First flows to be secured for critical needs

Media release | 17 January 2020

In anticipation of high rainfall in some parts of NSW over the coming days the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has put in place a restriction order to protect flows for critical needs in the northern basin.

The restriction will apply to commercial water users in the northern inland river systems, excluding those Macquarie and Gwydir regulated rivers with high security account water where delivery of orders has been accepted. The restrictions will apply from 17 January until 31 January 2020.

The restriction does not apply to any existing orders made for releases from storages.

Acting Executive Director of Water Policy, Planning and Sciences, Beth Overton said around 50 to 80 millimetres of rain has been predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology for some areas over the next few days.

“We are acting to protect any flows generated by rain to ensure we can meet our first objective of securing critical local water supplies and potentially improving connectivity through the river system,” she said. Access to the flows for town water, domestic and stock supply and basic landholder rights is permitted.

“While it is impossible to predict where or how large any flows will be, it’s hoped they might improve some town water supplies, put more water in the system for stock and domestic supply, and replenish some critical refuge pools for fish.

“We acknowledge there has not been an opportunity for irrigators to access water from these systems for some time, but we need to protect this first flow to help replenish drought impacted rivers.”

Ms Overton said the quality of runoff is likely to be poor due to the impacts resulting from extended drought and bushfires, and any inflows may impact water quality and cause some localised fish deaths.

“WaterNSW will constantly monitor any rainfall and advise the department if there are any flows resulting from these rain events that may warrant lifting of the restriction prior to 31 January,” she said.

“We will also work closely with the Department of Primary Industries Fisheries team who are continuing to monitor river conditions and fish health.”

WaterNSW will advise customers as soon as the temporary restrictions can be lifted in their area. Licence holders are encouraged to ensure that WaterNSW has their contact information.

In the event of fish deaths, landholders and the public are asked to call Fishers Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536.