Bureaucracy gone madder

I am a consumer of water, I need to know about water plans and such in the agricultural context. NSW Water is the responsible agency in my case.

Yesterday 18th Feb I got mail - a new draft water plan for my catchment is available and I have until 27 the Feb to comment.

  1. The Plan was revealed the same day the letter was sent 17 January. Either NSW Water cannot date their correspondence accurately or The Post is being thick as - a post - again.
  2. I looked online as indicated in the letter. There is a great deal of waffle and process material. No executive summary, no cheat sheet, no list of dots points of important changes or ‘what you need to know’.
  3. The only actual content is the draft Plan itself which is 50 pages of closely structured officialese down to the section, division, part and paragraph. It has no summary. I couldn’t make myself read it.
  4. They say my submission is important! I tried to lodge a comment (before the cut off date) to say how about some more user-friendly information, it could have all the disclaimers they like saying you must read the full document if you need the detail. I just want a heads up to see if I need to read it at all.
  5. To make a comment I would have to fill out a 16 page questionnaire (yes sixteen) on screen. I quit after page two.

I am defeated. Now matter how important my comment might be they are not going to hear it. Which probably explains how they manage to mount such a user-hostile information campaign in the first place.


You have met and identified the reality they are not interested in anything to interrupt their plans and you are trying to engage in faux consultation made as difficult as possible.

Have you identified the real stakeholders in NSW Water that will benefit and who they have ties to? All by 27 Feb if you are a really fast writer?


No, there may be none, my catchment is not hotly contested and there are no big agribusiness players. There may be something like that elsewhere of course: not my circus, not my monkeys.

There may be nothing of significance at all, these plans have to be updated every ten (I think) years and much content is schedules of permitted usage etc that any given property owner may or may not need to know but there is little to be done about it as the rules are fairly formulaic and the amount of water you get depends mainly on rainfall.

OTOH these plans can be the vehicles for changes such as the introduction of new meters or compliance regimes which may require negotiation. I would expect if that was the case to hear about it some other way.

I think it is likely a case of there being no need to suppose a conspiracy when simple incompetence will explain the facts.


Ditto, although experience of regulated schemes in NSW and QLD seems to reflect the interests of the largest users. They are not many in number compared to those with lesser interests by volume required.

Where it becomes challenging is trying to determine if in meeting the needs of the largest users, the determinations and any changes truely consider the best interests of those with lesser needs?


The largest single entity stakeholders are almost without exception canvassed, or arrange to have their views put forward, at the developmental stage so that the draft paper incorporates or indeed represents their needs.