The NSW Government has today introduced historic legislation to fast track critical water infrastructure to ensure drought-stricken communities will not run out of drinking water.

The temporary legislation will streamline approvals for water infrastructure projects where there is a critical town water supply need.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said this historic legislation is a big step towards drought proofing this state.

“This legislation is a game changer for our drought-affected communities. Not only does it make sure towns will not run out of water while waiting for approvals, it also ensures three large scale dams are fast tracked to increase water storage in regional NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Earlier this week we announced joint funding with the Federal Liberals and Nationals for Dungowan Dam, Wyangala Dam and the Border Rivers project on the Mole River.

“This legislation will mean these projects and others will be built faster. 

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures.

“NSW is struggling through record low rainfall with 98 per cent of the State in drought.

“Our priority is to combat ‘day zero’ and this legislation, introduced by the NSW Liberals and Nationals in Government, will do exactly that.”

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said this new temporary legislation will facilitate declared emergency drought works to ensure the continued supply of drinking water to the people of NSW. 

“This Government has invested more than $1.8 billion over five years to support regional communities through the drought, including more than $130 million for emergency water infrastructure projects to protect over 180,000 residents in regional towns,” Ms Pavey said.  

“This temporary legislation is essential in ensuring that planning and construction can be completed before towns run out of water,” she said.

This new legislation will be in effect for two years and can be extended by up to 12 months by the Minister for Water, where towns continue to experience severe drought.