Managing decline in groundwater levels

In February 2022 the NSW Department of Planning and Environment published reports on how groundwater levels have been changing since monitoring began in the 1970s-80s across 29 inland alluvial groundwater systems. Department hydrogeologists reviewed and analysed data from 1,300 groundwater monitoring sites.

They looked at how deep the groundwater levels fall during the summer irrigation season and the level to which they recover when the bore pumps are turned off during winter.

Groundwater levels have generally fluctuated within acceptable levels of decline and recovery. However in some localities, with concentrated areas of pumping, groundwater levels are not able to fully recover before the following irrigation season starts.

A short report (PDF, 483.31 KB) summarises the number of monitoring bores that groundwater levels fall below acceptable levels during the pumping season for all 29 groundwater sources reviewed. It also reports the number of monitoring bores in which water levels do not recovery sufficiently before the start of the next irrigation season.

There are also three detailed reports that focus on groundwater systems that have areas where groundwater levels are showing a long-term decline. These are for the Upper and Lower Namoi (PDF, 3557.11 KB), the Lower Gwydir (PDF, 2904.13 KB) and the Upper Lachlan (PDF, 3056.61 KB).

The reports provide background information for meetings held with community and groundwater licence holders in these areas in March 2022.

We held information sessions in Moree, Wee Waa, Gunnedah, Quirindi and Goolongong in March 2022. The presentation material for these meetings can be downloaded from the Water presentations library.

We invited stakeholders to provide feedback following the information sessions via email until 8th April 2022.

Based on what we heard, the department will do the following.

Upper Namoi Zone 12 and Upper Namoi Zone 8 groundwater sources

  • We will further consult with the stakeholders in the Upper Namoi Zone 12 groundwater source and the Upper Namoi Zone 8 groundwater source when we receive feedback from their own discussions on potential options to limit further decline in groundwater levels. Should the current good seasonal conditions change and the department observes groundwater levels are continuing to decline, the department will meet with the stakeholders to discuss management options.

Upper Lachlan Alluvial Groundwater Source

  • We will further consult with stakeholders in Management Zone 2 of the Upper Lachlan Alluvial Groundwater Source if the department observes further declines in groundwater levels in these areas.

Lower Namoi and Lower Gwydir groundwater sources

  • The groundwater trading assessment process in the Lower Gwydir and Lower Namoi groundwater sources did not change on 1 July 2022.
  • We plan to meet with stakeholders in the Lower Gwydir and Lower Namoi groundwater sources in September 2022 to undertake further consultation on what decisions the department may make to manage and limit groundwater level declines. Any change in the trade assessment processes will apply from the start of a water year, ie not before 1 July 2023.

Public information sessions

SourceDocumentsDetails Attend an event
Lower Gwydir Groundwater Source Presentation (PDF, 3774.42 KB)

Groundwater data package
Tuesday, 13 September 2022
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Moree Services Club,
3 Albert Street, Moree NSW 2400
Lower Namoi Groundwater Source Presentation (PDF, 3689.08 KB)

Groundwater data package
Wednesday, 14 September 2022
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Wee Waa Bowling Club,
60 Alma Street, Wee Waa NSW 2388

Please do not attend the meeting if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. To ensure we are COVID-19-safe, it is essential that each person planning to attend registers. If you are not registered, you may not be able to enter the information session.