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DPIEW have announced the latest water availability with a 40% allocation bringing this years total to 160.4%; general security accounts have a 150% limit and the environmental contingency allowance has 200%.  All of these accounts are full, with 36,100 megalitres of surplus unallocated in Copeton Dam.

The Dam remains steady at 96% with deliveries from some stream flows occurring, dam releases equalled inflows of 215,000 megalitres with around 64,000 megalitres ordered by licence holders during the time.    

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The Natural Resources Commission is undertaking their audit and review of the Water Sharing Plan for the Gwydir Unregulated Water Sources 2012, due every 10-years. Previous reviews by the NRC have been controversial as in the 5-year review of the Barwon Darling (here) resulting in significant changes including, active management, increased commence to pump thresholds and new restrictions following drought periods called resumption of flow rules.

The key areas as guided by the NRC are:

  • Environmental outcomes: examples of how the plan rules provide for environmental outcomes.
  • Social outcomes: examples of how has having ‘a plan’ allowed for improve social outcomes for you, your region and community.
  • Economic outcomes: examples of the value of a licence, clear rules and a trading market.
GVIA will be preparing a submission which is due on 6 February 2022.  You can provide your own submission or to see more see the NRC Review.

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The NSW Government finally issued an exemption and outlined the process to apply for water users who do not have enough network connectivity (are in a black spot) to install a telemetry unit on their compliant water meter site. This exemption comes after raising this issue since 2017 and NRAR issuing letter of advice to water users who had not been able to be fully compliant because of this issue. 

There are three steps to apply for this exemption, which allow water users or duly qualified persons to identify whether a site is within network coverage and to apply using the standardised form.  Please ensure this exemption is added as an update to your file in the DQP portal so that all agencies have access. 

We are continuing to work through the remaining outstanding issues that require an exemption. 

News |

WaterNSW have eased Copeton Dam releases and they remain steady since 14 December, with 1,500 megalitres per day being released.

Flood warnings have ceased for the Gwydir Valley in response, with the tail of the released water expected to pass through all of the effluent creeks and streams now that flow rates are within the scope of operations of the river infrastructure.

For information on river heights, visit WaterInsights. 

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As flood waters continue to move along our river systems now reaching western communities such as Mungindi, Collarenebri and Walgett and spill operations for major storages continuing, including the recent addition of Menindee Lakes.  This flooding is occurring as the NSW Upper House report into Floodplain Harvesting[1] declared the historical practice is legal and should be measured and licenced.  

“The community rightly expect, is that whenever industry has access to water, it is only to our share, that the limits are policed and that it is very transparent, even in floods when there is water everywhere” she said.

“We agree and that is why we’ve supported the licencing of Floodplain Harvesting -  a long-standing, historical form of take that happens when rivers and our floodplains are spilling, so that all forms of take are consistently managed in our valley” she said.

“Our position was supported by the Upper House Committee report which highlighted the need for measurement of storages and our rivers to properly account for water use and licencing to ensure all limits in state and Federal legislation could be achieved and monitored”.

“These are all key elements of the reform which the majority of stakeholders agree, it is what the community expects and should be implemented state-wide” she said.

[1] https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/inquiries/2818/Report%20no.%201%20-%20Select%20Committee%20-%20Floodplain%20harvesting%20-%20December%202021.pdf

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The Gwydir Valley is currently experiencing a once in a decade event with Copeton Dam filling and spilling, along with most rivers and streams flowing naturally. 

Zara Lowien, Executive Officer of Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association who represents water users in the valley said whilst it is rare to see Copeton Dam this full and spilling, this signifies the region is at the start of the boom, of our historical boom and bust cycle here in the Gwydir Valley.

“Copeton Dam filling and our rivers constantly flowing, as they have for nearly a year now, is exactly what happens here when it finally does rain” she said.

“These conditions are a far cry from those a few years ago, when environmental water and high security deliveries were the only sources of water keeping parts of our rivers flowing, while others just didn’t flow at all” she said.

News |

WaterNSW advised releases from Copeton Dam have decreased to 5,000ML/day.  Copeton Dam remains steady at 99% capacity, with all accounts at their maximum allocation. 

The water releases take 4-5 days before reaching Pallamallawa.

The Gwydir River at Yarraman remains at a minor flood level, with additional inflows below Gravesend combining with spill releases from Copeton Dam.  Keep an eye on the BOM weather warnings for any flood warning updates. 

News |

From 1 December 2021, along with the last stage of new metering requirements for the Valley the NSW Government also kicks of new reporting needs.

These are for water users that use their work for multiple purposes and they require you to report the split in your licensed water and Basic Landholder Rights use, to ensure water is not deducted off your license.  Without reporting, all the water use measured will be considered licensed.  The rules also include self meter reads for those water users who do not have telemetry.  The rules are explained here https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/metering-archive/new-reporting-rules .

The rules are rather Draconian for water users that do not use water for irrigation but have a licensed attached to the work and therefore have the potential to irrigate, as you need to add up the water used each month and report it as BLR.  We would encourage you to write with your first report, complaining about these requirements as you are not an active irrigator but want to use the work for Basic Landholder Rights.  We did provide a submission at the time which was clearly ignored. 

The attached approved form, which also has to be used is provided in the below link.

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WaterNSW advised that releases from Copeton Dam were increased to 16,000 megalitres per day and again, to 20,000 megalitres per day to account for recent rainfall upstream at Bundarra and with the current forecast.  

These flows are now meeting with existing inflows and the the flows are larger and more sustained than the stream capacity of any system, downstream (West) of Moree township being: the Lower Gwydir and Gingham, Mehi, Moomin and the Carole and Gil Gil systems. Flooding in low lying areas or known chokes in these systems is likely as a result of these flows and that is before any further inflows.  Flooding is already occurring along the Lower Gwydir, Gingham and Carole systems from earlier this week and local inflows.  

For a comparison of past floods, their heights and flow rates please visit our webpage History of Flooding, whcih was updated to reflect the flood already this week. 

News |

For the first time since July 2012, Copeton Dam has reached 99% and WaterNSW have had to release water to make airspace for inflows, which are the tail of the current event at Bundarra on the Gwydir River.  This is only the fifth time since construction the dam has reached this level. 

Releases at this stage are 5,000 megalitres/day for the next few days, depending on the weather. WaterNSW will aim to maintain Copeton at 100%, no more or no less.  These flows are well within the operational capacity of WaterNSW downstream near Moree. 

All accounts associated with Copeton Dam are now full, with some unallocated water. 

Releases are considered unregulated events and shared accordingly.

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The Bureau of Meteorology have issued a moderate flood warning again for the Gwydir Valley, with Major flooding expected at Yarraman of 7m by Tuesday. 

Follow the BOM Flood Warning updates here.

Follow and check in with river heights along the river via the BOM river network here.  WaterNSW systems (WaterInsights - the preferred platform, WaterLive app and Realtime data) are overloaded and at times have delayed data or cannot be displayed.

Fast Facts |

The Gwydir Valley is a distributary river system, which spreads our rivers and creeks across the Gwydir Floodplain which acts as a large inland delta. Our rivers spill out naturally to these floodplains when they are full and spilling.  Not every flood is the same, they range in magnitude of height and duration and can occur from locally generated rain or from rainfall further upstream of the catchment. 
Recent flood warnings in December 2020 were predicted because of upstream rainfall and inflows.  This was a short, sharp and small flow which has created limited flooding.  For example, the height at Pallamallawa was half of that experienced in 2011 and 2012 when the entire north-west was in flood. This flow also didn't contain a lot of water but its peak flow rate at Pallamallawa of 33,000 ML/day was still higher than the operating capacity of the regulator and cannot be managed.  Rather this water flows naturally, unmanaged by WaterNSW to the watercourse the lowest point of our inland delta and towards the Gwydir Wetlands.

Making Every Drop Count

Securing a future for the Gwydir Valley through Irrigated Agriculture.