Changes to the law in NSW late last year implemented a no meter no pump policy under the Water Reform Action Plan (WRAP). Greater penalties now exist for water entitlement holders who do not comply with metering obligations.
Under the plan, it will be an offence for water entitlement holders to:
- fail to comply with the conditions of a water licence or approval which requires the installation of a meter;
- otherwise fail to install metering equipment when required;
- take water from a metered water supply work if the meter is not working properly;
- interfere with, damage, destroy or disconnect any metering equipment: or
- fail to keep required metering records.
Additionally, the Natural Recourses Access Regulator (NRAR) has been established in NSW to, amongst other things, enforce meter compliance.
On the positive side, funding has been continued for water use efficiency projects.
Whilst the NSW Sustaining the Basin and the Qld Healthy Headwaters projects have wound up, the Commonwealth government has commenced the Murray-Darling Water Infrastructure Program, which will provide $1.5 billion funding for water saving programs.
Similar to the state run programs, the funding is to be used for water efficiency infrastructure upgrades in return for the transfer of an agreed volume of the water saved to the Commonwealth.
The types of eligible projects include:
- improving irrigation layout and design by laser/GPS levelling to reduce evaporation;
- permanent plantings that improve water efficiencies such as water efficient rootstock including nuts, avocados and fruit trees;
- computing/automation equipment to help manage farm watering operations; permanently decommissioning sections of water delivery systems; and
- improving/reconfiguring/reconstructing water storage systems including channels or replacing channels with piping.
Each project must have a delivery partner or project partner.
Fox and Thomas can continue to assist clients with these projects by reviewing contracts and assisting in the subdivision and transfer of water entitlements to the Commonwealth.
Information on the tender process for funding can be found at:
Murray — Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program