Successful Barwon-Darling water restrictions finish at midnight

Media release | 22 June 2018

Impromptu cricket matches have been suspended on the Darling River bed near Tilpa after the successful release of environmental water, backed for the first time by temporary water restrictions that finish at midnight tonight.

Chief Regulatory Officer of the NSW Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) Grant Barnes said he was pleased to report the previously dry river bed, put to use as a cricket pitch by locals near Tilpa in April, was now flowing with water.

“The release of environmental water in mid-April has exceeded expectations re-connecting the river systems of the Northern Basin over a 2000km journey, starting from storages in the Gwydir and Borders rivers in April and now reaching the Menindee Lakes.

“The environmental release was backed by temporary water restrictions imposed by the NSW Government as no flow conditions were observed at multiple locations including Bourke, Louth and Wilcannia, with water in pools and weirs depleting rapidly.

“I visited various locations along the river to witness the environmental flows and to see the impact on local communities and the environment first-hand. There is a real sense of excitement and I’m pleased the temporary embargo has been able to ensure the water keeps flowing down the river to the areas that need it.

“The water restrictions are finishing as flows have peaked at Wilcannia and are now receding to below the levels permitted for irrigating. Stock and domestic take is still available below Wilcannia, while environmental water makes its way to Lake Wetherell,” Mr Barnes said.

The flow has provided environmental benefits for fish and riverbank vegetation, improving water quality and providing social benefits for communities, and is now refreshing the deep waterholes in Lake Wetherell which provide refuge for native fish and plants.

Jody Swirepik from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder said irrigator support for this event, from the Gwydir and Border Rivers catchments, particularly from those who withheld pumping in support of the temporary restriction order, has been very important.

“Without that support, it is unlikely we would have seen such strong flows at Bourke, Louth, Tilpa and Wilcannia.

“Thanks to the support and efforts of the NSW Government agencies and our colleagues in the Murray Darling Basin Authority we have made a real difference for the environment and for communities along these river systems,” Ms Swirepik said.

Learn more about the environmental release: http://environment.gov.au/water/cewo/publications/connecting-northern-rivers