Measuring water usage not only ensures fairness for all water users it also enables a better understanding of your water needs and can support water planning.
To better manage this, the NSW Government introduced the NSW non-urban water metering framework in December 2018 - to be rolled out over five years.
3 Steps to get meter ready
1 Check your licence and approval details on the NSW Water Register
See what conditions are listed, and if there are any metering conditions you need to comply with now.
If you need to update any details (including the size of your installed pump or to make your work inactive), WaterNSW can help amend your approval.
2 Use the NSW Government's online metering guidance tool
Check if the new rules apply to you, and what you need to do to comply with the rules.
3 If the rules apply to you, contact a duly qualified person (DQP)
Also known as a certified meter installer (CMI), a DQP can discuss your situation and advise you what equipment is best. Then they can order, install and validate the equipment you need to become compliant.
To find a DQP near you, please visit the Irrigation Australia website.
Roll out timeline
From 1 April 2019 water users need to comply with the requirement for new and replacement meters, faulty meters and inactive works under the NSW Government's new metering rules.
By 1 December 2020 water users across NSW with surface water pumps 500mm and above, need to have their metering equipment installed and certified by a DQP.
By 1 December 2021, all works in the northern inland regions need to have their metering equipment installed and certified by a DQP.
The following groundwater sources are included in this regional rollout date:
- NSW Great Artesian Basin Groundwater Sources
- Northern Western Unregulated and Fractured Rock Water Sources
- NSW Great Artesian Basin Shallow Groundwater Sources
- NSW Murray–Darling Basin Fractured Rock Groundwater Sources
- NSW Murray–Darling Basin Porous Rock Groundwater Sources
Read more about at-risk groundwater sources here.
By 1 December 2022, all works in the southern inland regions need to have their metering equipment installed and certified by a DQP.
Read more about at-risk groundwater sources here.
By 1 December 2023, all works in the coastal regions will need to have their metering equipment installed and certified by a DQP.
Metering guidance tool
A step-by-step guide to finding out which rules affect you
What water users need to know
A summary of non-urban water metering (PDF, 130kb) from the Department of Planning and Environment - Water (DPE-Water). You can also find a summary of the non-urban metering reform and what it means to you here.
View the list of exemptions to the metering rules below.
- Works used solely to take water under a basic landholder right (BLR)
- Inactive works
- Works that cannot physically comply with the non-urban metering rules
- Works that are not nominated against a water access licence
- Small, low-risk works used solely to take water under a stock and domestic water access licence (Note: This is a temporary exemption until 1 December 2024)
- Works required to connect to telemetry but are in a telemetry blackspot area (Note: This is a temporary exemption until 23 December 2022).
For more information regarding exemptions please visit the DPE-Water website.
Under the new metering rules you’ll need to be fitted with a pattern approved meter by your rollout date.
See this list of pattern-approved non-urban water meters (PDF) by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).
If your existing meter was installed before 1 April 2019, it may be possible to keep it. Read more from DPE-Water about how to keep your existing meter.
Telemetry is the most efficient way of reporting water usage.
A local intelligence device (LID) uses telemetry to automatically transmit usage data from your meter to DPE-Water, NRAR and WaterNSW.
If you install telemetry on your LID, your annual telemetry service charge of $226 will be automatically credited on your WaterNSW bill each year until you reach the total rebate amount of $975 - just over four years. The rebate is not available to water users with a government-owned meter.
Read more about telemetry here.
Surface water works (with the exception of pumps below 100mm that are not part of the multiple pump threshold), need to be fitted with a compatible LID under the new metering rules.
Contact a DQP to discuss your LID needs.
WaterNSW collects and stores the data we receive from compatible LIDs in a secure cloud-based, data acquisition service (DAS).
Your data will be used by NRAR, DPE-Water and WaterNSW to help with billing, compliance and other water management activities.
Read more information in the DAS user guide (PDF).
DQPs, also known as certified meter installers (CMIs) are trained to install metering equipment and ensure it’s working properly.
They can also give you advice about the best metering equipment to use and help you comply with the new metering rules.
You must use a DQP to install and validate your metering equipment.
DQPs will use our DQP portal to complete and submit the forms and certificates required to show that your metering equipment is compliant with the new rules. DQPs can access the portal here.
After each rollout date, all water users, even those who have installed a meter, may have ongoing recording and reporting requirements that are required under clauses 244, 244A and 250 of the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018.
Recording and reporting - metered works without telemetry
Recording and reporting BLR through a licensed work - all metered works
Recording and reporting cease to take conditions - all metered works
Recording and reporting -all non metered works
Please click here for further information on recording and reporting.
What does it mean for you?
- If you have installed a compliant meter, your water usage is recorded by your local intelligence device (LID). There is only a requirement to report that usage monthly if telemetry is not installed.
- If you have installed a compliant meter and wish to take basic landholder rights (BLR) water through your licensed work, recording and reporting obligations apply whether you have installed telemetry or not.
- If you have installed a compliant meter and have commence and cease to pump conditions on your work approval or licence, you will need to record that cease to pump conditions do not apply when you take water.
- If you do not need to install a meter, you will need to record your usage, including BLR if relevant, and that cease to pump conditions do not apply and report annually.
All information needs to be recorded no later than 24 hours after any day during which water is taken using the approved forms below.
You must keep a copy of all records for up to five years and have them available to show an authorised officer from the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) on request.
Until your rollout date, you must continue to comply with your current recording and reporting requirements, including keeping existing logbooks for five years.
We are continuing to review and improve the process to allow online and simpler reporting in the future – stay tuned!
All regulated river licence holders need to place a water order before pumping water.
Any water take (determined by your meter reading), will need to be linked to a water order.
As part of the non-urban metering framework, WaterNSW will continue to manage the compliance and ongoing maintenance of existing government-owned meters.
We are committed to making sure these meters are compliant under the NSW non-urban water metering framework.
If you are currently using a government-owned meter, we’ll be in touch before your rollout date. However if you have any questions regarding your government-owned meter, please contact us on 1300 662 077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you no longer want WaterNSW to provide and manage your government-owned meter, please complete this online opt-out form and we will contact you to discuss the next steps
Please note if you opt-out of the government-owned meter program you will be responsible for your metering equipment and ongoing compliance obligations, this includes engaging your own DQP.
Read more about government-owned meters here.
If you’re not using your work, you can make it inactive and be exempt from the new metering rules. Once it’s inactive, you won’t be able to use it to take any water (including basic landholder rights).
Please note - unregulated and groundwater customers will be billed on a one-part tariff once the work is made inactive.
To make a work active again, you’ll need to provide evidence that your work is compliant with the non-urban metering rules.
Read more about inactive and active works here.
It’s your responsibility to make sure the size and type of your work on the ground matches what is listed on your approval. To view your approval details, visit the NSW Water Register.
If your pump size is different to what’s listed on your approval, you’ll need to update your information to ensure you’re compliant with the new rules.
Follow these three steps if your metering equipment isn’t working properly:
1. Report the faulty meter to us within 24 hours of noticing it isn't working properly.
- You’ll need to specify how you’ll measure water while your meter is faulty
- If you don’t report a faulty meter within 24 hours, it’s a breach of the Water Management Act 2000
2. Repair or replace the meter within 21 days and have it certified by a DQP.
If you can’t repair or replace the meter within 21 days of reporting it, you can apply for an extension.
3. Submit a completion form within 28 days of repairing or replacing your equipment including:
- the log book used to record water taken while the meter was faulty
- a copy of the validation certificate completed by the DQP
- up to two photos of the new or repaired metering equipment
WaterNSW is responsible for implementing the laws and policies, as well as issuing, and amending licences and approvals for the majority of water users and billing water use/metering charges for all customers.
Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) is NSW’s independent water regulator. Its purpose is to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of the state’s water laws.
See metering policy details
WaterNSW manages access to water and ensures water is accessed equitably. Learn more about the non-urban metering framework and requirements for an approval or license holder to access water.
How is compliance regulated?
Understand NRAR's approach to enforcing the new metering rules here.