The NSW Government has published a discussion paper on Coastal Harvestable Rights as the first step in its consultation with the community on a potential increase in rights.

The discussion paper explores a potential increase in small farm dams, as well as other ways to improve water access in coastal regions.

Minister for Water, Housing and Property Melinda Pavey said the discussion paper would be used to review the current coastal harvestable rights, with consultation beginning in February.

“The current harvestable right in coastal draining catchments allows landholders in these regions to harvest 10 percent of rainfall runoff from their properties as a right,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Higher rainfall on the coast means we have capacity to support more agricultural ventures, while maintaining environmental outcomes. The fact is there are few major public storages on the coast to hold water for agricultural or stock and domestic use, which puts farmers at the mercy of rain.

“Communities along the coast experienced drought and bushfires. If we allow people to hold more water back we could improve our ability to respond to bushfire, as well as increase our drought resilience.

Mrs Pavey said the discussion paper provides important information on how coastal harvestable rights work and how we can improve water access in coastal regions but does not draw a conclusion on what the best arrangement may be. 

 “This review provides an opportunity for those interested in water access along the coast to see what an increase in harvestable rights limits could mean for them.”

The Coastal Harvestable Rights Review Discussion Paper is now available online. Consultations will begin in February 2021. Details on consultation will be available on the department’s website in January.