Temporary Water Restriction order partially lifted

Media release | 21 February 2020

The NSW Government has announced the lifting of Temporary Water Restriction Orders in some parts of the Northern Basin, as targets and critical needs are now expected to be met.

As a result of the pumping and floodplain harvesting restrictions in the Northern Basin, the long-awaited flows to the northern parts of NSW are now expected to meet critical needs along the full length of the Barwon-Darling River, and the target of 60-70 gigalitres in Lake Wetherell. This will enable a connectivity event to the end of the Lower Darling River.

Emma Solomon, Executive Director, Planning Policy and Sciences, Water Group, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, said that the department has been closely monitoring the flows and the forecasts.

“I’m really pleased that substantial flows have made its way downstream, as a result of the rainfall and the embargoes that we put in place to protect those flows.

“The recent sustained rainfall and flows in the northern Murray-Darling Basin, including from the Namoi and other northern tributaries, have seen flows down the Barwon River all the way to Brewarrina and Bourke, providing critical relief to communities along the way.

“The flow is now forecast to reach Wilcannia and Menindee and flow into Lake Wetherell.

“Access has been given to some upstream parts of the northern river valleys, as those flows are no longer required to meet target volumes along the Barwon-Darling and in Lake Wetherell,” she said.

Restrictions still apply in the Barwon Darling water source and other tributaries which are contributing to the target volumes.

“The embargo has meant that for the first time in years we will have a connectivity event, and this is in the midst of the worst drought on record,” Ms Solomon said.

Towns to benefit from the embargo include Mungindi and Collarenebri which were facing less than three months of water but is considering reviewing Level 4 water restrictions.

Walgett had no access to surface water and been relying on bores for more than a year. It now has a full weir pool that will allow Council to review the source of its drinking water supply and water restrictions.

Brewarrina had experienced water quality issues due to low levels in the town water supply weir which will be improved as the weir is now full.

The flows are expected to refill the town water supply weir in Bourke, Wilcannia, Menindee, Sunset Strip and Pooncarie, with many of these towns now able to access improved drinking water.

Further details about the temporary water restrictions is available on the department’s website: https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/allocations-availability/temporary-water-restrictions

Details about water flows can be found on WaterNSW website: https://www.waternsw.com.au/supply/regional-nsw/operations-updates