Environmental Watering Update

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Environmental Watering Update - Summer 2019-20

The NSW and Commonwealth Governments will undertake periodic, critical refuge pool flows throughout the summer of 2019-20 int he Gwydir Valley.  

These flows will focus on protecting key water dependent assets such as native fish communities and supporting the resilience of rivers and wetlands to ensure they are ready to respond when rain and river flows return to the catchment.

The flows are expected to utilise around 12GL of environmental water that is stored in Copeton Dam as carryover in the NSW, Commonwealth and Environmental Contingeny Allowance accounts.  For updated availability and use, see our page current water availability.

For more information on the planning process and targeted outcomes, please see the Gwydir Valley Annual Environmental Watering Priorities 2019-20 produced by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Updates on these events are available below.

Gwydir River - March 2019

12 November 2019: Gwydir Refuge Pool update #1

Extremely dry and warm conditions in the Gwydir valley combined with a lack of inflows, has meant river pools across the system are drying out. Prior to the flow, the Mehi River at Moree had not flowed for more than 100 days.

Helping native fish survive during the dry is the key purpose for this watering action. Water has started to top up and maintain good water quality in the deeper refuge pools in the Mehi, Gwydir and Carole systems around Moree.

Initial environmental water releases are being used to restart the rivers after an extended period of no flow. After river startup, flows will be in combination with WaterNSW releases for stock and domestic flows down the systems .

Overall pools and water quality along the Gwydir, Mehi and Carole systems have improved, and will support native fish in the wider system as we go into summer under the tough conditions everyone is experiencing.

Unfortunately a fish death event has occurred in the Mehi River system which is currently being investigated by NSW DPIE Fisheries. Approximately 200-300 dead fish were observed in the Mehi River downstream of Moree on 5 November, with a number of species and size ranges affected. These fish were mostly Bony Herring which is a particularly fragile species. There has also been deaths of a small number of Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Carp. Further fish deaths are possible if conditions stay hot and dry, but we expect that many more fish will have improved survival chances across summer as a result of this flow.

Community members can report fish deaths to the Fishers Watch hotline on 1800 043 536.

For more information, visit the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office update page.

If you wish receive further updates, email jane.humphries@environment.gov.au.

Making Every Drop Count

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