Bega

Key catchment Bega

The Bega catchment is located on the far south coast of New South Wales. Bega has a catchment area of 2,850 square kilometres.

Major towns

Bega and Bermagui.

Rivers and tributaries

The Bega River starts at the confluence of the Bemboka River and the smaller Tantawangalo Creek. The Bega River has two major arms that meet 20 kilometres upstream from the mouth of the river: the Bega-Bemboka arm and the Brogo River arm with a further 120 square kilometres below the junction. The Brogo River joins the Bega River just downstream of the township of Bega.

In addition to the Bega and Brogo catchments, the 'greater Bega Basin' includes some significant coastal systems - Narira Creek and Dignams Creek, which flow into Wallaga Lake, and the Dry/Murrah River system.

Real-time flow data

The department monitors the condition of river systems in NSW and provides regular updates on water levels, rainfall, water temperature and electrical conductivity.

View real-time data from the Bega catchment on this website.

Major water storage

The Bega River is regulated downstream of Brogo Dam, but the rest of the catchment is unregulated.

Major water users

Most irrigation water licences are used for dairy farming. There are 96 dairy farms and 25,000 dairy cows in the catchment. Other water users include the Bega Valley Shire Council, cheese production, forestry, cattle grazing and oyster farmers.

Key water management issues

Except for Brogo Dam, most water users rely on natural flows or small structures, such as weirs, for water supplies. As in most unregulated rivers, flows are mostly affected during relatively dry times, when water is low and demand high.

In recent years, the Bega Valley has experienced severe drought, which has reduced the volume of water available to licence holders and affected the health of the riverine environment. Sharing limited volumes of water fairly between competing users, such as local councils, farmers and the environment, is a key management issue during times of drought.

The management of lands along river and creek banks is another important issue that can affect water flow and quality. For example, cattle grazing can damage sensitive riverbank vegetation resulting in erosion, and forestry can reduce rainfall runoff into rivers, creeks and streams.

Environmental values

No threatened fish species listed under NSW legislation occur in the Bega valley. One threatened fish species, the Australian grayling, is listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999.

The Bega River estuary is a key environmental asset within the Bega valley.

Water sharing plans

To preserve water resources in river and groundwater systems for the long term it is critical to balance the competing needs of the environment and water users. Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water between the environmental needs of the river or aquifer and water users, and also between different types of water use such as town supply, rural domestic supply, stock watering, industry and irrigation.

Water sharing plan in this catchment:

  • Bega and Brogo Rivers Area Regulated, Unregulated and Alluvial

Visit Water Sharing Plans for a status update.

Under the Water Management Act 2000 all water sharing plans are required to have performance indicators to assess whether the plans have been effective in meeting their objectives. The Environmental flow response and socio-economic monitoring. South Coast - progress report 2010 (PDF, 4362.87 KB) summarises activities undertaken in the previous water year and provides an interim assessment of outcomes from the investigations.