In NSW there are 58 Water-Sharing Plans (WSPs) across the state which lay out rules for using water and help regional towns and irrigators manage their supply while protecting the environment.
The WSPs support economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes by setting limits to extraction, setting access rules, such as ‘commence to pump’ rules and separation distances. The WSPs are the vehicle by which NSW establishes water access rights, as agreed through the National Water Initiative.
In this context, it is critical that the WSPs are seen as robust instruments that establish clear policy and set a planning and regulatory framework the enables the economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes and opportunities. It is also critical that the policy intent and the legal and regulatory requirements built in to the WSPs are implemented, seen to be implemented, or where there are issues (whether through resourcing, practicality, climate, technical issues etc), that these are identified, reviewed and a transparent process set up to address them.
Alluvium was engaged to audit the NSW WSPs. This was a complex project which involved the development of the audit framework, and then the preparation of 25 WSP specific audit plans. Regional audits were undertaken though an extensive interview process to deliver the work.