Working together to achieve positive outcomes

Pink eared ducks in the Macquarie Marsh. Image courtesy of Nicola Brookhouse, DPIE.

Outcomes from managing and releasing water for the environment

NSW and Commonwealth partner agencies are working together to deliver water for the environment when and where it’s required to achieve the best possible outcomes.

We have been able to achieve many positive ecological outcomes for our rivers, floodplains, plants and animals even during drought. This includes maintaining drought refuges to avoid loss of vital populations of native plants and animals.

The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) has seen a marked improvement in overall environmental health since the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in 2012. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s website provides information on how releases of water for the environment have combined with variable natural rainfall and river flows to improve the health of the Basin waterways over the last decade.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) celebrated 10 years of delivering water for the environment in the MDB in 2018. Download a flyer which showcases some of these achievements and view how the CEWO has used their water in each catchment and what that water for the environment has achieved.

Recently the CEWO has driven environmental outcomes in NSW even during severe drought. In 2018 after Northern NSW rivers stopped flowing, environmental water was managed and released through the Northern Connectivity Event to provide opportunities for native fish and waterbirds to feed and breed, plants to grow and set seed, and floodplains to release essential nutrients into the food chain.

For more information on the Northern Connectivity Event:

  • Independent Observer Report – Northern Connectivity Event – This report was commissioned to assess how government agencies and operators managed this environmental flow through the system. Monitoring and evaluation insights are included in the report.
  • Northern Connectivity Event Updates – Read updates and a final report on the outcomes of the Northern Connectivity Event by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.
  • MDBA Review of compliance – Northern connectivity Event – The Murray-Darling Basin Authority undertook a review of the Northern Connectivity Event to assess the effectiveness of the governance and management arrangements in place, and operational activities, processes and procedures implemented to ensure compliance with the temporary water restriction rules.
  • Use of water for the environment in NSW: Outcomes 2017-18 – the department’s Environment, Energy and Science division’s report provides a summary of the ecological outcomes achieved across NSW in 2017-18, including the Northern Connectivity Event.

Additional Northern MDB unregulated flow events were protected in early 2018 through the use of a temporary water restriction under s. 324 of the Water Management Act 2000. Protection of this flow event benefited town water supplies, communities and the environment. Read about the outcomes of the March-April 2018 s. 324 Event.

Without any further significant rainfall in 2018, assistance was required to help plants and animals survive the drought in the northern MDB. State and Commonwealth governments collaborated to provide water for the environment through the Northern Fish Flow Event in 2019 releasing 36.0 GL of water from held environmental water reserves.

The Northern Fish Flow supported the health of the Dumaresq, Macintyre, Mehi and Barwon river systems, improving water quality, longitudinal river connectivity and survival rates of native fish along 1,500 km of the river system, some 500 kms further than originally anticipated. Read about the outcomes of the Northern Fish Flow event.

In the southern Murray-Darling Basin planning and collaboration across State and Commonwealth agencies made a 2019 Southern Spring Flow possible. CEWO published regular updates of the Southern Spring Flow 2019.

The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) plays a key role in the success of these environmental watering events. In NSW NRAR officers monitor compliance with any pumping restrictions in place during an event, ensuring that water for the environment is protected.