As water supply infrastructure is expensive to install, maintain and operate it is often shared by neighbouring landholders to avoid duplication and share the costs of maintenance and operation. This requires statutory provisions to cover how the necessary revenue can be raised, who makes decisions in relation to the infrastructure, rights to go onto land to maintain and operate the infrastructure, and also provision for sharing of the available resource.
NSW legislation relating to private water infrastructure has evolved over the decades so that there are now a number of different frameworks for private infrastructure sharing:
- Irrigation Corporations: There are five Irrigation Corporations with water entitlements ranging up to 1,420,000 ML extracting water from the Lachlan, Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers and from the Lower Murrumbidgee groundwater source.
- Private Irrigation Boards: There are seven Private Irrigation Boards and their Districts located on the Murray, Macquarie, Hunter and Murrumbidgee rivers with water entitlements ranging up to 86,000 ML.
- Private Water Trusts (Trusts): There are nine Private Water Trusts using water primarily for irrigation purposes on the Murray River with water entitlements ranging up to 7,000 ML. There are also numerous 'bore' trusts extracting water from the Great Artesian Basin primarily for stock and domestic purposes.
- Licence co-holders: These are arrangements where more than one person is named on the water licence or works approval. These can be highly complex arrangements with in excess of 60 members and significant water entitlements.
- Private Drainage Boards: Bodies with the function of managing drainage infrastructure. As they are not supplying water they generally do not require water licences.
Reform of joint private works - Water Management Amendment Act 2010
In December 2010 new provisions commenced, enabling Private Irrigation Boards and Private Water Trusts to comply with the obligations imposed upon them by the Commonwealth Market Rules under the Water Act 2007 (Cth).
Amendments to these rules (sections 190A and 190B in relation to Private Irrigation Boards, and sections 237A and 237B in relation to Private Water Trusts) enable a member of a Private Irrigation Board or Trust to request in writing their individual water access entitlement be determined. This is a necessary first step to transforming entitlement to water from an irrigation right against an operator into an independently held water access entitlement.
For more information read the fact sheet Transforming water entitlements by Private Irrigation Districts or Private Water Trusts (PDF 623 KB).
More information on reforms to streamline and simplify the governance arrangements of Private Irrigation Boards and their districts, Private Drainage Boards and Private water Trusts can be found at Legal reform