Under the Water Management Act 2000, the NSW Government has developed draft water sharing plans for surface and groundwater sources for greater Sydney.
These plans will provide the legal framework for the water sharing aspects of the Metropolitan Water Plan, including legal protection for water allocated to the environment. Following a period of public exhibition, the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated Water Sources and the Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Groundwater Sources are expected to come into force in late 2010.
These measures support the community’s desire to make sure enough water is available to meet both environmental and human needs, with one not more important than the other. They also reflect community concern that water planners should consider all relevant sectors and regions.
The Metropolitan Water Plan identifies the different measures which will be used to manage water demand and guarantee a level of supply for all users. In a sense the Metropolitan Water Plan tells us what size water bucket we need and what measures (e.g. recycling and water efficiency) will be used to fill it. The Water Sharing Plans in contrast set out the specific rules for how water drawn directly from rivers and groundwater is shared between different users including the environment. There is strong alignment between the plans and both are needed to make sure there is enough water for people and to help improve the health of our rivers.
To find out more visit the Office of Water website or view Chapter 7 of the 2010 Metropolitan Water Plan (PDF).