Water for the environment is managed consistent with a range of NSW and Commonwealth legislative and policy initiatives, including:
Within this legislative and policy framework government has successfully completed a range of programs to protect the environmental values of wetlands and rivers, including:
- NSW RiverBank
- Pipeline NSW
- The Rivers Environmental Restoration Program (RERP)
- NSW Wetland Recovery Program
- The Living Murray initiative
- Hawkesbury–Nepean River Recovery Program
- The Environmental Works and Measures Feasibility Program
These programs have included actions such as:
- water purchasing
- infrastructure investment to deliver water for the environment
- landholder partnerships
Regulation of water for the environment
Water for the environment can be categorised as:
- ‘Planned’ environmental water allocated within statutory water sharing plans
- ‘Held’ environmental water allocated to water licenses held for environmental use.
Within this regulatory framework the use of water for the environment is managed according to annual and long-term water plans within each catchment and a number of other government plans and policies.
Planned water for the environment
Planned water for the environment is allocated through water sharing plans under the NSW Water Management Act 2000. Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water between the environment and different types of water users. Within water sharing plans there are a number of rules and triggers for the use of planned water for the environment. Water is allocated periodically according to inflows and dam levels.
Held water for the environment
Held water for the environment has been recovered through infrastructure works and the purchase of water licences. Both the NSW and Commonwealth governments (through the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder) have purchased water licences for environmental purposes. Water is allocated periodically according to inflows and dam levels. The regulations for the use of licensed water are contained in water sharing plans and license conditions and associated ‘adaptive’ environmental water-use plans. The department has prepared the following 'adaptive' environmental water-use plans: