Floodplain Harvesting licence rules in the water sharing plan for the Macquarie valley

Implementation dates for the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy have changed following disallowance of amendments to the Water Management (General) Regulation 2018 in 2020, 2021 and 2022, that defined the process for issuing floodplain harvesting licences and the measurement requirements on those licences. More recently, there was a disallowance of Water Management (General) Amendment (Floodplain Harvesting Access Licences) Regulation 2022 that defined the process for issuing floodplain harvesting licences on 21 September 2022. The amendments to the regulation defining measurement requirements for licences was not part of the disallowance on 21 September 2022.

The disallowance does not alter the validity of floodplain harvesting licences already determined for eligible water users in the NSW Border Rivers and Gwydir Valleys. The licensing framework commenced in these valleys on 15 August 2022 and this latest disallowance has no effect on the requirements to measure and manage floodplain harvesting in these valley.

The department is committed to this important reform to ensure limits on take and measurement requirements, for floodplain harvesting in all Northern Basin valleys. Licensing will bring floodplain harvesting into line with other forms of take, enabling monitoring and management and providing certainty in the provision of water required for the environment and other water users.

About the plan

The rules for floodplain harvesting licences were included in the water sharing plan for the Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated River Water Source on 29 July 2022. Read the summary of the rules (PDF, 284.55 KB).

Timeline

Download a larger version–Macquarie Valley timeline

Past consultation sessions

The department held a public webinar, face-to-face public meetings in the Macquarie valley 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 water sharing rules for floodplain harvesting licenses in the Macquarie valley.

Technical reports

The technical reports were developed by the department to help inform the development of the draft floodplain harvesting licensing rules in the Macquarie valley.

If you require assistance in reading these documents, please contact 1300 081 047 or water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au

Report to assist community consultation

The Macquarie: Floodplain harvesting in water sharing plans–Report to assist community consultation PDF, 590.43 KB report aims to assist the community in understanding the proposed types of rules for floodplain harvesting access licences in the Macquarie valley. 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 requires that individual entitlements in regulated river 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.

Building the river system model for the Macquarie valley regulated river system describes the development of the Macquarie valley river system model. 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 is fit for purpose.

Floodplain Harvesting Entitlements for Macquarie Cudgegong Regulated River System: Model Scenarios Report, describes how the model of the Macquarie valley was used to estimate the baseline diversion limit, and to subsequently estimate individual floodplain harvesting entitlements.

The modelling reports for the Macquarie valley have been independently peer-reviewed.

These reports were updated on 9 September 2022.

Environmental outcomes reports

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. The NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy will provide a more sustainable level of water diversions from the floodplain.

Hydrological metrics for native fish, floodplain native vegetation, waterbirds, key ecosystem functions and wetlands were modelled for two scenarios. Implementation of the policy is predicted to provide small environmental improvements in the Macquarie valley.

Environmental outcomes of implementing the Floodplain Harvesting Policy: Macquarie Report provides a detailed assessment of the likely benefits for the environment of implementing the policy in the Macquarie valley.

Environmental outcomes of implementing the Floodplain Harvesting Policy: Macquarie growth in general security scenario report provides a detailed assessment of the likely benefits for the environment of implementing the policy in the Macquarie valley if general security use grows to the legal limit and floodplain harvesting diversions need to be reduced.

A summary of the environmental outcomes predicted for the Border Rivers, Gwydir and Macquarie Valleys is available below.

Downstream effects reports

Modelling has shown that total water use, including floodplain harvesting, is within legal limits in the Macquarie valley. This means that there will be no reductions in current take, and there will be little environmental benefits from any foregone diversions.

The report of the modelled downstream effects of licensing floodplain harvesting that quantifies the potential downstream impacts of increased flows was not updated at the time of consultation for the Macquarie valley given the limited environmental benefits from any foregone diversions. A downstream effects report has been updated for consultation on the draft floodplain harvesting licensing rules in the Barwon-Darling valley in June 2022 and includes information about the Macquarie valley.

Independent peer review

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

What we heard

The what we heard report summarises the feedback the NSW Government received during the public consultation sessions and from written submissions for the Macquarie valley.

In addition to the final rules detailed in the What we heard report, an additional rule has been proposed that acknowledges the connectivity between the Barwon-Darling valley and the northern inland tributary valleys, and ensure flows are temporarily protected from floodplain harvesting following a dry period. More information on this rule.

Download report

The Macquarie Submissions Report PDF, 445.02 KB details the submissions received via the online platform. Please note only submissions where approval was given to publish have been included. Written submissions or attachments with additional information can be found below.