The total number of economic assets in the water-dependent asset register for the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Sydney Basin bioregion is 61, of which 29 are surface water assets and 32 groundwater assets. All of these are, by their very nature, water dependent.
The economic assets represent groupings of economic elements. Economic elements include water access licences, basic rights to take water (both referred to as water access entitlements), water source areas and water supply infrastructure, which are represented spatially by:
- location of surface water offtake points and groundwater bores (represented as point features)
- water source areas identified within water sharing plans (WSPs) which intersect the PAE (represented as polygon features)
- water supply and monitoring infrastructure (represented as point features).
All economic elements, assets and total share component data were sourced from DPI Water (formerly the NSW Office of Water) including:
Every water access right (licensed entitlement) and basic water right (statutory entitlement) is an element. DPI Water classifies water access entitlements by 'purpose', which records the intended use of that water. Bores that are classified as exploratory or monitoring bores and which generally do not have water access rights associated with them are not included in the asset register. In all, 1995 monitoring groundwater bores were excluded from the water-dependent asset register (Bioregional Assessment Programme, Dataset 5). A number of bores have high-security licences, reflecting their importance for meeting basic community needs; four bores are classified as being for recreation and irrigation. Most other entitlements have a general security classification, which means they are at greater risk of allocation cuts when resource availability is low, such as in times of drought.
In the Sydney Basin PAE, there are 3999 economic elements, of which 627 pertain to surface water resources and 3372 to groundwater resources. Most of these are water access entitlements; eleven are groundwater source areas and seven are surface water source areas, which are contained within or intersect the PAE; ten are water supply dams. Table 20 summarises the breakdown of assets in the water-dependent asset register. Elements have been grouped by type (water access right or basic water right) and spatial location (water source area) to create assets. Not all water sources have both water access and basic water rights extraction points within the PAE.
The PAE for the Sydney Basin bioregion intersects three WSP areas related to surface water resources: (i) the Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources; (ii) the Kangaroo River Water Source; and (iii) the Macquarie Bogan Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources. WSPs specify the water sources to which they pertain and can include rivers, aquifers and lakes. Not all the water source areas within these WSP areas intersect the Sydney Basin PAE. Using basic geographic information system (GIS) analysis tools, seven water source areas were found to intersect the PAE and have been included in the asset list for the Sydney Basin bioregion (Bioregional Assessment Programme, Dataset 5). The Greater Metropolitan Region Unregulated River Water Sources plan area is the largest planning area and contains six water source areas, four of which intersect the PAE. The extents of the seven surface water sources in the water-dependent asset register are shown in Figure 21. These seven water source areas were used to group economic elements within the PAE into assets.
Table 20 Summary of the economic assets within the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Sydney Basin bioregion
Data: Bioregional Assessment Programme (Dataset 1); NSW Office of Water (Dataset 2, Dataset 3, Dataset 4). The asset database (Bioregional Assessment Programme, Dataset 5) is a collation of all these source datasets.
Most of the groundwater in the Sydney Basin bioregion is managed under NSW’s Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region Groundwater Sources 2011. Other groundwater WSPs that cover parts of the bioregion are NSW’s Water Sharing Plan for the Murray Darling Basin Porous Rock Groundwater Sources 2011 and Water Sharing Plan for the Murray Darling Basin Fractured Rock Groundwater Sources 2011. WSPs for the Clyde River Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources and South Coast Groundwater Sources have been drafted and put out for public exhibition. Their commencement is anticipated sometime after mid-2016 (NSW Department of Primary Industries, 2016). These plans will manage groundwater extracted from alluvial and coastal groundwater sources, parts of which fall within the Sydney Basin bioregion. These WSP areas do not intersect the PAE for the Sydney Basin bioregion.
The groundwater sources to which each WSP applies are specified in each plan. Eleven groundwater source areas were found to intersect the PAE for the Sydney Basin bioregion and are included in the asset list. Figure 22 shows the eleven groundwater sources in the water-dependent asset register (Bioregional Assessment Programme, Dataset 5). Groundwater water access rights have been grouped into assets on the basis of groundwater source areas and use.
Table 21 shows the share components for the surface water and groundwater resources. Share components are a specified share or volume of water that can be extracted within a specified water management area within a water year. Total share components include basic landholder rights described in WSPs (DPI Water, 2015). For groundwater and surface water, total share components of basic water rights represent the total extraction limits defined under basic landholder rights described in the WSP. Not all the groundwater management areas and water source areas within these WSP areas are contained within the Sydney Basin PAE.
In the Sydney Basin PAE the surface water asset has been defined in terms of licensed water entitlements on issue, plus basic water rights, for surface water sources that significantly intersect (i.e. more than 1% of total water source area defined in the water sharing plan) the PAE. Thus the surface water asset pool is just over 730,000 ML/year, which includes 658,000 ML/year held by WaterNSW (formerly the Sydney Catchment Authority) to take water from upper Nepean and upstream Warragamba rivers, Hawkesbury and lower Nepean rivers and Southern Sydney rivers water sources for Sydney’s water supply. These water source areas extend outside the PAE and the entitlements relate to the entire water source area, not just the area within the PAE. WaterNSW also holds an entitlement to 329,000 ML/year of water in the Shoalhaven River water source, which is not included in the 658,000 ML/year because this water source does not intersect the PAE significantly. Figure 21 shows the location of offtake points within the PAE for licence holders other than WaterNSW.
The Sydney Basin bioregion relies almost entirely on surface water sources to meet demand and development of groundwater resources has been minimal. Rights to use groundwater under a water access right or a basic water right have been estimated at 121,876 ML/year for the 11 water sources that intersect the PAE, although actual extractions are likely to be less than this. Figure 22 shows the location of bores within the PAE from where water is licensed to be extracted under a water access right or a basic water right. In defining the groundwater assets, these bores have been grouped by water source area and whether they relate to a water access right or basic water right. Thus all bores that are associated with a single groundwater source and related to a basic water right represent a single asset.
Table 21 Total share components for surface water and groundwater access entitlements within the preliminary assessment extent (PAE) of the Sydney Basin bioregion
Data: NSW Office of Water (Dataset 3, Dataset 4)
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- 1.3.1 Methods
- 1.3.2 Ecological assets
- 1.3.3 Economic assets
- 1.3.4 Sociocultural assets
- Contributors to the Technical Programme
- About this technical product