Outcomes of the review
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has completed the ten-year statutory review of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme) Regulation 2002 (the Regulation). The Protection of the Environment Operations (Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme) Amendment Regulation 2016 (the Amendment Regulation) (PDF 244KB) implements the recommendations of the review.
The Amendment Regulation was published on 16 December 2016 and commenced on 16 March 2017.
The primary change contained in the Amendment Regulation is an increase to the flood flow thresholds under clause 11
- from >4,000 to >6,500 ML/day in the upper sector (megalitres per day)
- from >6,000 to >16,500 ML/day in the middle sector
- from >10,000 to >28,500 ML/day in the lower sector
These questions and answers (PDF 577KB) explain why changes have been made to the flood flow thresholds, and provides background to the issue.
The remaining amendments proposed in the Amendment Regulation are of a minor nature (i.e. mechanical, administrative and tidy-up amendments), to improve clarity and consistency, and to remove repetition and redundant clauses.
The Summary of the Amendment document (PDF 192KB) explains how all the required changes to the Regulation arising from the review were achieved in the Amendment Regulation specifically.
The EPA will continue to consider and prioritise other recommended non-regulatory operational improvements to the scheme arising from the review, in consultation with the Scheme Operations Committee.
The EPA will revisit the issue of flood flows under the Scheme in the second half of 2018, following the next credit auction and a review of the credit trading platform.
Between 2013 and 2016, the EPA undertook a 10-year statutory review of the Regulation.
The purpose of the review was to
- undertake the statutory 10-year review of the Regulation
- improve the Regulation to make it a more effective and efficient tool for managing discharges of saline water into the Hunter River Catchment under the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme (the Scheme)
Summary of the review process
- In late 2013, the EPA published a comprehensive discussion paper (PDF 542KB) for public consultation, to engage stakeholders in the review. The development of the discussion paper was informed by the Hunter Catchment Salinity Assessment (PDF 4.04MB).
- During 2014–15, the EPA considered stakeholder submissions on the discussion paper and carried out further detailed analysis on flood flows under the scheme, before finalising the review.
- In early 2016, the EPA released a report with recommendations (PDF 1.2MB) for improving the Regulation and the scheme generally. At the same time, the EPA released a draft Amendment Regulation (PDF 245KB) for consultation, which contained recommended changes to the Regulation arising from the review.
- During early to mid-2016, the EPA considered stakeholder submissions on the draft Amendment Regulation and carried out further targeted consultation on flood flows
- The Amendment Regulation (PDF 244KB) was finalised in late 2016 and will commence on 16 March 2017.
Hunter Catchment Salinity Assessment
In 2013, the EPA commissioned the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) to undertake a Hunter Catchment Salinity Assessment to inform the Regulation review. This involved a desk-top review and gap-analysis of available water quality data (primarily salinity/conductivity) and aquatic ecological health data in the Hunter River Catchment upstream of Singleton, to assist in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the Scheme.
The results of the Assessment have influenced many of the issues that are raised in the discussion paper.
An overview of the key findings of the Assessment is provided in Appendix B of the discussion paper.
The Salinity Assessment was released publically in late 2013, as a supporting document to the discussion paper.