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Water users, their communities, and environments right around the Murray-Darling Basin had their calls to the NSW Government for better management of water, answered as the NSW Government made regulations to enable the management, measurement, and accounting of the final source of water in NSW which is taken off the floodplains.

Zara Lowien said “These three regulations outline the mechanics to enable the calculation, issuing and enforcement of limits in our local water plans through mandatory metering of floodplain take[1], which has not existed previously” she said

“They mean NSW Government can now manage all forms of water take, right across NSW consistently” she said.

[1] Refer to Fast Facts about Floodplain Harvesting for a description of this form of water take.

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One week after saying two-thirds of water users were not making effort with metering reforms the Natural Access Resource Regulator has changed their mind.

The Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association stand firm saying the regulator was out of line in their approach to the media, using untested data from inadequate systems which have been proven wrong with new field data released today.  Mrs Zara Lowien from Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association said “this new information confirms how important on-site information and ensuring boots on the ground are used in compliance just not desk-top studies.”

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Irrigation Australia - the national organisation representing the Australian irrigation industry in all sectors from water users, manufacturers, retailers, consultants, designers and installers, finds it disappointing that this article conveys an impression that irrigators are deliberately avoiding their obligations under the new regulations. The facts are quite different and comments of this nature risk undoing much of the good work and goodwill that irrigators, irrigator groups and duly qualified persons (DQPs) have undertaken to support the NSW Government objective of accurately measuring water take in NSW

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The Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association hit back saying the regulator was out of line in their approach to the media, using untested data from inadequate systems with suspicious timing.  They believe all this does, is confirm that the metering reforms was an overly ambitious and poorly planned policy from the beginning.
(Photo: Federal Senators from the Senate Select Committee members into the Multijurisdictional Management and Execution of the Murray Darling Basin Plan during their tour in Moree, this week looking at a fully compliant, transitioned meter)

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Copeton Dam is at 40% and steady and as a result, general security allocations have increased by 39.12% resulting in 54.8% allocation for the year for environmental and production.  Most of this water will be carried over to be used at a later time.

Full supplementary allocations were also made available with up to 116,000 ML ordered by irrigators and 5,700 ML by environmental water holders during these events.

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WaterNSW have initiated flood forecasting and reporting following the recent widespread rain and flooding in the Gwydir, Border Rivers, Macquarie and Culgoa.  This replicates and updates their reporting during the First Flush event in 2020.  The most recent update on 6 April revealed between 400-600GL to flow into Menindee Lakes from all the tributaries.  However, forecasting is limited due to the nature of the floodplain flows and natural breakouts along the Barwon River. 
Its great to see so many rivers full and spilling. 
How the water is managed once it reaches Menindee Lakes will be closely scrutinised given the likely volumes and the many competing interests there.  The NSW Water Minister recently said "NSW will be making decisions on how to manage the inflows into the Menindee System with the first objective being to improve water supplies in the Lower Darling coimmunities and ensure the top two Lakes are filled" via The Land ift.tt/3wybHSV.

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The peak of the floods in the Gwydir Valley have passed through the township of Moree and are heading west. Many describe this event as being two floods, the one caused initially from local rainfall of between 100-200mm and then the flood from upstream water sources like the Horton River into the Gwydir and Mehi systems, that came at least three-days later.

Local rainfall and unregulated water is therefore, now being backed up by the major floodwaters from upstream, which is likely to result in sustained, major flooding in the lower sections of the Gwydir floodplain.  

All the rivers and creeks in the lower floodplain are flowing above capacity as water spills out.  There is 100% supplementary access available.  During this time, Copeton Dam has increased from 22% to 39% capacity during this event, with a resource allocation likely in early April in response.

There is a history of flooding in the Gwydir Valley and the peak height of the flood in Moree and surrounding gauges is provided on our page 'History of Flooding' and compared with previous large and major floods.

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Disaster recovery funding has been declared for Moree, Gwydir and Inverell Shire areas in response to flooding.  

Assistance available under the Disaster Relief Funding Agreement with the Commonwealth may include:

  • help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged
  • support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
  • concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
  • freight subsidies for primary producers, and
  • grants to eligible non-profit organisations.
To apply for a concessional loan or grant, contact the NSW Rural Assistance Authority on 1800 678 593 or visit www.raa.nsw.gov.au

Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and Service NSW at www.disasterassistance.service.nsw.gov.au

Also, we encourage you to fill out the Natural Disaster Damage Survey https://fal.cn/3ecfO. The survey is for NSW DPI and Local Land Services NSW staff, farmers and agricultural industry representatives can use to record damage to primary production and animals from natural disasters.

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The Bureau of Meteorology have issued the first MAJOR Flood Warning for the Gwydir Valley with a peak today in the afternoon.  Local rainfall and inflows may mean this peak is earlier.  

Key sites to monitor are the BOM - Gwydir Flood Warning
To watch river levels WaterNSW - WaterLive app or Realtime Water Data
For advice at what to do in a flood visit SES website

For flood comparisons, visit our webpage 'History of Flooding' where we have a comparison of this event to past floods.

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Currently NSW are implementing a compliance and licencing reform for floodplain harvesting take, when our rivers and floodplains are full and spilling but NSW are designing it without any consideration to social and economic factors in the communities in the northern basin.
Water users accept that legal limits must be recognised, but decisions on how to achieve these limits must consider the socio-economic impacts on community that’s because past reforms have taught us how important water is to our community.  We know every $1 lost at the farm gate will take a minimum of $2.18 from our economy, it means less money to spend in shops and businesses, less jobs and less families and less services in our community.
None of us can afford for government to put us in a man-made drought while we are still recovering from this one.
We are asking everyone to get involved to help ensure our voice is heard. 
HAVE YOUR SAY and provide a submission to government on these rules via this link, to put our communities back into the picture.
Key in this process is questions 8.1 and 9.1, whereby flexibility to have access to a flood is essential for our community.  We estimate the community impact of this to be conservatively, $1.1B if we cannot enact some change right now.

Making Every Drop Count

Securing a future for the Gwydir Valley through Irrigated Agriculture.