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Rebates, drought relief in NSW budget

In a bid to support sustainable, secure and healthy water resources, the NSW Government has committed $700 million in the 2020-21 budget to a raft of initiatives, including $290 million over four years for vital water infrastructure projects in the regions.

The regional focus includes water rebates, drought relief initiatives, and further funding for the state’s regional water stimulus program and the Safe and Secure Water Program.

Minister for Water, Housing and Property Melinda Pavey said the government is prioritising drought preparedness, as well as equitable management of water resources for industry, business, communities and the environment.

“While much of NSW is now emerging from the worst drought on record, we can be sure there will be droughts again in the future. What is important is that we are better prepared for those future droughts,” Pavey said.

“We’re following through on commitments we made during the drought to deliver critical water supply infrastructure.

“More than $61 million, over two years, in regional water stimulus projects will benefit regional communities recovering from the COVID recession and build drought resilience across NSW for years to come.”

More than $188 million in funding has been committed to water rebates for low-income households to assist with cost of living.

Furthermore, $122 million has been committed to continue drought relief efforts, including funding for critical drought infrastructure, accelerated groundwater assessments and rebates for licence holders, emergency water carting and infrastructure to ensure critical regional town water supply, and business and household water saving and resourcing.

The regional water stimulus program will receive almost $45 million to deliver urgent water infrastructure to improve water supply management, water security and supplementary supply via stormwater harvesting.

The Safe and Secure Water Program will receive a further $35 million for co-funding eligible water and sewerage projects for critical local water infrastructure to maintain town water supply.

And more than $30 million has been committed to to deliver investigation of alleged breaches to water regulation in NSW and to manage dam safety.

Pavey said further funding will also be put towards supporting the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) to continue its monitoring work.

“One of the key planks for the government’s 2017 Water Reform Action Plan was the establishment of an independent regulator for water resources in NSW. Resulting in the establishment of NRAR in April 2018,” she said.

“NRAR has made significant progress with more than $30 million this financial year contributing towards the continued monitoring and enforcement of water rules, and the investigation of suspicious activities.

“For water, this is a budget that supports all water users, communities and the environment.”