Gwydir River

Gwydir River 
Drought Stage

Stage 1 - Normal management

Stage 1 normal operations. De-escalated from Stage 2 recovering in mid-January 2021, previously de-escalate from  Stage 3 severe on 23 March 2020.

Storage Level
  • Copeton Dam at 41% (563 GL) of active capacity compared to 10% (120 GL) on 1 July 2019.
Allocations
  • Zero general security allocations announced on 1 July 2020 but a small 1.7% announced in August 2020, and progressively increased to 15.68% in February 2021 and then 54.8% in April 2021.
  • Zero allocations for general security for most of 2019/20, but all carryover water available. Small 1.9% general security allocation announced on 7 May 2020 and 2.7% on 5 June 2020.
  • Last general security allocation made (prior to August 2020) was in August 2017.
  • Full high priority and high security allocations for 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Actions
  • Environmental releases (from Commonwealth and NSW held water) were made in April 2018 (18.9 GL) and April 2019 (26 GL) to provide flows along the Lower Gwydir and Mehi system into the Barwon-Darling as part of the Northern Connectivity and the Northern Fish Flow events.
  • A further small environmental release was made in late December 2020 of 5.1 GL of Commonwealth water to provide flows along the Gwydir and into the Barwon-Darling as part of the Northern Waterholes Top Up event.
  • Environmental releases from October 2019 to January 2020 to improve quality of fish refuge pools along the Gwydir.
  • Delivery of water in 2019/20 occurred in block releases to conserve supplies.
  • A block release commenced in late November 2020  but ceased in late December as downstream tributary inflows were sufficient to meet orders.
  • Dam wall debiting applied to general security and environmental orders from November 2019 and into 2020.
  • Restrictions on access across the Northern Basin in January/February 2020 to protect flows for critical needs. These ended 28 February, but access for high security and some general security was permitted from run of river flows during the period.
  • Some supplementary access has been permitted.
Issues
  • Fish deaths in late January/early February 2020 near Moree and Bingara as a result of short sharp rise in river flows from localised storms.
Outlook
  • Copeton Dam is receiving good inflows and large flows were occurring downstream and spilling across the floodplain in March 2021.