Water sharing plans

To maintain and protect low flows for environmental and ecological purposes, the New South Wales government established water sharing plans (WSPs) for the state-unregulated rivers under the New South Wales Water Management Act 2000. These WSPs are reviewed every ten years. The Avon River, Gloucester River and Barrington River are protected by the Lower north coast unregulated and alluvial plan for 2009 to 2019 (DPI, 2009). It requires water to be available to meet all competing environmental and extractive needs, based on climate conditions and river flows, and also requires the entire Lower North Coast WSP area meeting the long-term average annual extraction limit. The rules in the plan determine when licence holders can and cannot pump on a daily basis. The plan also determines where trade of water licences can occurs within the WSP area. As one of the 20 first-stage implemented WSPs, the Karuah River WSP has been applied to the Karuah River and its tributaries since 1 July 2004, and will expire on 30 June 2014 (DIPNR, 2004). After expiring it will be merged into the Lower north coast unregulated and alluvial plan. Currently, the Karuah River WSP area is divided into five management zones. At the start of the plan, 3.36 GL/year was accessed by 64 licences, of which, about 3.0 GL/year was for irrigation, 320 ML/year for towns, 25 ML per year for stock and 100 ML/year for domestic and farming purposes (DIPNR, 2004). However, the extremely dry conditions since the WSP commenced have meant that water use has been well below the extraction limit set in the plan (DWE, 2009). Furthermore, there had been a less than 4% increase in access licences for the Karuah River in 2004 to 2008.

Last updated:
5 January 2018