A NSW Government website

Progress and outcomes

Metering compliance reports

Map of NSW highlighting the three different metering region compliance deadlines for the Northern Inland, Southern Inland and Coastal.

The new metering rules

NRAR is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the new non-urban water metering rules.

The new metering rules are being rolled out in stages by the NSW Government to better measure water take in the state, make water use fairer, and to build community confidence in water management.

Visit our metering page to find out more about the new metering rules and if they apply to you.

What we’ve done so far

The 2020 group – large water users

These are the pumps across NSW that are 500mm and above and needed to be fitted with accurate meters, intelligence devices, independently certified and able to transmit water take to a central database by 1 December 2020.

We have audited these water users and continue to conduct checks to ensure they comply with the metering rules.

Throughout 2021, we inspected 547 active pumps in the 2020 group. The large water users who had already complied with the rules received a letter of thanks.

Those who hadn’t met the requirements were issued with advisory letters, legal directions to comply or fines.

With their deadline to comply now over two years past, we continue to monitor compliance of the 2020 group and will escalate our enforcement response to those found to be in breach of the metering rules.

The 2021 group – Northern Inland

There are approximately 9,000 total pumps in the 2021 group, about 5,000 of which appear to be actively taking or capable of taking water. Works in this group needed to be fitted with accurate meters, intelligence devices, tamper evidence seals and be independently certified by 1 December 2021.

This includes all works, including pumps 100mm and above and bores 200mm and above in the Macquarie, Gwydir, Namoi, Border Rivers and Barwon-Darling regions. As well as some at-risk groundwater sources and smaller pumps with existing metering conditions.

Since the lead up to the 1 December 2021 deadline, we have been working with WaterNSW and the Department of Planning and Environment to raise awareness with water users about their metering obligations and encourage voluntary compliance. This includes direct letters, phone calls, information sessions, social media advertisements and exhibitions at regional field day events.

NRAR has also met with Duly Qualified Persons (DQPs) across the northern inland directly to understand and assist in resolving barriers to compliance where possible, and we work with WaterNSW staff to address system and data challenges.

We are focusing on high-volume works, of which there are approximately 3,200.  We estimate that 20 per cent of works account for approximately 80 per cent of total water take.

We continue to monitor the compliance status of high-volume water users across the northern inland using both desktop assessments and site inspections.

Through our monitoring of high volume-water users, we understand that most are aware of their metering obligations and many are attempting to comply with the rules.

Compliance rates

We monitor and assess compliance with the metering rules throughout NSW. This enables us to effectively target our education and enforcement efforts to improve metering compliance and to report on the progress of the rollout of the metering regulations.

We report on metering compliance rates at key milestones. Now that the Southern Inland metering deadline has passed, as of 1 June 2023, we have released new reports on compliance rates for both the Northern and Southern Inland groups.

View the reports in the dashboards below.

Changes to our reporting framework

As NRAR matures as a regulator, we continue to improve our data collection and reporting methods and have changed the way we report on metering compliance to provide a more accurate and relevant picture of the state of compliance in NSW.

The challenges of reporting compliance at scale 

There were approximately 1080 works in the 2020 group of large water users, the first stage of the metering rollout. The small size of this group meant NRAR officers could conduct site inspections, to check the compliance status of works and make sure that what is on the ground matched the information reported. NRAR officers inspected more than half of the works in the 2020 group and found that many were smaller than the 500mm threshold or unable to take water. By excluding the works found during site inspections to be undersized or unable to take water we are able to report that over 90 per cent of active works 500mm and above have accurate meters in place.

With almost 10 times the number of works in each of the following 2021 – Northern Inland and 2023 – Southern Inland groups it is not possible to use site inspections to identify and verify all undersized works or works unable to take water. Our on-ground efforts have primarily focused on large water users in these groups, and a different approach is needed to report on their compliance with the metering rules.

New method for reporting on metering compliance 

Using data from the water licensing system and DQP portal we are able to report on two compliance rates for each group:

  • The compliance rate based on all works in that region that are covered by the metering policy (includes works that may be undersized or unable to take water)
  • The compliance rates based only on all ‘active works’ in that region.

The metering policy requires all works captured by the rules to be fitted with accurate meters, Local Intelligence Devices (LID), tamper evidence seals and be independently certified by their compliance date. The compliance rates above use LID installation as ‘the measure of compliance.’

The first rate is consistent with the metering policy as it includes all works that the policy applies to. However, as with the 2020 group many works included in this number are likely undersized or unable to take water. As a result, while this is the most consistent way to report on overall metering compliance for the 2021 groups and onwards that aligns with the metering policy, this compliance rate does not reflect the number of active works compliant with the metering rules.

The second compliance rate excludes works likely to be inactive or incapable of taking water. This provides the compliance rate for ‘active works’ only. Works likely to be inactive or incapable of taking water have been identified using licensing and spatial data assessments.

Current areas of focus

The 2023 group – Southern Inland

NRAR is focused on ensuring compliance for the highest volume water users in the 2023 group now the compliance deadline has been reached.

We continue to work closely with WaterNSW and the Department of Planning and Environment to raise awareness about the metering rules and educate water users about their obligations in the lead up to the remaining compliance deadlines.

Monitoring and enforcing compliance amongst groups whose deadline has passed

Water users in the 2020 and 2021 groups have both had over a year since their compliance dates passed to take action and we have begun taking enforcement action for breaches of the metering rules.

  • For the 2020 group, we are investigating works that are still non-compliant and taking appropriate enforcement action where necessary. Those who do not comply will face escalated enforcement action, with prosecution and stop work orders a possibility if non-compliance persists in this group of high-risk water users.
  • For the 2021 group, we are continuing to conduct compliance checks across the Northern Inland. We are a firm but fair regulator. If a licence holder has faced challenges in complying by their deadline and can show evidence of their efforts to comply, we will take that into consideration.”.

Our compliance approach

We are a firm but fair regulator. We understand there can be challenges on the pathway to compliance, which may hamper the efforts of well-intentioned water users to install the required metering equipment before their deadline.

However, for some water users, the metering obligations have been in place for a long time, and despite these challenges, over 90 per cent of active works 500mm and above now have accurate meters.

In assessing whether to take an escalated enforcement approach, NRAR will take into account any circumstances affecting the individual’s ability to comply with the metering rules on a case-by-case basis.

Water users should hold onto their records and be prepared to show NRAR the steps they’ve taken to comply, including taking regular action to ensure timely progression to compliance.

Failure to comply with the metering rules may be considered a criminal offence. For those who cannot show evidence of their efforts to comply our response will become progressively severe, with stop work orders, licence suspensions or prosecutions being considered.

Download our metering fact sheet

Learn more about our compliance approach to metering

Metering regulations - NRAR compliance approach (PDF 188.5KB)

View our previous report on the metering compliance state of play for the 2020 group.