A NEW round of funding is set to help the state's water users switch over to telemetry-based water metering.
In order to fast track the use of the telemetry systems, the NSW government has committed $23.6 million to help producers make the change.
A total of $9 million will go towards rebates for users making the switch, while the other $14.6 million will be used to upgrade government-owned meters.
NSW Water, Property and Housing Minister Melinda Pavey said water users who transmit their water-take information via NSW's telemetry system would receive a rebate, applied to water bills, to help accelerate the uptake of telemetry.
"The NSW government has completed major reform in water management over the last few years, and the modernisation of water metering and monitoring has been a key part of this reform," Mrs Pavey said.
"For many water users, the last few years have seen a huge change in how they report their water usage, and we recognise there can be significant costs involved in ensuring compliance with new rules.
"We've heard these concerns and are now providing funding to help offset these costs and to provide a financial incentive for water users to install a telemetry device and transmit water use data remotely.
"Telemetry is the most efficient way of providing near real-time information on water take and will increase community confidence in monitoring and compliance, and provide farmers and irrigators with vital, up-to-date information on their water usage."
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The meters will be used to track water which is pumped out of rivers for storage and cropping use, and will be managed and installed by WaterNSW.
"We recognise there are benefits of telemetry for water users, government and the broader community, and will be funding a rebate for water users who make or have already made the switch," Mrs Pavey said.
"Additional funding is being provided to ensure government-owned meters in some regions of NSW comply with the new non-urban water metering framework.
"For water users still recovering from the drought this will be a great relief, and provide an incentive for more, earlier take-up of telemetry across NSW."
The NSW government funding will complement a further $12.5 million being invested by the federal government to boost metering and telemetry in northern NSW. Together these programs will ensure water users across the entire state will benefit.
The funding comes as the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has released a supplementary draft report on new water metering charges in regional and rural NSW.
The report highlights the maximum prices WaterNSW can charge licence holders implementing the metering reforms over the next four years.
"Improving the standard and coverage of water meters in regional and rural NSW is important for building community confidence that water is managed in a fair and equitable way," IPART acting chairwoman Deborah Cope said.
"We're keen to hear from stakeholders about the draft prices. Submissions on the supplementary draft report are due by 23 July."
The impacts of the new charges on users will vary by water source, location, meter type and whether their meter is privately or government owned.
"We have therefore made a draft decision to set a 'meter service charge - capital costs' of $0 a year for the next 4 years. There will also be lower scheme management, telemetry and non-telemetry charges if more users connect to telemetry," Ms Cope said.
"These new charges are needed to recover the efficient costs of WaterNSW's metering program. This will support the long-term sustainability of water resources in NSW, which is in the interests of all water users."
Users with privately owned meters will also be required to purchase and maintain a new or replacement meter at their own expense. These costs would be borne by users and are not included in IPART's new charges.
The new charges will apply from October 1.
IPART has decided to delay the commencement of all new charges until then in order to seek feedback on the supplementary draft report before releasing final decisions in September.
For more information on metering and telemetry programs in NSW, visit https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/metering/funding-announcement
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