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This year Mr Bernie George was awarded the prestigious Incitec Pivot Fertilisers Service to Industry Award.  Bernie is the Water Services and Compliance Manager at Australian Food & Fibre. Bernie has been delivering excellence in service to the cotton industry through various high-profile roles for over 30 years. He has worked in the Gwydir having been instramental in the development of the Auscott Midkin aggregation, and has represented various industry organisations including as Chair of the Cotton Australia Board and as a member of the National Irrigators Council and NSW Irrigators Council. It is wonderful to see Bernie recognised for his committment to the cotton and irrigation industry. 

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Keytah was announced as the 2022 Cotton Grower of the Year at the Australian Cotton Conference. Nick Gillingham, Keytah General Manager along with owners David and Danielle Statham are pictured receiving the award in August. Sundown Pastoral Company have been actively involved in irrigation efficiency research since 2009, they have willingly shared their experiences and understanding to help other producers adopt new and innovative technologies. The team are also farming St Ronans in Qld and have been instrumental in the creation of the Good Earth Cotton Company and FibreTrace. This award is well deserved and highlights that the Gwydir is still at the forefront of the Australian Cotton Industry. 

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At last NSW DPE recently confirmed that there is a new exemption for metering conditions for  "works used solely to take water under a basic landholder right".

This means, groundwater works in particular those that have an water access licence attached to the work ("the bore")  but you do not use it to irrigate, rather you only use it for stock and domestic purposes are now exempt from metering requirements.  This exemption is welcomed considering the cost implications for individuals with little benefit to the reform outcomes, as there is no water being used for irrigation anyway. 

You may want to inform WaterNSW to tag your work as not active for irrigation, however it is not a requirement. 

The below link refers to all the current exemptions available. 

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NSW DPI Fisheries is seeking Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from water users who would like financial and logistic assistance to upgrade their water diversion (pump or gravity-fed channel) with a modern fish-protection screen.

Modern screens keep fish and debris where they belong – in the river and out of infrastructure. They feature a large self-cleaning surface area that maintains the volume of water extracted, while using a fine mesh that limits the extraction of fish from our rivers. 

We encourage all members with surface water offtakes to apply, regardless of whether you are located in the priority area along the Mehi River or not. 

Applications are easy - just your works details and descriptions.  Visit the website for more information EOI - Fish Screens Australia

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Water NSW have announced a rescheduling of the regulator works at Tarelaroi Weir until April 2023.

Works to have the regulator back fully operational will need to occur prior to the commencement of this season's delivery which will result in a 1-2 week shut down period for the Mehi/Moomin.  The gates must be properly reinstalled to allow full operations.  

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WaterNSW confirmed today that all the approvals have been implemented to enable floodplain harvesting licences in the Gwydir Regulated River Water Source and the Gwydir Unregulated Water Sources, where there is a licence with allocation available to take water. 

The  announcement confirmed that these licences can be used provided the total storage in Menindee Lakes is greater than 195GL.  The Menindee Lakes currently have a total of 1,958 GL storage or at 113% capacity, which is 1000 times more water than the drought limit triggers which restrict floodplain harvesting access. Restrictions are also removed when local in-valley flow targets can be achieved, these our outlined for each management zone in the WSP.

For a copy of the announcement, visit WaterInsights. 

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DPE have made an allocation announcement for supplementary entitlements of 0.79 megalitres per unit share brining supplementary entitlements to 100% availability, this has come in response to the issuing of replacement floodplain harvesting licences in the regulated and unregulated water sources with water availability of 1 megalitre per unit shares.  These licences are now fully enabled.

This for the first time brings all licences into the water management framework and with 100% availability for all forms of take with general security accounts at their maximum of 150%.

I'll note Copeton Dam remains on spill operations to maintain capacity to 100% and more information is available on our webpage linked below. 

To review the water allocation please see the Department website.

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In a milestone for water management in the region, the NSW Water and Environment Minister’s jointly amended the Gwydir’s water sharing plans to include floodplain harvesting, the take of water during floods.

This is the final form of water in the region to be licensed and has taken 20 years of delays and deliberations with licences to begin by 1 September 2022.

Zara Lowien, the Executive Officer of the Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association whose members will be the first in NSW to be licenced for this form of take said this is not a win for northern irrigators, as it's often portrayed.

"On average water users in the Gwydir are losing 30% of their long-term access to flood water which will have more than a $90 million impact to our economy through less production" she said.

"Make no mistake, this is an environmental reform like no other.”

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The Water Sharing Plan for the Gwydir Regulated River Water Source and the Gwydir Unregulated Water Sources were amended and made available on Friday, 29 July 2022.

The updates include the floodplain as a source of water and the new account management, access and dealing rules for replacement floodplain harvesting licences which are due to commence no later than 1 September 2022. This is a major milestone for the near completion of the Healthy Floodplains Program in our region.

Update were also made to make these plans consistent with rules for the Basin Plan. 

The regulated plan can be accessed via sl-2022-429 (nsw.gov.au)

The unregulated plan can be accessed via sl-2022-430 (nsw.gov.au).

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The Mehi River has been flowing quickly through Moree as Copeton Dam spilled to make room for recent inflows.  These flows were largely shared between the Carole Ck and the Mehi River.  The releases were then used to fulfil orders for water users who are planning to irrigate wheat and ensure on farm supplies are ready for the upcoming cotton season.  

Releases from Copeton peaked at 7,000 ML per day and have reduced to 1,600 ML per day.  Currently, there is just under 3,000ML/day visible under the bridge through town as per the picture. 

WaterNSW are actively managing Copeton Dam to 99% capacity unless water orders reduce this volume.

For more information visit WaterInsights - WaterNSW

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The NSW Government has released a draft Groundwater Strategy which is currently open for consultation. The Strategy is available here for review.

Public webinars are available on 25th and 28th of July to hear about the strategy and its objective and priorities. 

The Gwydir region relies on a number of groundwater sources to maintain production during droughts as well as stock and domestic use around the catchment.  Groundwater also supplies many of our towns and commercial businesses.  

The GVIA will be participating in the public and targeted information sessions prior to preparing a submission. Please click the link for more information or to register for one of the public information webinars. 

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The NSW Government as enabled the establishment of replacement floodplain harvesting licences and mandatory metering conditions in regulation on 1 July 2022.

These regulations provide the framework to determine, issue and implement floodplain harvesting licencing in NSW.

The regulations provide for a temporary exemption to take rainfall run off collected in irrigation tailwater drains when no other overland flow is being intercepted - i.e. outside of floods.  This enables a consistent approach around NSW to ensuring irrigators can adopt best management practices and implement required environmental safeguards.

There were minor amendments to these regulations which can be summarised here.  

Local valley based water sharing plans must be amended to reflect the local implementation of these replacement licences. 

Making Every Drop Count

Securing a future for the Gwydir Valley through Irrigated Agriculture.