NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy
There has been growth in floodplain harvesting across many parts of the NSW northern basin that has caused an increase in water diversions above legal limits set under Water Sharing Plans and the Basin Plan.
This growth needs to be offset in order to comply with Water Sharing Plans and Basin Plan limits.
In 2013, the NSW Government introduced the Floodplain Harvesting Policy to stop unconstrained floodplain harvesting by bringing it into a licensing framework. Implementing the Policy will function to restrict current floodplain diversions so that they return to statutory limits. The policy is currently being implemented in the designated floodplains of the five northern NSW valleys.
Download and read the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy.
Floodplain harvesting licences and approvals for all five northern basin valleys are scheduled to be in place by July 2021.
Implementing the Floodplain Harvesting Policy
Changes made to the policy in 2018
The policy changes reflect lessons learnt during the initial implementation. They incorporate feedback from all stakeholders made as part of a formal submission process in March to April 2018. The policy now:
- allows a valley to manage growth in use by applying an overall plan limit or splitting the limit into floodplain harvesting and non-floodplain harvesting components
- clarifies that ‘floodplain harvesting’ includes the capture of rainfall run-off
- provides for a rigorous, staged approach to improving monitoring of floodplain harvesting
- allows the development of valley-specific account management rules.
Key benefits of the changes
Licensing rainfall runoff from irrigation areas when other floodplain harvesting water is being taken will provide state-wide equity for this form of take. It will also enable floodplain harvesting regulatory reforms, such as measurement, to be implemented effectively and practically - watch the management of rainfall runoff from irrigation areas video below: