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Metering |

Here is our first reminder regarding the first deadline for the NSW Non-urban water metering reform for larger than 500mm surface water pump installation is quickly arriving, with all works finalised by 1 December 2020.

It is important that everyone assess using the NSW Government's  Metering Tool whether you are required to have your surface water metering work checked and validated or a replacement meter installed with telemetry by this date.   All water users must assess their obligations and MAKE DUE EFFORT to meet these obligations in the required timeframe.

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NSW DPIEW announced a 1.7% allocation to General Security and environmental water holders for the end of July 2020.  This brings total available water to General Security water users to 22,000ML with environmental water holders having 34,000 ML, not including high security water.  Copeton Dam is holding 14.7% capacity with essential supplies secured for two-years.

This means now every 1% that Copeton Dam increases by can equate to an estimated 1.89% allocation for General Security and environmental water holders.

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The NSW Government released the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Measurement Policy 2020. This announcement provides one of the missing pieces to understand how NSW plan to manage this access under a licencing regime, which is due for implementation by 1 July next year in the Gwydir Valley. We e have been calling on the policy for some time, so that water users have due time to meet their obligations.
“The policy is an ambitious program but an important step forward in water management that our local industry has been committed for a long time to achieve.”
Photo: Storage device already installed on an empty storage, waiting for the drought to break.

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Smarter Irrigation for Profit Phase II is a partnership between the irrigation industry, research organisations and farmer groups, the objective of which is to improve the profit of over 4,000 cotton, dairy, rice, grains and sugar irrigators. There are 14 sub projects including: New irrigation technologies such as new sensors, advanced analytics to improve irrigation scheduling and strategies to reduce water storage evaporation. Cost effective, practical automated irrigation systems and a network of 36 farmer led optimised irrigation sites such as Keytah here in the Gwydir. We have just launched our new web page for of videos and project information. .  

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The Feral Pig monitoring program supported by the NSW Government and the NW LLS is drawing to a close. We have conducted a range of monitoring and management activities including collaring and tagging pigs, trapping and shooting.  As we move into our winter cropping season pig damage will become more evident, especially as many pregnant sows have been observed. The GVIA can provide support to local landholders who participate in group control activities and would appreciate information on crop damage caused by feral pigs. Please contact us for more information. 

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NSW Department has announced the starting allocations for water users for the new water year 2020-2021 with all water users (Stock and Domestic, Towns, High Security, Supplementary and Unregulated  in the surface water systems and Groundwater) receiving 100% except General Security users.  General Security water users have access to ongoing carryover water of 12GL for water users  and 31GL for environmental water holders via the NSW DPIE-W.

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The NSW Government has appointed an independent panel to assess what improvements can be made to better manage the use, communication and application of temporary restrictions like those used in February 2020.   These restrictions were used to manage the first major water flows following rainfall across the northern Murray-Darling after record drought conditions.

The panel is now seeking feedback from the community on their views and experiences in relation to the first flush event and suggestions on the future management of these events. They invite you to make a submission or give your feedback by completing the survey available on the review website.  

The GVIA will be providing our own feedback via this survey, and we encourage members and all stakeholders affected by these events, to directly provide their own individual experiences and feedback to the panel.   

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DPIE-W announced the Gwydir Valley received it’s first allocation since February 2018 with 1.9% allocation (or 10.56GL) issued to water users including the environment.  Inflows into Copeton Dam since February this year are greater than 60% of the total inflows into the dam over the last 2.5 years. 

The allocation announcement together with a full reserve essential supplies reserve (for two years) in Copeton Dam and recent supplementary availability below the dam, signals for the first-time in years that the whole catchment has a good soil moisture and any rain should generate flows into our river systems.  Whilst the drought hasn’t broken, it’s a good start for water users and the region.       

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In a world first, the government is using LiDAR to construct images to estimate the volume of floodplain harvesting captured in private water storages in the Northern Basin valleys as reported in The Land last week.  The article said "There is a combined capacity of 1450 gigalitres within 1386 private on-farm storages across the Northern Basin, which are filled infrequently and only during wet periods." and Minister for Water, Ms Pavey said "...the department is able to determine both the capacity and volume held in private on-farm storages with much greater accuracy....Using this technology, we were able to assess the volume of floodplain harvesting was around 20GL during this time [the temporary restriction in February 2020]. Now, over 380GL has made it to the Menindee Lakes, reconnecting the Lower Darling to the Murray River for the first time since 2016," she said. 
We think it's important that the NSW Government release results like this, to build confidence and show their significant investment in FPH monitoring and compliance. As we know, floodplain harvesting opportunity arises in a flood, when there is plenty of water available for everyone.  These results demonstrates this fact, with take only 5% of the total flow measured at Menindee Lakes, more than 1000km of river channel and floodplain downstream, with no impact to the achievement of the targets for critical needs required at the time.

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As the current season is drawing to a close and winter planting is getting underway, the Smarter Irrigation for Profit researchers are looking to see  what you want to know more about with regards irrigation. We have developed a 4 question survey and would love your input. 
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SIP2_Webinar

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With recent catchment rainfall, water availability has improved across the catchment with inflows into Copeton Dam as well as approximately 10% Supplementary allocation available from inflows below the Dam.  The region has moved down to Stage 2 for Drought Management, due to the forecast of 2-years supply of all essential water requirements including towns.  A small deficit for General Security delivery remains and must be addressed prior to any new allocations.

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NSW Government has released the draft Terms of Reference into their Independent Assessment into the First Flush in the northern basin -  the management and communication of  temporary restrictions implemented in February 2020 to achieve flow outcomes within the valley and downstream in the Barwon-Darling. There is an opportunity to provide input into the review via a multi-step submission process, starting with the Terms of Reference. The GVIA will be working on suggestions to improve the terms including ensuring the panel has relevant technical input into the effectiveness of the event by considering northern basin hydrology and flows.

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This statement is provided as a response to concerns raised due to misinformation regarding northern embargoes and floodplain harvesting.
Our organisation supports the need for a first flush to provide flow for critical human needs.  We also are on record requesting greater transparency around the decision to utilise, amend and remove temporary pumping restrictions in NSW.  This process must be undertaken with a clear methodology, based on fact and science and communicated communities both up and downstream. 

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On the back of last week’s bureaucratic bungling, Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association are warning that the lack of responsiveness by government and transparent processes are sacrificing our farmers and wasting precious water.

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Once again this week our farmers have been crucified on the back of bureaucratic bungling. On late Friday afternoon, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's Water division applied an embargo for the first time on overland flow via a text message.  Whilst the sentiment of this decision to protect flows for critical human needs is supported by northern communities, it is the level of disregard for how a natural system behaves during extreme weather events such as a flood and the lack of consultation about rule changes that has farmers fuming. 

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Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association together with Namoi Water have provided the following statement regarding the current management of river flows and localised flooding in parts of our valleys.  This statement will be progressively updated as more information becomes available.
 
There is no question that we and our communities support the importance of connectivity flows in drought. We fully support flows to provide critical human needs.

 

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NSW DPIEW informed users via the EWN that they have lifted temporary water restrictions on unregulated water users in the Mehi subcatchment (until 17 February 2020), this adds to the lifting of restrictions in the Millie and Thalaba sub-catchments in the south-western section of Gwydir Valley.  Restrictions to floodplain harvesting activities in the Mehi and Thalaba sub catchments have also been lifted. These expire on 12th February 2020. 
Reasons for the decision are stated as being: over the last 2 days there has been in excess of 150mm of rain in lower Gwydir. Flows in the Mehi River are at 4000ML/day and 4,500ML/day in Moomin. Flows in the Barwon Darling are at 9000ML day at Collarenabri and 5000ML day at Tara. Flows from the Mehi are backing up due to high flows in the Barwon Darling.
Most flow targets have been met, and is now expected that targets at Brewarrina, and possibly Bourke, will also be met.
The main intent of lifting this order to minimise flood impacts, and allow farmers to move water around their property.   

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Water NSW have expanded their Early Warning Network to manage notifications for temporary restrictions to pumping conditions (in addition to dam safety and flood notifications).  It is recommended all water users subscribe to this process to be sent an email and SMS on any announcements from Water NSW regarding access arrangements. 

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DPIEW have lifted the restrictions to unregulated licence access in the Thalaba and Millie Creek Subcatchments as of 9:53pm tonight.  This is because of high rainfall in the lower part of the Gwydir valley has resulted in the public interest test being met for these water sources, and unregulated take from the above water sources will not materially impact on downstream flows in the Barwon Darling.
To receive updates on temporary restrictions, you must register for the Early Warning Network here.
Contact the office for more information.

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The NSW Government has enacted a temporary restriction on floodplain harvesting across the northern basin to preserve any flows in the northern river system for towns, stock and domestic supply and the environment. This temporary restriction order will apply to the take of water for the purpose of floodplain harvesting, except in the case where the take of water is rainfall runoff from irrigated areas with tailwater return drains or water cannot be reasonably prevented i.e. it is passive take.  You will need to refer to the exemption details via the Department's website.  We will forward any further information when it becomes available. 

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Following months (and months) of requests from groups like ourselves, our local council and chamber of commerce for support for our farm related businesses, the Australian Government through the Regional Investment Corporation has announced and opened the AgBiz Drought loans which aims to support regional Australians to take control of their business through the drought.  There are conditions and eligibility requirements for the loan.  For more information visit the RIC website.  Thank you to our local members who advocated for broadening drought support from the farm gate.

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Please be aware DPIE have issues a Section 324 water restriction under the NSW Water Management Act in anticipation of potential natural inflows into the regions water systems this is for unregulated, general security and supplementary licences.  Details are to be provided on the DPIE website.  This order does not include current water orders in the system and high security deliveries.  Exemptions to test metering equipment are expected to exist and procedures must be followed as per the gazette.

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The GVIA were excited to help coordinate and host two year 12 students in Moree as part of the University of New England's Growing Regional and Agricultural Students in Science (UNE GRASS) program. They have been getting their hands dirty these school holidays, learning about all facets of the cotton industry directly from those involved in all areas. Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School student Harry Page from Goondiwindi and Calrossy Anglican School student Matt Tomlinson from Bellata have spent the past week in the Gwydir Valley, gaining a broad exposure to the possible career opportunities in the Australian cotton industry.

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With the anticipation of rain forecast by the BOM, its important that water users are aware of the conditions around water access in the event we receive river system inflows.  There are currently deliveries within the system that would need to be satisfied, as with the provision of stock and domestic and basic landholder right flows to systems that have not received any substantial flows to-date.  To ensure you are up to date, please check the Department of Industry website for any temporary restrictions.
We note that previous restrictions have made allowances to test metering equipment for a limited volume of no more than 1ML provided the duly qualified person, undertaking the testing informs NRAR.  This information will be available on the Government Gazette if a restriction is put in place.  

Making Every Drop Count

Securing a future for the Gwydir Valley through Irrigated Agriculture.