Floodplain harvesting is the capture and use of overland flow water flowing across a floodplain during a flood. Farmers everywhere in
NSW (north and south) capture over land flow water as part of their works approval requirements to store rainfall on farm to mitigate
environmental impacts. Farms are specifically designed for this purpose.
Farmers on floodplains have flood protection works designed to exclude overland flow outside of the developed area, to protect their crops, homes and farm infrastructure from damage.
Overland flows generally occur only when there is major flooding. If there’s no flooding, there’s no floodwater to capture. The localised flooding in the Namoi and Lower Gwydir Valleys (Mehi region) this last month has been the first event since 2011 and 2012 for these regions.
GVIA a united voice for our industry
The GVIA represents in excess of 450 water entitlement holders in the Gwydir Valley. The organisation works to represent the interests of
our members and secure a viable future for our region through ensuring water rights are protected and water use by members, the environment
and our river operators is efficient and sustainable. We work together to build a better future for our region and make every drop
Our role provides a voice for our industry and region to decision makers, our local community and the broader public. This can involve writing and commenting on policy proposals, inquiries and participating in meetings with key stakeholders including Ministers and Department staff. We take seriously our role in improving grower research and innovation in our industry.
Zero allocations for non-critical water users
Irrigators in the Gwydir Valley have had zero allocation of general security or supplementary water this year. A small limited announcement was made last week. Any irrigated annual crops being grown this season are grown on groundwater. No general security water was permitted to be delivered this year. Permanent plantings are supported by high security water which was delivered via bulk releases and groundwater.Read More
Water is allocated to licences not crops
When water availability is higher than requirements for critical needs, the WMA Act 2000 and local water sharing rules provide a framework
to share that additional water between industry and the environment. Allocations are the physical water that maybe provided under
these sharing rules. The volume of allocation made available to an individual is determined by the total volume available to be
shared. This volume is divided by the number of shares that individual is licenced for.
Water is allocated based on these principles and is not allocated to a specific crop. Individuals make the decision on what crop to grow with the allocation they receive.
There is a range of different irrigated crops grown in the Gwydir Valley, including cotton, horticulture and lucerne. We are home to the largest pecan farm in the Southern Hemisphere and one of Australia's largest juicing orange orchards. Farmers have even tried hemp, it is not currently a viable option, but may be in the future.
Reliability of Water
The Gwydir is characterised as having low water reliability, in the last 10-years irrigators have accessed only 19% of river inflows for
General Security use and 8% for supplementary. The majority of water held as general security water with a reliability of 36%.
Supplementary water entitlement is somewhat more reliable with 55% but accounts for less than a quarter of the total volume. There is
around 40,000ML available as high security or groundwater entitlement which is considered highly reliable.
General Security water is stored in Copeton dam, derived from rainfall and river flow above the dam.
Supplementary water is unregulated flows downstream of the dam, it is only announced after environmental flows to the wetlands. After that all remaining flows are shared equally between the environment and licence holders (including environmental licence holders)
Environmental Water Management
The GVIA supports the better management of environmental water provided that all water rights are equally respected. Environmental water holders own 28.5% of High Security entitlements, 29% of General Security including the ECA and 13% of Supplementary. We need to better share the outcomes being achieved on environmental water and ensure these outcomes are not undermined by ignoring non-flow complementary measures. Non-flow complementary measures include things such as fish passages at weirs or riparian management.Read More
Water Take Measurement
The GVIA supports that all water take should be measured with the majority of take to be metered through highly accurate devices. All measurement must be auditable, verifiable and within accuracy requirements. We know active irrigators in our region adopt the most accurate technology commercially available.Read More
Water available to the Environment
Water for irrigation is limited and the volume has been decreasing over-time due to government reforms. WaterNSW information indicates 66% of all river flows are reserved for the environment and another 5% is actively managed by environmental water holders who have approximately 29% of regulated general security river entitlement and another 28.5% of high security entitlement has been either purchased or diverted from irrigators in the Gwydir Valley for the environment. A further 13% of supplementary entitlement has been purchased, this is on top of the 50% share already received during each unregulated event. Unregulated events occur when there are inflows into the river below the dam.Read More