Water availability update
Copeton Dam is at 40% and steady and as a result, general security allocations have increased by 39.12% resulting in 54.8% allocation for
the year for environmental and production. Most of this water will be carried over to be used at a later time.
Full supplementary allocations were also made available with up to 116,000 ML ordered by irrigators and 5,700 ML by environmental water holders during these events.
WaterNSW reporting on flood outcomes
WaterNSW have initiated flood forecasting and reporting following the recent widespread rain and flooding in the Gwydir, Border Rivers,
Macquarie and Culgoa. This replicates and updates their reporting during the First Flush event in 2020. The most
recent update on 6
April revealed between 400-600GL to flow into Menindee Lakes from all the tributaries. However, forecasting is limited due to the nature of
the floodplain flows and natural breakouts along the Barwon River.
Its great to see so many rivers full and spilling.
How the water is managed once it reaches Menindee Lakes will be closely scrutinised given the likely volumes and the many competing interests there. The NSW Water Minister recently said "NSW will be making decisions on how to manage the inflows into the Menindee System with the first objective being to improve water supplies in the Lower Darling coimmunities and ensure the top two Lakes are filled" via The Land ift.tt/3wybHSV.
The peak of the floods in the Gwydir Valley have passed through the township of Moree and are heading west. Many describe this event as
being two floods, the one caused initially from local rainfall of between 100-200mm and then the flood from upstream water sources like the
Horton River into the Gwydir and Mehi systems, that came at least three-days later.
Local rainfall and unregulated water is therefore, now being backed up by the major floodwaters from upstream, which is likely to result in sustained, major flooding in the lower sections of the Gwydir floodplain.
All the rivers and creeks in the lower floodplain are flowing above capacity as water spills out. There is 100% supplementary access available. During this time, Copeton Dam has increased from 22% to 39% capacity during this event, with a resource allocation likely in early April in response.
There is a history of flooding in the Gwydir Valley and the peak height of the flood in Moree and surrounding gauges is provided on our page 'History of Flooding' and compared with previous large and major floods.
Disaster Declaration Moree, Gwydir and Inverell Shires
Disaster recovery funding has been declared for Moree, Gwydir and Inverell Shire areas in response to flooding.
Assistance available under the Disaster Relief Funding Agreement with the Commonwealth may include:
- help for eligible people whose homes or belongings have been damaged
- support for affected local councils to help with the costs of cleaning up and restoring damaged essential public assets
- concessional interest rate loans for small businesses, primary producers and non-profit organisations
- freight subsidies for primary producers, and
- grants to eligible non-profit organisations.
Further information on disaster assistance is available on the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website at www.disasterassist.gov.au and Service NSW at www.disasterassistance.service.nsw.gov.au
Also, we encourage you to fill out the Natural Disaster Damage Survey https://fal.cn/3ecfO. The survey is for NSW DPI and Local Land Services NSW staff, farmers and agricultural industry representatives can use to record damage to primary production and animals from natural disasters. Read More
Flood warning Gwydir
The Bureau of Meteorology have issued the first MAJOR Flood Warning for the Gwydir Valley with a peak today in the afternoon. Local
rainfall and inflows may mean this peak is earlier.
Key sites to monitor are the BOM - Gwydir Flood Warning
To watch river levels WaterNSW - WaterLive app or Realtime Water Data
For advice at what to do in a flood visit SES website
For flood comparisons, visit our webpage 'History of Flooding' where we have a comparison of this event to past floods.
Consultation closes today on new rules
Currently NSW are implementing a compliance and licencing reform for floodplain harvesting take, when our rivers and floodplains are full
and spilling but NSW are designing it without any consideration to social and economic factors in the communities in the northern basin.
Water users accept that legal limits must be recognised, but decisions on how to achieve these limits must consider the socio-economic impacts on community that’s because past reforms have taught us how important water is to our community. We know every $1 lost at the farm gate will take a minimum of $2.18 from our economy, it means less money to spend in shops and businesses, less jobs and less families and less services in our community.
None of us can afford for government to put us in a man-made drought while we are still recovering from this one.
We are asking everyone to get involved to help ensure our voice is heard.
HAVE YOUR SAY and provide a submission to government on these rules via this link, to put our communities back into the picture.
Key in this process is questions 8.1 and 9.1, whereby flexibility to have access to a flood is essential for our community. We estimate the community impact of this to be conservatively, $1.1B if we cannot enact some change right now.
Groundwater tracking tool
The NSW Government has released their newest tool to monitor, manage and communicate to water users and the community groundwater
take. The amount of groundwater that can be extracted from a groundwater source is limited. While the amount extracted by all
water users varies each year, on average it cannot exceed the extraction limits. Before July each year, the department assesses if average
extraction over the previous five years has exceeded the long-term average annual extraction limit plus a buffer (called the compliance
This tool can help identify risks to valley compliance and given water usage has reduced, the Lower Gwydir groundwater is unlikely to breach any required limits and this is explained in this report.
The February Copeton Dam assessment was completed with no further allocations provided. All essential supply and delivery accounts are fully reserved and deliveries have returned to on-demand, as opposed to bulk ordered. The region remains on 15.57% allocation with 232GL stored in Copeton Dam.Read More
Floodplain Harvesting results released
By releasing draft floodplain harvesting rules and updated modeling results for the Gwydir Valley the NSW Government took another small but
important step forward in transitioning this historical form of take into the current regulatory framework, 20-years in the making.
The process, won't be without impact but will have broad benefits as well. Volumetric licensing together with modern measurement and compliance, is the only way to have greater transparency and accountability for everyone who shares in floods. Its why we have particpated in it and its time to move forward from estimating such interceptions and start defining and managing them better.
The documenation is extensive and includes the modeling process applied to update models with the best information and better represent floodplain harvesting, as well as, proposes new rules for Regulated and Unregulated Water Sharing Plans in the region. There are a range of companion reports on environmental benefits and downstream outcomes and all of the reports are available from the Department's website.
More information on floodplain havresting in the Gwydir Valley is available on our Floodplain Flow and Licensing page.
WaterNSW have announced supplementary access in the Gwydir Valley which shares unregulated flows 50:50 between the environment and water
users. This is following recent localised rainfall below Copeton Dam between 100-200mm with more inflows expected as ungauged inflows are measured. Current announcement between 5-20% depending on on your location equalling approximately 14,000 megaltires. You must
place an eligible water order.
An operations update on current river flows is available from WaterNSW.
Water sharing plan rules provide for win-win
Recent localised rainfall in the Gwydir Valley means the region is fortunate enough to have generated local unregulated inflows below
Copeton Dam. The flow rate and volume means localised flooding will occur and moderate and minor flood warnings have been issues for some
sections of the river.
These natural inflows come at a time when general security users are on just 5% allocation and Copeton Dam is at 13%. Current interested general security users were receiving their allocation in bulk to reduce losses, this has provided connectivity in most sections of the river.
Our water sharing plan rules set a clear and transparent process to ensure flows for connectivity and our internationally recognised wetlands, whilst sharing any surplus water to benefit our community, it’s people and it’s economy.
The BOM also provided flood warnings in the Gwydir Valley, on the Gwydir River at Gravesend a minor warning with moderate downstream of
Pallamallawa and minor warning for the Mehi River. Flows are estimated to be above the safe operating level of river infrastructure
and will be largely unmanageable. They will naturally flow towards the watercourse area to peak at this stage Friday evening.
Keep updated via the BOM flood watch and be safe.
What happens if my meter is not working
If you become aware that your meter is not working or is faulty, it is your responsibility to register using a s.91i self reporting
process within 24 hours . You have 21 days then to have a Duly Qualified Person inspect your meter. This process is also to be used if you have recently
installed an approved local intelligence device (telemetry unit) as per the NSW non-urban Metering Rules and for some reason it is not
connecting to the Data Acquisition Service or functioning correctly.
Provided you have a fully functioning water meter with data logging capability or are keeping appropriate records according to your licence conditions of water take, time, volume and purpose, you are not required to lodge a s.91i self report to access water ordered during this upcoming bulk delivery, even if you are awaiting final validation of your meter or install of your telemetry according to the new NSW non-urban Metering rules.
This delivery presents an opportunity for water users with approved water orders, to undertake flow testing and operational checks required to finalise your validation process, please let your DQP know your delivery schedule.
You must keep records of your effort to be compliant by your required deadline according to NRAR's Compliance Approach and the proposed industry implementation schedule.
Block release update
WaterNSW today advised that with low volumes of water available and continued hot, dry conditions, the single block release for 2020/21
general security deliveries in the Gwydir Valley will be brought forward.
The revised dates for the block release from Copeton Dam are:
Releases will commence on Friday 26 November 2020, and
Releases will cease around 24 December 2020.
Orders must be placed prior to 18 December 2020 via iWAS or calling the helpdesk via 1300 662 077. For users West of Moree place your orders ASAP to help ensure effecient delivery.
Consultation open on future management FPH
As part of the NSW Government's commitment to regulating and measuring floodplain harvesting, changes to the Water Management (General)
Regulation 2018 to include floodplain harvesting requirements are being proposed.
The proposed changes aim to improve the management of floodplain harvesting across NSW and will:
- allow for floodplain harvesting licences to be issued,
- apply measurement requirements to floodplain harvesting, in line with NSW Government’s Floodplain Harvesting Measurement Policy
- establish a state-wide exemption for tailwater return drains
- ensure water users are confident in what can and cannot be taken from a floodplain prior to licenses being issued.
Irrigation efficiency research back on track
After not being able to plant our irrigation efficiency trial last season due to no water, it is great to now have crops in the ground for this season. The trial will include a look at the new surface drip system from Netafim, a new EnviroNode Farm Automation Controller on the Smart Siphons, the lateral system, the original bankless system and the new fully automated bankless system with Padman Stops auto winches.Read More
Connectivity between North and South MDB
The Darling River in the northern basin contributes on average about 14 per cent of the total flow in the River Murray (the southern basin)
at the point where the Darling enters the Murray.
In reality, most years do not deliver an average contribution from the Darling River. Averages mask extreme fluctuations in Darling flows, which are driven by the ephemeral and dynamic, boom and bust nature of rainfall in the northern Basin.
This means that major changes to inflows from the northern basin have only minor impacts on total Murray inflows. For example, DPIEW recently stated in an update to stakeholders that a 10% reduction in inflows from the Lower Darling would result in only a 1.4% reduction in total inflows to the River Murray.
The greatest influence on NSW allocations is the flow from the upper Murray catchments.
NSW government releases draft rules for floodplain harvesting licences
GVIA vice chair Jim Cush, who also farms in the NSW Border Rivers and the Namoi, is relieved the Healthy Floodplains project - established
to oversee the licencing - is nearing its end.
"It's been a long time coming, especially considering it started with the River Management Committee discussions that committed to licencing during the development of our first water sharing plan in the early 2000s," he said.
"The Department is finally getting its act together."
Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA) has welcomed the state government's commitment to moving forward with its management of overland flow with the release of draft accounting rules and floodplain licensing outcomes for the Border Rivers, the first of the five valley's.
Current Water Availability
NSW DPIE recently announced no further allocations for the Gwydir Valley. Total water available remains at 37,000 megalitres for
general security irrigation and 44 megalitres for environmental users after 5,000 megalitres of high security allocation was
transferred into their general security account. The essential supplies account is now 4,000 megalitres in deficit, which will need
to be addressed prior to any new allocations.
Water NSW announced that unless conditions improve a single block release for general security allocations will be scheduled for 7 December and continue for approximately 28 days. General security water will need to be stored on-farm as used as required.
(Photo: irrigated wheat prior to harvest, west Moree, NSW by Lou Gall).
Supplementary and bulk water delivery planning underway
Water NSW have reopened the bulk water delivery planning survey until 30 October 2020. Please take the time to complete this short survey to lodge an expression of interest (EOI) for any future supplementary events that occur this water year and to tell
WaterNSW about your regulated river water requirements for the season ahead including stock and domestic needs.
Do not complete this survey if you have already. They will collate the information to help determine water requirements for the upcoming season. With less than 37GL of water to deliver for irrigators, orders will be grouped together to limit losses and you will be required to take water in a block and store water on-farm, if you want to access it. We will also work with environmental water users to coordinate where possible.
Urgent and due by 30 October 2020.
Reminder of your logbook requirements
A reminder to members regarding their responsibilities for keep log books as part of the mandatory conditions for their licences, which can differ for Regulated, Unregulated and Groundwater users depending on the water source. It is best that water users are familiar with these conditions, which can be accessed via searching the NSW Water Register and selecting the first search option and either searching your WAL or you licence number (90AL). For more information visit our page.Read More
Current Water Availability update
Copeton Dam is at 16.3% capacity with all essential supplies reserved for two years. General security and environmental allocations
total 5.07% for the year with 38,000 megalitres available to irrigators and 39,000 megalitres available to environmental water users. This
does not include any allocation available as high security which is 13,000 megalitres for irrigators and 5,700 megalitres for environmental
WaterNSW are intending to operate via one bulk delivery for general security customers - please complete the survey or contact WaterNSW to ensure your needs are considered.
Metering Implementation Schedule
Industry has developed a 'Metering Implementation Schedule' to capture your farm information in relation to surface water, groundwater and
floodplain harvesting metering and measurement. Its purpose is two-fold and it is a priority for all water users that fall within the first
metering deadline of 1 December 2020 and who have eligible floodplain harvesting ROIs. The document will capture data to inform industry
progress, future timelines and existing measures in place to meter and measure take.
There are no other government systems in place to capture this information and it is important indsutry, government and the community can collect data to understand the progress made towards NSW new metering rules and the market challenges in meeting them. For this reason, we request you send the completed form back to your industry group for collation.
What is a gravity diversion and when does it need to be compliant?
Many farms in the Gwydir Valley have gravity components internally, however there are limited numbers of gravity diversions for the
purposes of accessing either regulated or unregulated water. You need to check your Works Approval via WaterNSW
register selecting A particular water licence or approval (including
you know your 90AL number OR A particular property
(in relation to water licences or approvals) to find your 90AL number using your Lot and DP.
Then see what has been listed there - if it says diversion channel you have until 1 December 2021 to ensure your meter meets the new metering rules. If not, you must meet the requirements for larger than 500mm pumps by this December or for smaller sites, 1 December 2021.
NOTING as per WSPs the metering installation can be located anywhere between the point of extraction and the first inlet/outlet locations.