Murray Unregulated River Water Sources – Murray below Mulwala Water Source (Thule and Tuppal creeks)

Temporary restriction notice Temporary Water Restriction (Tuppal Creek) Order 2020
Temporary Water Restriction (Thule Creek) Order 2020
Licences affected Unregulated river access licences
Date restriction started15 September 2020
Date restriction ends 30 June 2021
Status Current

Reason for Decision

Temporary Water Restriction (Tuppal Creek) Order 2020 (PDF 5.5 MB)

Temporary Water Restriction (Thule Creek) Order 2020 (PDF 5.5 MB)

Background

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment–Environment, Energy and Science group is planning to deliver held (licenced) environmental water from its NSW Murray entitlement in the form of a spring flow to the Thule and Tuppal creek systems within the Murray Below Mulwala Water Source as described in the Water Sharing Plan for the Murray Unregulated River Water Sources 2011.

The entitlement is from a regulated river (conveyance) access licence and is held by the Minister for the Environment.

A temporary water restriction has been made for each of those creek systems to ensure that environmental water delivered in these unregulated creeks is not extracted by licence holders. As such, those restrictions are in the public interest as they will manage water for environmental purposes.

Reasons for decisions

Section 324 of the Water Management Act 2000 allows the Minister or delegate to order that temporary water restrictions within a water source(s) are to have effect for a specified period, if these restrictions are determined to be in the public interest.

Examples of the public interest referred to in section 324(1) are “to cope with a water shortage, threat to public health or safety or to manage water for environmental purposes”.

It is in the public interest to make orders to restrict take in parts of the Thule and Tuppal creek systems within the Murray Below Mulwala Water Source in order to manage water for environmental purposes, for the following reasons:

  • The Thule Creek system has suffered from lack of flows since the millennium drought and many of the fringing Red Gum trees are in poor condition.
  • The Tuppal creek system has suffered from lack of flows since it was disconnected due to the construction of the Tocumwal levy.
  • The delivery of this held (licenced) environmental water to these systems aims to restore the health and condition of the River Red Gums fringing the Thule and Tuppal creeks and to provide habitat for native fish in both systems. Environmental flow in Thule Creek will also provide habitat for waterbirds including colonial nesting species.
  • In the absence of this environmental release, the natural river flows are currently insufficient to trigger lawful access by unregulated river access licence holders.  Without imposing a restriction under s 324, holders of unregulated river access licences which permit the take of water from the Thule or Tuppal creek systems will be able to legally take water from the held environmental water that is released.  If this were to occur, the benefits to the ecosystems described above would not eventuate. This outcome would not be in the public interest.

Accordingly, the section 324 orders are being made to protect the delivery of NSW Murray Conveyance Water as held environmental water in parts of the Thule and Tuppal creeks. The section 324 orders also includes the ability to lift orders, via responsive management. This means that access to water, by holders of unregulated access licences, will be allowed in the event of natural flows occurring following rainfall.

Emma Solomon

Executive Director, Water Policy, Planning and Sciences

11 September 2020