The NSW Government’s review into the barriers to water users’ compliance with new water metering rules, announced this week, is a welcome opportunity to get this important reform right.
“The irrigation industry has zero tolerance for non-compliance, and expects everyone to follow the rules,” said NSW Irrigators’ Council (NSWIC) CEO, Claire Miller.
“But the problem here is that the rules are impossible to follow due to compliance barriers outside of farmers’ control and anomalies that leave smaller water users facing exorbitant costs,” said NSWIC CEO, Claire Miller.
“It is pleasing the Water Minister Rose Jackson has acknowledged the valid reasons blocking water users from becoming fully compliant, such as supply chain disruptions, too few Duly Qualified Persons to install and accredit meters, the cost of equipment, and flooding.
“Let’s be clear, compliance is not a lack of will – but we need a way through the impenetrable barriers in farmers’ way due to a poorly thought-through reform.
“The industry has been raising these concerns since 2021, and welcomes the NSW Government’s commitment to addressing these barriers.”
Farmers’ water use across NSW was already measured and metered before the non-urban metering reform was introduced in late 2018. The reform is about upgrading meters to comply with the AS4747 standard, the highest in Australia and internationally.
The new meters must be installed by a duly qualified person, with tamper-proofing to ensure security. Telemetry to enable remote meter reading is also required for many water users, but black spots across NSW mean the equipment does not work when installed.
The reform is being rolled out progressively. The States largest water users now already required to be compliant, as well as all water users in the NSW Murray-Darling Basin. The coastal valleys’ deadline is December 2024.