The Water Reform Bill will consolidate six water resource management Acts into one. Some current provisions will be transitioned to the new legislation without change, some will be amended and new provisions will be created. The Bill will also update the Water Services Act and associated regulations.
The new legislation will play a key role in allowing the department to manage water more effectively for the economic, social and environmental values of Western Australia.
The legislation will seek to:
- ensure community wellbeing and quality of life for the people of Western Australia
- support the productive use of water to promote ecologically sustainable development
- protect water resources and their dependent ecosystems
- ensure water resources are shared fairly, used efficiently and managed sustainably and flexibly to meet the needs of present and future generations in a variable and changing climate
- ensure Aboriginal land, heritage, economic and cultural development concerns are effectively represented in water policy development and water allocation processes
- deliver benefits to Aboriginal people in relation to their spiritual, social, customary and economic use of water.
The key aims of the new legislation are to:
- support jobs and economic growth through greater certainty in water access approvals and a simplified trading regime for water entitlements
- provide a faster, streamlined regime for licence renewals and trades which reduces ‘red tape’ and costs to water users, and simplifies administrative processes
- support climate action by providing the essential tools to manage water resources affected by climate change (for instance, by managing different local areas in ways appropriate for each area)
- enable the management of new and innovative approaches to water use, such as managed aquifer recharge and geothermal energy
- support attainment of Closing the Gap targets by supporting the Aboriginal community’s access to water resources
- support Waterwise Perth by better enabling the use of alternative water resources and sustainable water services
- include climate change objectives in water services legislation
- provide greater protection for water resources and water services customers.