While the re-introduction of floodplain harvesting (FPH) regulations by NSW Minister for Water Kevin Anderson has people in some circles upset, one group is keen for Water Sharing Plans to move ahead.
Members of Namoi Water are excited the regulations have been put forward again and hope that despite having already been disallowed by parliament, three times, they go through this time.
Namoi Water executive officer Mick Coffey said members recognise a need for the regulations, but they just "want to get on with it".
"FPH needs regulation, licensing and measuring and Namoi Water is in full support," he said.
"It will hit farmers' hip pockets, and in turn local economies, but the acknowledgement is there and it's time to get on with it.
"Having FPH regulated and licensed will ensure the Namoi meets its obligations to the Murray Darling Basin Plan by complying with Sustainable Diversion Limits."
Water Sharing Plans for the Namoi Valley catchment basin are scheduled to be finalised later this year, but irrigators may not know their water allocations until 2023.
"An enormous amount of time and money has been poured into bringing the FPH regulations to this stage, and the finalisations of Water Sharing Plans are part of that process," Mr Coffey said.
"Having things finalised allows certainty with regard to planning, investment, expansion, employment, succession planning, new infrastructure - the list goes on.
"People forget these regulations change things for all members of communities, not just water users.
"At this point in time, the new source model which is to be used for the Namoi FPH entitlements remains incomplete.
"Expectations at this point in time is the Namoi will see final licenses in March 2023."
Mr Coffey said members were waiting to see what happened before investing in measurement infrastructure for floodplain harvesting.
"There are storages equipped with point-of-intake and primary metering equipment, along with surveyed gauge boards, but water users have been waiting until the minister approves and publishes the final measurement infrastructure rules to lodge orders for new FPH equipment with duly qualified persons," he said.
"Measurement compliance is a key focus for users."
NRAR director of water regulation, Graeme White, is hopeful the regulations will help paint a clearer picture for water users.
"Including floodplain harvesting licences in the existing water licensing framework, provides greater clarity for water users," he said.
"Clear rules are easier to follow, so as the NSW independent water regulator, we always welcome clarity.
"These licences will afford water users the right to capture and store water but, they will come with obligations.
"Water users with licences to FPH will be required to measure and report their water take in accordance with specific conditions.
"Typically, this will require the installation and certification of metering equipment in line with the FPH measurement framework.
"This measurement framework, coupled with our 'eyes in the sky' program will help us keep a close eye on unlawful water take.
"We can use satellites and smart data to determine how much water is taken into and out of on-farm storages.
"Water users who are capturing without a licence or not following the conditions may be subject to enforcement action."
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