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National Water Account 2015

Sydney: Water access and use

Warragamba Dam, New South Wales (iStock © Kokkai Ng)

Water rights, entitlements, allocations and restrictions

Introduction

This note provides information about the water access rights granted by the jurisdictions to the users of the region's water resources and the associated allocation announcements and abstractions.

The 2015 Account acknowledges that the legislative water resource management frameworks relating to Australian water rights vary greatly across jurisdictions, sometimes making comparisons difficult. To facilitate meaningful comparisons between the water accounting reports included in the 2015 Account, the Bureau of Meteorology has developed and applied an accounting concept to classify and report water entitlements within a water asset/water liability framework.

According to that framework, water rights for the Sydney region for the 201415 year have been classified as shown in the sections below.

 

Surface water rights

Surface water rights in the Sydney region during the 2014–15 year refer to surface water supply for:

  • statutory rights—32,530 ML
  • individual users: allocated—159,480 ML
  • urban water system—1,040,588 ML.

In the Sydney region, surface water allocations for individual users and the urban water system are equal to 100% of the water access entitlement. No allocations are associated with water access entitlements for statutory water rights.

The volume of surface water entitlements, corresponding water allocations and volumes of abstraction for the 201415 year compared to the 2013–14 year, are shown in Figure N20. The percentage shows the ratio of abstraction to the water access entitlement.

Note that water allocations and abstractions related to the urban water system appear in the Surface water note and Water resources and systems note; however, they do not appear in the water accounting statements because they are transactions that occurred within the region. These transactions did not impact the region's total water assets and water liabilities.

 

Figure N20 Surface water access entitlements, allocations and diversions in the Sydney region for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 years
Figure N20 Surface water access entitlements, allocations and diversions in the Sydney region for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 years


In the Sydney region, details of statutory rights, and surface water entitlements for allocated diversions to individual users and urban water system are available in Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources and the Water Sharing Plan for the Kangaroo River Water Source.

Figure N20 shows that allocation for statutory rights and urban water system during the 201415 year remain unchanged from the previous year; however, diversions to the urban water system (542,895 ML) marginally decreased.

Allocation for individual users was estimated as 159,480 ML, an increase of 18 ML from the 201314 year. Allocation diversion for individual users during the 2014–15 year decreased by almost 18,000 ML from the previous year (Figure N20). This was due to comparatively less water diversion from Cox River by Energy Australia and less diversion from Hawkesbury and Lower Nepean rivers by individual stock and domestic holders, and other lumped holders. Other lumped holders refers to an unregulated river access licence category issued for a wide range of purposes including irrigation, commercial, industry, and environment.

It is assumed that all allocated volume for riparian right for stock and domestic purposes and cultural purposes was abstracted during the year.

The surface water allocation for individual users is based on information available in the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Unregulated River Water Sources. For the purposes of the National Water Account, allocation volumes are assumed to be 100% of the entitlement outlined in the water sharing plan. For major utilities (power generation by Energy Australia and Eraring Energy) the value is based on the entitlements stated in each organisation's water management licence with an assumed allocation of 100% at the beginning of the 201415 year.

The water supply licences for individual users are divided into access licence categories. Figure N21 shows the annual allocation announcement for each licence category for the 201415 year.

 

Figure N21 Surface water allocation to individual users for each licence purpose for the 2014–15 and 2013–14 years
Figure N21 Surface water allocation to individual users for each licence purpose for the 2014–15 and 2013–14 years

 

The surface water allocation announcements for the urban water system (1,040,588 ML) relate to licences to divert water from storages and rivers to the Sydney region's urban water supply system as shown in Figure N6 in the 'Supporting information' note.

Allocated volume for WaterNSW is 987,000 ML under the 'major utility (urban water)' water access licence category. It comprises diversions to:

  • Goulburn Mulwaree Council
  • Sydney Water Corporation
  • Shoalhaven City Council
  • Wingecarribee Shire Council
  • retail customers.

In addition, under the 'major utility (urban water)' licence category, Sydney Water Corporation is allocated a volume of 20,075 ML to divert from the Hawkesbury and lower Nepean rivers. Allocation under 'local water ulility' is 31,280 ML, which includes Goulburn Mulwaree Council, Lithgow City Council, Shoalhaven City Council, Wingecarribee Shire Council and Palerang City Council.

 

Groundwater rights

Groundwater rights and entitlements in the Sydney region during the 2014–15 year refer to groundwater supply for:

  • domestic and stock—0 ML
  • local water utility, domestic and stock (town water supply)—1 ML
  • aquifer1—67,820 ML

1Note: An aquifer licence category is issued for a wide range of purposes including irrigation, commercial, industry, and environment by DPI Water.

Groundwater entitlements represent less than 6% of all water entitlements in the Sydney region and are predominately used for irrigation, commercial, industrial and environmental purposes. It is difficult to estimate the abstraction volume as there is currently no reliable quantification method. As a result, abstracted volumes have not been reported in the water accounting statements.

 

Water restrictions

Water restrictions that applied to the Sydney region during the 2014–15 year are shown in Table N24 based on the responsible water agency. Further details about particular water restrictions can be found via the Bureau of Meteorology’s Water Restrictions website or the relevant agency's website.

 

Table N24 Water restrictions in the Sydney region during the 2014–15 year
AuthorityWater restrictionsData source
Goulburn Mulwaree CouncilGreen level throughout the 2014–15 year. (permanent)
Lithgow City CouncilLevel 1 restrictions
Sydney Water CorporationWater Wise rules throughout the 2014–15 year. (permanent)
Wingecarribee Shire CouncilWater Wise intiatives throughout the 2014–15 year. (permanent)
Shoalhaven City Council (Shoalhaven Water)No restrictions.

 

The water restrictions listed in Table N24 for 201415 are all base level or permanent water restrictions that are common practice for promoting water conservation and efficient use of water in the community. There were no additional conditions to restrict normal water demand. 

 

Water market activity

No water trading took place in the Sydney region during the 201415 year as trading provisions were not yet in place.

 

Water use

Economic benefit

The water rights and use reported in this section are used to derive an economic benefit in the 201415 year.

This includes:

  • water allocation and use for urban, rural and domestic purposes
  • water allocation and use for industrial and commercial purposes (e.g. agriculture, irrigation, manufacturing and mining)
  • water allocation and use for power generation.

For a summary of the water volumes allocated for various economic purposes within the region, including the actual volumes abstracted, refer to Surface water rights and Groundwater rights above.

 

Social and cultural benefit

Water rights directly related to social and cultural benefits identified in the Sydney region for the 201415 year were:

  • surface water: cultural basic right
  • surface water: riparian right
  • surface water: stock and domestic licences
  • groundwater: basic right.

Cultural basic right allows abstraction of water by anyone who holds native title with respect to water, as determined under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth). In the Sydney region, the right was available to abstract water from the Kangaroo River water source. No cultural basic rights were estimated to occur in other areas of the region. The rights holders can take and use water for a range of needs without holding a water access licence. This includes accessing water for personal, domestic, and non-commercial communal purposes such as:

  • manufacturing traditional artefacts
  • hunting, fishing and gathering
  • recreation
  • cultural purposes
  • ceremonial purposes.

The riparian right makes provisions to abstract water to meet basic household requirements (non-commercial uses in and around the house and garden) and for watering of stock. This water cannot be used for irrigating crops or garden produce that will be sold or bartered, washing down machinery sheds or for intensive livestock operations.

Stock and domestic licences for surface water and groundwater basic rights allow the right holders to abstract water to meet basic requirements for household and stock purposes.

 

Environmental benefit

Information on legislative, administrative and governing arrangements of environmental water in the region is available in the Environmental water management section of the 'Contextual information'.

Water for environmental benefit in the Sydney region is provided according to three different environmental water management scenarios:

  • planned partly regulated surface water
  • planned unregulated surface water
  • held environmental water.

 

Environmental water legislation

The Water Management Act 2000 (New South Wales) makes provisions for the environmental health of the Sydney region's rivers and groundwater systems that are implemented as rules in water sharing plans and conditions of water access licences.


Environmental water provision: planned partly regulated (or 'supplemented') surface water

The dominant feature of environmental water management in this scenario is the planned environmental releases.

 

Environmental water provision

The WaterNSW manages a large part of Sydney's water supply network. It has a Water Licence and Approvals Package which defines its water access rights and obligations including releases for environmental and other purposes, monitoring and reporting requirements in accordance with the provisions of the water sharing plan. The water licences and approvals apply to all storages and weirs within Sydney's water supply system (see Table N25 below).

Schedule 1 of the WaterNSW's (formerly Sydney Catchment Authority) Water Licence and Approvals Package details environmental releases, monitoring and reporting requirements for the region.

 

Environmental water outcomes

Table N25 provides details of volumes released to meet environmental flow obligations specified in water management licences issued to the WaterNSW. In addition to these flows, a portion of the treated wastewater discharged to streams by Sydney Water Corporation is specifically for environmental benefit. During the 2014–15 year, 11,779 ML of highly treated recycled water was released from the St Marys advanced water recycling plant to contribute to the healthy flow and water quality of the Hawkesbury-Napean River.


Table N25 Environmental flows released during the the 2014–15 year within the Sydney region
Storage / WeirStreams benefiting from environmental flow releaseEnvironmental flow release (ML)
AvonAvon River down to its confluence with the Nepean River and the Nepean River below that down to Pheasants Nest Weir
12,530
Broughtons Pass WeirCataract, Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers below the weir down to the sea
4,860
CataractCataract River down to Broughtons Pass Weir
18,984
CordeauxCordeaux River down to its confluence with the Avon River, and the Avon and Nepean rivers below that down to Pheasants Nest Weir
11,183
Fitzroy FallsYarrunga Creek down to Lake Yarrunga (Tallowa Dam)
13,530
Lake Burragorang (Warragamba Dam)Warragamba, Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers below Lake Burragorang (Warragamba Dam) down to the sea
2,099
Lake Yarrunga (Tallowa Dam)Shoalhaven River below Lake Yarrunga (Tallowa Dam) down to the sea
264,160
NepeanNepean River down to Pheasants Nest Weir
21,210
Pheasants Nest WeirNepean and Hawkesbury rivers below the weir down to the sea
5,756
WingecarribeeWingecarribee River down to Lake Burragorang (Warragamba Dam)
1,095
WoronoraWoronora River down to its confluence with the Georges River, and the Georges River below that down to the sea
8,525
Total
363,9321
1Releases from some storages contributed to environmental flows from downstream storages/weirs. Releases from these downstream storages have been separately accounted for in the table.


Environmental water provision: planned unregulated surface water

In the Sydney region, water management under this provision occurs only at the unregulated river, Kangaroo River, by controlling the water access regime.

Environmental water provision

The Water Sharing Plan for the Kangaroo River Water Source states that water must be allocated for the fundamental health of the river and river-dependent ecosystems—such as wetlands and floodplains—as a first priority. This is achieved by establishing flow classes at a specified flow reference point. The flow reference point is at Hampden Bridge (Station 215220). Growth in extractions in the Kangaroo River was restricted by establishing long-term extraction limits. DPI Water manages the day-to-day operation of the entitlements allocated from the Kangaroo River water source. Figure N22 shows the Kangaroo River water sharing plan area. A proportion of each flow class is set aside for environmental needs.

 

 Figure 22 The Kangaroo River water sharing plan area
Figure N22 The Kangaroo River water sharing plan area

 

Environmental water outcomes

The information related to volume of water released from unregulated surface water was not available.

 

Environmental water provision: held environmental water

Held environmental water in the Sydney region is held as banked environmental water in storages managed by the WaterNSW.

Environmental water provisions

There are no environmental water provisions.

Environmental water outcomes

No environmental water releases were made during the 201415 year.

 

Bulk water supply agreement

WaterNSW has agreements to supply bulk water to different water utilities operating within the Sydney region as detailed in Table N26.

 

Table N26 Bulk water supply agreements between WaterNSW and other water utilities within the Sydney region
Water receiverAgreed volume/supply rateOther details
Shoalhaven City CouncilAs requested by Shoalhaven City Council subject to the limit stated in its Water Management Licence.Water is diverted from Lake Yarrunga (Tallowa Dam) and Bendeela Pondage as specified in the bulk water supply agreement between two parties.
Sydney Water CorporationAs agreed between Sydney Water Corporation and WaterNSW.Water is diverted from supplier's storages and weirs to Sydney Water Corporation's water treatment plants, excluding North Richmond.
Wingecarribee Shire CouncilSubject to the limit stated in the Wingecarribee Shire Council's Water Management Licence (40 ML/day).Water is diverted from Wingecarribee Reservoir as specified in the bulk water supply agreement between two parties.