Floodplain Harvesting licence rules in the water sharing plans for NSW Border Rivers

The draft rules for floodplain harvesting licences to be included in water sharing plans within the Border Rivers Valley were released for comment through public exhibition commencing on 20 October 2020. Public exhibition ran from 20 October until 30 November 2020.

Download high resolution diagram–Border Rivers timeline

Past consultation sessions

The department held a public webinar, face-to-face public meetings in the NSW Border Rivers area, and a series of targeted consultation events with specific stakeholder groups. All stakeholders were provided with information about the implementation of the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy and proposed water sharing rules for floodplain harvesting licenses in the NSW Border Rivers.

Report to assist community consultation

More information regarding the draft rules can be found in the Report to assist with community consultation (PDF 1.1 MB).

Please note this report was updated on 20 October 2020 due to an error in Table 7.

Floodplain harvesting access licenses to be included in NSW Border Rivers water sharing plans

Floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licenses will be issued to eligible landholders within the NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source, requiring rules for these licenses to be included in the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source.

Please note, no floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences will be issued in the NSW Border Rivers Unregulated River Water Sources, and therefore no rules are required to be included in the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Border Rivers Unregulated River Water Sources 2012.

Summary of draft rules for floodplain harvesting in NSW Border Rivers water sharing plan

A summary of the proposed rules for floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licences in the Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source is provided below. Feedback on the draft rules was sought through a public submission process that ran from 20 October 2020 until 30 November 2020.

Type of rule Proposed rule for floodplain harvesting

Account management

Account limit: Maximum of 5 ML per unit share at any time

Carryover: Unlimited, subject to the account limit

Available water determination

Initial available water determination of 5 ML per unit share, or

Initial available water determination of 1 ML per unit share, or a lesser amount to ensure compliance with the extraction limit.

Available water determination of 1 ML per unit share every year after that, subject to increases or decreases to respond to growth or improved accuracy in calculating the extraction limit

Permanent trade

No nomination of works located in a trading zone that reflects management zones A and D established under the Floodplain Management Plan for the Border Rivers Valley Floodplain 2020 by a floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licence

Access rules

Restriction, where appropriate, to contribute to meeting flow targets in the Barwon-Darling Unregulated River Water Source.

Restriction may be applied through a section 324 order if:

  • there is uncontrolled flow in one or more   sections of the river, and
  • restrictions are placed on supplementary water   access licences to contribute to meeting the flow targets in the   Barwon-Darling

Protection of environmental flows

No rules proposed specifically for floodplain harvesting


More information regarding the draft rules can be found in the Report to assist with community consultation (PDF 1.1 MB) document.

Reports

If you require assistance in reading these documents, please contact +61 2 9338 6600 or water.relations@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Report to assist community consultation

The NSW Border Rivers: Floodplain harvesting in water sharing plans–Report to assist community consultation report aims to assist the community in understanding the proposed types of rules for floodplain harvesting access licences in the NSW Border Rivers. It also provides a summary of the other four technical reports and explains the interaction between the rules, modelling and the expected environmental benefits once they are put in place.

Modelling reports

The NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy sets out a framework for bringing floodplain harvesting into a licensing framework to manage diversions within legal limits The policy requires that individual entitlements in regulated rivers systems will be informed by a capability assessment that considers the works used for floodplain harvesting and the opportunity to access floodplain flows based on location and climatic variability. This capability assessment is undertaken through river system models.

The department has developed two reports to describe how this work has been completed. Firstly, Building the river system model for the Border Rivers Valley regulated river system describes the development of the Border Rivers valley river system model – its conceptualisation, construction and calibration. The model was developed using multiple lines of evidence and best available industry data. The report provides evidence and assessments to demonstrate that the model has made the best use of available data and methods for implementation of the policy.

Secondly, Floodplain Harvesting Entitlements for NSW Border Rivers Regulated River System: Model Scenarios Report, describes how the Source Model of the Border Rivers was used to estimate the Basin Diversion Limit, and to subsequently estimate individual floodplain harvesting entitlements.

Environmental outcomes report

Harvesting of water from floodplains reduces the volume, frequency and duration of floods and can change the timing of flood events, impacting on the health of floodplains and downstream waterways. To manage unconstrained harvesting, the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy will bring floodplain harvesting under a licensing framework to provide a more sustainable level of water diversions from the floodplain.

Hydrological metrics needed to meet recruitment and maintenance needs of native fish, floodplain native vegetation, waterbirds, key ecosystem functions and wetlands were modelled for two scenarios. Implementation of the policy is predicted to improve the number of flow days, frequency and timing of floods for native fish, waterbirds and floodplain vegetation.

Environmental outcomes of implementing the Floodplain Harvesting Policy: Border Rivers report provides a detailed assessment of the likely benefits or disadvantages for the environment of implementing the policy in the NSW Border Rivers Valley.

Downstream effects reports

The NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy establishes a framework for licensing floodplain harvesting activities and managing floodplain diversions in a way that brings them back within statutory limits. The licencing framework will restrict the volume of water that can be taken from the floodplain providing gains to the system through foregone diversion.

Any gains in upstream systems such as the NSW Border Rivers will translate into the downstream with additional volumes originating in each of the Barwon-Darling tributary valleys contributing to connectivity between the broader northern basin system and provision of increased flows towards Menindee and into the Murray.

Modelled downstream effects of licensing floodplain harvesting in the NSW Border Rivers Valley report quantifies the potential downstream impacts of these increased flows. Subsequent reports will be made available in early 2021 that catalogue the impact of Policy implementation in the other Valleys. Each Valley will be looked at individually with additional analysis of the cumulative impact of licensing floodplain harvesting across the entire northern basin.

Independent peer review

The modelling reports for the Border Rivers valley has been independently peer-reviewed.

Compliance with water management principles

This document details how the department has complied with the water management principles outlined in the Water Management Act 2000 in the development of the Water Sharing Plan for the Border Rivers Regulated River Water Source 2020.

What we heard

This report summarises the feedback the NSW Government received during the public consultation sessions and from written submissions for the NSW Border Rivers.

Rainfall Runoff Exemption Supplementary report

The proposed rainfall run-off exemption has the potential to impact floodplain harvesting modelling in the NSW Border Rivers valley. The department has proposed a regulation to exempt rainfall run-off that is collected in a tailwater return drain from requiring a water access licence and a water supply works approval. The successful commencement of this exemption will impact floodplain harvesting modelling in the NSW Border Rivers valley. This report clarifies the scale of this potential impact on licence shares, the environment, and downstream outcomes.