Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Water allocations slashed for Gwydir and Border rivers

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has today advised that supplementary water allocations for the Gwydir and Border Rivers are likely to see reduced allocations commencing in the 2021-22 water year.

It said results from modelling published under the healthy floodplains program showed that the Border Rivers and Gwydir regulated rivers have exceeded the long-term average annual extraction limit (LTAAEL) and that compliance action was required.

“As part of obligations under NSW water sharing plans (WSPs) and commitments under the Basin Plan, access to water must remain within a legal limit as outlined in the specific WSP for each valley. This includes compliance with the LTAAEL,” the Department said in a statement.

“As outlined in the allocation statements, Gwydir’s supplementary allocation will be reduced for next year’s Available Water Determination to 50% (0.5ML/unit share) and the Border Rivers supplementary allocation will be reduced to 75% (0.75ML/unit share).”

The reduced supplementary allocation means that the maximum volume of water allowed to be taken from supplementary events over the whole year by relevant license holders will be reduced.

“Supplementary events are declared when flows exceed the requirements set out in WSPs and typically when all other requirements have been met. For example a heavy storm event which increases water flow and cannot be captured or stored by public infrastructure,” it said.

“The plans set out the rules about when a supplementary event can occur.

“The reduction may not have any impact on licence holders in years when there are few supplementary flow events declared.”

The department said assessment of LTAAEL compliance would be revised after floodplain harvesting licensing commences.

“Once this occurs, it is likely the Border Rivers and Gwydir regulated rivers supplementary water allocations can be increased.”

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