Coordinated environmental flow trial underway

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Coordinated environmental flow trial underway

Deliveries of NSW and Commonwealth environmental water have begun from Copeton Dam in the Gwydir Valley as part of a coordinated effort to deliver held environmental water from northern catchments.  Deliveries are anticipated to also be released from the Border Rivers and Namoi storages with up to 31 gigalitres being planned for delivery.

Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA) executive officer, Zara Lowien said that this is the first-time a coordinated approach has been trialled from multiple catchments.

“Up to 20.6 gigalitres of water will be delivered in low volumes down the length of the Gwydir River into the Mehi River and Carole Creek for release into the Barwon River with simultaneous releases from other dams.” She said 

“Delivering environmental water is not new in the Gwydir but deliveries are usually for in-valley specific outcomes like the Gwydir wetlands.” 

“The multi-catchment coordinated approach is a first for environmental managers and is only possible due to the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.” 

“We’re of the understanding water is targeted for Wilcannia in Western NSW but as it moves through our system it will provide local instream benefits, particularly keeping the rivers and streams below Copeton flowing, possibly through to winter.”

“Deliveries were designed to recognise the low level of connectivity between the Gwydir and the Barwon and are not expected to impact the ability of environmental managers to meet any future in-valley environmental requirements, with current reserves of 134 gigalitres in Copeton Dam.”

“Whilst we welcome the protection of these flows throughout the length of the system, we are keen to pursue a long-lasting approach to managing environmental flows and we hope the lessons from this event are used to inform that future discussion.”  

“We will be interested in seeing the monitoring results to assess operational and environmental outcomes, after all, the delivery is the first of its kind and will be highly scrutinised” she said.

For more information:

  • The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holders' media release can be accessed here
  • WaterNSW's new Barwon Darling Management Zone Map for reviewing flows is available here.

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