relies on the other to be successful. Much of the irrigated product both primary and secondary uses, goes to feeding a highly valuable livestock industry as well the food we eat and the clothes we wear”.

News |

Here is our third video in a NSW Metering Rules series - this is for active users, who want to work out if they need a meter and what type of meter, but also who they contact.
This video goes through some examples, for groundwater users and surface water users using the NSW Government Metering Guidance Tool.
It also then shows you how to find an approved expert to help provide you more specific advice, on what meter you may need and to install a new one or check the one you have via the Irrigation Australia database of Certified Meter Installers.
This video is available https://vimeo.com/610165753

News |

Here is our second video in our NSW Metering Rules series - this is designed to help you make the administrative updates to your work approval.
1. For users who are not active users for irrigation or do not have infrastructure, we cover the steps to mark your site inactive.
2. For users who want to just pump stock and domestic or basic landholder rights water, we explain how you can remove your WAL and change the purpose of your work or just keep the works as they are but check if you need to install a meter.
3. For users who are active and there are differences between your on-farm infrastructure and the work approval, how to amend these.
You must not delay with undertaking these steps, there are price increases from 1 October 2021 for these applications. 
This video is available via vimeo https://vimeo.com/609659644

News |

Within the IPART pricing review details revealed the metering reform policy established by the NSW Government in 2019, is not meeting its promised objectives.

“We’ve been watching the train-wreck that is the implementation and administration of the NSW metering policy and working on solutions, to iron out barriers to compliance[1]” said Mrs Lowien.

“Detail in the attachments of the IPART review has highlighted the policy is also failing to meet expected efficiency or cost savings too” she said.

“IPART has had to blend metering administration charges because it was going to be more expensive for customers to have telemetry ".

“The Government telemetry system is a complete farce, it’s not integrated properly within Government systems, water users cannot connect or utilise the data easily and now, IPART have also exposed there’s no financial savings or benefits either” she said.

 [1] Document in the comprehensive barriers to compliance document by NSWIC https://www.nswic.org.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/2021-09-01-NSWIC-Report-on-Barriers-to-Metering-Compliance-FINAL-.pdf

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The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) NSW handed down their new pricing structure for water charges in NSW to start from 1 October 2021 with no good news for farmers, struggling to recovery from the drought and the reform costs for metering already.

“The details within the determination confirms that Gwydir water users will see significant pricing change increases across the valley for the next four years.”

“The only water user to see a reduction in overall charges are inland groundwater users, largely due to cost shifting between agencies.”

“High security and unregulated users are the hardest hit with 46% and 66% increase in some charges respectively.  General security and supplementary users are not free from increases, usage charges for them increase 34%[1]” she said.

“There are also significant increases in administration charges through WaterNSW which the GVIA warn anyone with a water approval to be aware of the increase” said Mrs Lowien.

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The recent resource assessment has increased general security allocation to 69.3% for the Gwydir Valley.  Copeton Dam is at 82% capacity and rising. 
A stark contrast to this time last year, when Copeton Dam was at 16% capacity. 
Total water available for general security irrgators in Copeton is 496,000ML with  213,000ML for held environmental water accounts, including the ECA.  This water is in the bank, so to speak and can be carried over if it is not needed this year.   All high security and other essential supplies are 100% and fully secured for two years.

News |

In a scathing investigative report released today [HERE], NSW Irrigators’ Council found the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment-Water (DPIE-Water) and WaterNSW had failed to execute their administrative and technical responsibilities effectively.
 
“The industry supports this reform, which requires water users to upgrade their meters to a new, world-leading standard,” NSWIC CEO Claire Miller said.
 
“But irrigators are fed up with being blamed for non-compliance by deadlines while DPIE-Water and WaterNSW get away with glossing over the scale and impact of their poor planning.

GVIA helped inform the report and has been advocating to various Department's now for years, to address these barriers.

Executive Officer Zara Lowien said "We've been collating and communicating these issues directly to government for years, trying to work constructively, encourage action and implement the reform".

"But now,  water users are receiving NRAR advisory letters becuase the government has failed to provide them an approved device to install".

"Its not good enough to tell us the market will respond or don't worry,  just "evidence" your effort."

"Water users are sick and tired of providing "evidence" on multiple occasions, to multiple NRAR employees that don't even seem to speak to each other or keep this "evidence".  

"Water users just actually want to be compliant but the government agencies are letting them down".

"Enough is enough, its time they step up if they want this reform to work" she said.

Making Every Drop Count

Securing a future for the Gwydir Valley through Irrigated Agriculture.