Temporary water restrictions

Darling River in Bourke, New South Wales. Image courtesy of Destination NSW.

Summary of current temporary water restrictions

The tables below summarise current temporary water restrictions for regulated river, unregulated river and groundwater water sources.

You can find more information on a water source restriction by selecting the notice listed in the table.

You can also access information on expired or repealed temporary water restrictions in 2019/20.

Update: current North-west flows – March 2021

Current flows in the Barwon Darling – 8 April 2021

Following recent floods in QLD and NSW, significant flows have entered the Barwon Darling river system. We’re keeping a close watch on the flows as they proceed down the system.

We are pleased that the resumption of flow rule we put in place earlier this year has wet the system enough to maximise the benefits of the current event.

Given the amount of water on the floodplain, providing an accurate forecast into Menindee is difficult at this stage. For example, much of the flooding we’ve seen in the Gwydir valley will enter the Gwydir wetlands and not necessarily flow into Barwon Darling.

However, based on current forecast inflow volumes, there will potentially be between 100 and 300 GL of additional water available for use in Menindee or the Lower Darling.

We are watching the weather and flow forecasts closely and given the time that it takes for the water to move down the system we are taking this time to make well informed decisions.

Based on current flows seen upstream, it is possible that Lakes Pamamaroo and Wetherell will fill. However, the decision on how any water above that which is required to fill these upper lakes will depend on a range of factors including the total volume likely to reach the Lakes.

WaterNSW insights portal provides real time data that is readily accessible.

Why are there no temporary restrictions on access to current flows or floodplain harvesting in the North-West?

  1. The normal water sharing plan rules, including access to supplementary water, are operating.
  2. Temporary water restrictions can be imposed if it is in the public interest to do so.  Examples of this are to cope with water shortages, where there are threats to public health and safety or to protect flows for environmental purposes.
  3. There are currently no town water shortages nor critical environmental needs that require the protection of water for environmental purposes. Menindee Lakes is holding at least 12 months supply.
  4. Our rivers systems received good flows in the first few months of 2020 across the northern basin. These flows were protected to re-start the rivers and replenish aquatic habitats.  Some 670 gigalitres (GL) entered Menindee Lakes by June 2020.
  5. Rain in March 2021 is again providing good flows across the north-west and Barwon-Darling. Further inflows are expected into Menindee Lakes which will extend the current supply.
  6. Information on the temporary water restrictions and the reasons they were imposed in early 2020 is provided in the fact sheets below.  See North-west flows in early 2020 for the outcomes from these restrictions.

What is being done by the department to provide further protection to flows across the northern Basin and into Menindee Lakes after prolonged dry periods?

  • By 1 July 2021 – publish draft new triggers for critical environmental needs to be considered when imposing temporary restrictions.
  • By 1 July 2022 – publish draft new triggers for critical human needs to be considered when imposing temporary restrictions.
  • By 1 September 2021 – review the existing targets and develop a draft implementation program for the targets under the North-west Unregulated Flow Management Plan.
  • By 1 January 2022 – consult on the North-west Unregulated Flow Management Plan targets and their implementation.

What further work will form part of the Western Regional Water Strategy?

The draft Western Regional Water Strategy, which is due to be released towards the end of 2021, will include:

  • A proposed definition of connectivity.
  • Hydrological modelling to assess the extent to which the actions already undertaken to improve connectivity have been effective.
  • Additional connectivity options for discussion, such as proposed flow targets for the Menindee Lakes and/or at the confluence with the Murray River.
  • Initial results of modelling incorporating new climate data.

Fact sheets

Northern Basin and Barwon-Darling restrictions on river and overland flows

View all current temporary water restrictions

Temporary water restrictionStatus
Murray Unregulated River Water Sources – Murray below Mulwala Water Source (Thule and Tuppal creeks)
Extraction by unregulated river access licences holders to protect environmental water.
Current
Murray Unregulated River Water Sources - Murray below Mulwala Water Source (Buccaneit and Cunninyeuk creeks)
Extraction by unregulated river access licences holders to protect environmental water.
Current
Mortons Creek Water Source
General cease to pump restrictions for surface water – licence holders to record water take in a logbook for the duration of this Order.
Current
Upper Lachlan Alluvial (Groundwater) Management Zone 1
Restrict aquifer access licences to 30% of entitlement
Current
Botany Sands Groundwater Source
Taking of groundwater from two areas within the water source prohibited.
Current