Metering progress - Stage 1
The realities of metering statistics are very different to the story being communicated by NRAR.
Valley based tracking of progress is available via NRAR and is presented on our new page below. Here we also capture the key barriers encountered by different users in these different categories. We thank everyone for their efforts to comply and despite some of the media coverage, we encourage you to keep up the good work.
There will be significant challenges for Stage 2 - administratively, as well as in terms of resourcing with 7,601 istes in the northern inland required to be compliant to the new rules by 1 December 2021. Please do not leave contacting a DQP if you are in this next stage to the last minute.
WaterNSW would like to remind customers that supplementary water is available with unregulated inflows occuring downstream of Copeton
These flows are providing water right along our river systems, the first 500ML/day are being delivered to the wetlands but any flows greater than that are being shared 50:50 between the environment and customers. WaterNSW indicated downstream tributary inflows greater than the minimum flow to the wetlands are being diverted away from this area where possible, unless ordered by customers. These rules and this operations, are enabling sharing of flows along our rivers and and beyond with more than 40,000ML flowing past Collarenbri from the Mehi alone this last month.
Contact WaterNSW via email at RiverOpsNorth@waternsw.com.au, or alternately by contacting Roger Hunt or Ken Gee.
State-wide total dam capacity
Copeton Dam has been rising since December 2020 since catchment wide rainfall began to fall with around 600GL of inflows over this time. This
rising trend is being followed right around NSW, with the current state-wide storage capacity at 74% (Copeton Dam just below the
state average at 63%).
However, percentages don't tell the whole story in the context of total water available around the state.
The northern basin has 71% availability equalling, 1,982GL of water, the central west is above the state average at 75% with 2,230GL of water available and the souther basin also above the state average at 77% full has 8,876GL of water available. We set up a new page on our website to explore this here.
Frustration rises over metering
Irrigators argue NRAR's statement was misleading given some works fell into that category due to factors outside their control - such as
back-log in the supply and installation of government-approved meters and telemetry equipment.
Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) announcing they were taking enforcement action after statewide inspections found 45 per cent of inspected pumps were still not fitted with compliant meters.
GVIA said: "Its hard to be compliant to new rules when in some instances there isn't an approved replacement meter available or if your still waiting for it to arrive after ordering it. Many of these replacement meter jobs you cannot just buy a meter and stick it in a pipe, they're custom built and designed and take significant planning and lead time.
We'd like to thank our local service providers for their perseverance with these new rules, your patience in trying to solve these complex problems bought about by a poorly formed set of rules. We are grateful for all your effort for the industry so far. "
Current water availabilityy
The resource assessment for Copeton Dam up to 30 June 2021 was made available with the first allocation for the year being granted to
general security water users and the ECA of 11.1%. This bring the irrigation total water availability for this year, including
carry over to 264,400ML while environmental accounts hold 125,600ML.
Supplementary water announcements are also ongoing with inflows below Copeton Dam being shared 50:50 with the environment after the first 500ML are provided to the Gwydir Wetlands.
Starting allocations 2021-2022
NSW DPIE - Water announced starting allocations for the 2021-22 water year, on 1 July 2021.
All groundwater and surface water users received their 1ML per unit share allocation, OTHER THAN general security users who are likely to receive a new resource assessment later this month and supplementary water users who received only 0.5ML per unit share. This is the first time supplementary licences have been reduced below 1ML per unit share, and is in response to the recent disallowance of the government's proposed regulations to reduce, measure and account for floodplain harvesting in our water sharing plan see our previous media release.
General security carry over of 214,000ML from allocations previously will be available for this new year.
Gwydir and Border Rivers will see reduced supplementary allocations
The Land's Olivia Calver reported: Gwydir Valley irrigators have hit out at the NSW Parliament after supplementary water users in the
Gwydir and Border Rivers were informed their allocations would be reduced, as an apparent consequence of floodplain harvesting regulations
The floodplain harvesting regulations were disallowed by the NSW Upper House last month, with the opposition and cross-bench calling for downstream targets to be established before the government is given "a blank cheque" for floodplain harvesting legislation.
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey appeared to confirm the supplementary water restriction was a result of the disallowance in a statement from her office.
"Until floodplain harvesting licences and rules are implemented, any unmanaged growth in water use will have to be offset through reduced allocations for supplementary water licences, in line with Water Sharing Plan rules," the statement read.
"The FPH policy and regs apply to all water users across NSW."
Reduction in supplementary rights an inequitable response
“You don’t rob Peter, the supplementary licence holder to pay Paul, the floodplain harvester. It’s not a fair and equitable way to
manage water and it’s not good policy”.
This decision is in response to the failure of Minister Pavey to gain NSW parliament support of regulations to enable the licensing of a separate form of take, floodplain harvesting. Which in May 2021 the Legislative Council blocked regulation aimed at reducing floodplain harvesting to legal limits and ensuring all water taken from the floodplains was measured and accounted.
GVIA, Executive Officer Zara Lowien said “we made it clear at the time that communities around the Murray Darling would be worse off without a floodplain harvesting licencing framework. We are now seeing the consequences of that misguided decision” she said.
Weir back up and operational
WaterNSW advises that Tareelaroi Weir on the Gwydir River is now operational.
Tareelaroi Weir was temporarily out of service as a result of the floods in late March.
With the Tareelaroi Weir gates now operational, water in excess of the environmental provisions of the Water Sharing Plan may be diverted to the Mehi River.
Normal operations will resume, with downstream tributary flows expected to provide minor stock and domestic/riparian flows throughout the valley.
Current Water Availability
DPIE Water provided the last resource assessment for the 2020/2021 water year, with a 0.9% general security allocation. This
brings the total allocation for this water year to 58%. Essential supplies are secured for two-years in advance.
The assessment is available here.
Starting allocations will be announced on 1 July 2021 with the next resource assessment to be available on 7 June.