The Department of Water protects the state's water resources and promotes the sustainable and efficient use of water via regulatory tools such as water licences and permits under the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914. The department also provides expert advice on water resource management to inform regulatory processes administered by the State’s land development, resources and environmental decision making authorities. The department’s REFOCUS program is a reform approach that defines the way the department’s regulatory activities will be delivered in response to:
- the need to meet demands for water in areas where water resources are more fully allocated
- opportunities for the integration of land and water planning to deliver better water outcomes
- an emphasis on compliance and enforcement
- a push to reduce red tape and take a risk based approach
- an e-business environment.
The REFOCUS program is aimed at delivering improved services to stakeholders by streamlining and enhancing regulatory processes. REFOCUS seeks to achieve the following outcomes:
R reduced red tape and a risk based approach adopted
E efficient and effective processes
F faster approvals
O on-line applications and tracking
C compliance monitoring in high risk areas
U understanding and accountability (improved public information and reporting)
S sustainable water use
The department uses timeline targets to monitor and report on REFOCUS program progress.
How performance is measured
Stopping the clock
State government assessment processes under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 are beyond the control of the Department of Water. The department cannot issue a licence until assessment processes under these Acts have concluded, however we do commence concurrent assessments to ensure consistent and timely decision making.
Proponents are often required to provide additional information in support of their application.
Approvals performance measures therefore, exclude the time taken by the applicant to provide the necessary information in support of their application to allow the department to complete its assessment. It also excludes the time taken for other state government assessment processes outside of the department’s control. The “clock is stopped” in these instances.
For water licensing, the department implements its Operational policy no. 5.11: Timely submission of required further information to ensure that applications can progress as efficiently as possible.
Risk assignment of applications
Applications are currently assigned a risk profile according to the issues associated with the proposal or application. For water licensing, these issues include the volume of water requested, the level of water availability in the resource where the water is being requested and whether the application is for a 26D licence, 5C licence or a permit to interfere with bed and banks. A groundwater or surface water licence application is not assigned a risk category until it has been validated by the department, i.e. the application has all mandatory fields completed and contains all necessary supporting documentation. These would be assigned a risk when all information is received and validation completed.
Further refinement of the department’s risk assignment of applications will occur during 2015─2016.