Floodplain Harvesting licence rules in the water sharing plan for the Namoi 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 valleys.

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 draft rules for floodplain harvesting access licences to be included in Namoi water sharing plans were released for comment through public consultation on 1 December 2022.

Public consultation on the draft floodplain harvesting rules associated with regulated river water sources in the Namoi Valley will close at 11.59 pm on 29 January 2023.

Public consultation on the draft floodplain harvesting rules associated with unregulated river water sources in the Namoi Valley has been extended and will now close at 11.59 pm on 28 February 2023. The extension for unregulated river water sources is in response to community feedback received during consultation in mid-December 2022.

Consultation sessions

The department will hold a public meeting on 7 February 2023 in Gunnedah to provide an overview of the proposed rules, differences for floodplain harvesting in unregulated versus regulated river water sources and floodplain harvesting measurement requirements. There will be opportunities to ask questions and get information about how to share your feedback. Find more information and register to attend.

The department held a public webinar and a public meeting in Wee Waa in December 2022. Participants were provided with information about the implementation of the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy and proposed rules for floodplain harvesting access licences in the Namoi. Outcomes from the consultation will continue to be updated. You can read the presentation and watch a recording of the webinar.

Have your say

Stakeholder and community input is an important part of transparent and inclusive water management, and the department is committed to ensuring the community has their say.

If you would like to make a submission you can:

Have your say on the draft floodplain harvesting rules associated with regulated river water sources in the Namoi Valley before 11.59 pm on 29 January 2023.

Have your say on the draft floodplain harvesting rules associated with unregulated river water sources in the Namoi Valley before 11.59 pm on 28 February 2023.

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

Have your say

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

Reports

The technical reports below have been prepared by the department to help inform the development of the draft rules for floodplain harvesting access licences in the Namoi 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 Namoi: Floodplain harvesting in water sharing plans – Report to assist community consultation report (PDF, 3219.31 KB) aims to assist the community in understanding the types of rules proposed for floodplain harvesting access licences in the Namoi. It also provides a summary of the other technical reports and explains the interaction between the rules, modelling and the expected environmental outcomes 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 (PDF, 11660.69 KB) for the Namoi regulated river system describes the development of the Namoi 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 Namoi Regulated River System: Model Scenarios Report (PDF, 742.37 KB) describes how the Namoi valley river system model was used to estimate the extraction limit, and to subsequently estimate individual floodplain harvesting entitlements.

The modelling reports for the Namoi are being independently peer-reviewed. A report on this review will be provided once it’s finalised.

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

A set of hydrological metrics and environmental flow requirements (EFRs) were used to test and identify potential outcomes for environmental values (including native fish, native vegetation, and waterbirds) of implementing the policy in the Namoi Valley. Implementation of the policy is predicted to provide small environmental improvements in the Namoi Valley.

The Environmental outcomes of implementing the Floodplain Harvesting policy in the Namoi Valley: Technical report (PDF, 10988.83 KB) provides a detailed assessment of the likely benefits for the environment of implementing the policy in the Namoi Valley.

Downstream effects report

The NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy will restrict the volume of water that can be taken from the floodplain, providing gains to the system through foregone diversions.

Any gains in upstream systems such as the Namoi valley will translate into the downstream with additional volumes contributing to connectivity between the broader northern Basin system and provision of increased flows towards Menindee Lakes and into the River Murray.

Modelled downstream effects of licensing floodplain harvesting (PDF, 4458.84 KB) quantifies the potential downstream impacts of these increased flows. This report includes work completed for the NSW Border Rivers, Gwydir, Macquarie and Barwon-Darling valleys.

Summary of draft rules for floodplain harvesting in the Namoi

Summaries of the proposed rules for floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licences and floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences in the Namoi are provided below. Feedback is being sought through a public submission process from 1 December 2022 until 29 January 2023 on these draft rules. Rules will be included in the Namoi water sharing plans once finalised, based on the outcomes of public consultation.

Floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licences – rule summary

Type of ruleProposed rule for floodplain harvesting
Account managementAccount limit: Maximum of 5 ML per unit share at any time.
Available water determinationInitial available water determination of 1 ML per unit share.
Available water determination of 1 ML per unit share every year after that, subject to decreases to respond to growth.
Permanent tradeEstablishing management zones that largely reflect existing unregulated river water source boundaries with some being merged to create trade opportunities.
No permanent trade of floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licences between management zones.
No nomination of works located outside the relevant declared floodplains.
No nomination of new works located in management zones A, AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan.
Granting or amending water supply works approvalsNo modification of works located in management zones A, AD or D established under the relevant floodplain management plan if it results in an increased capacity.
No new works constructed in management zones A, AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan.
No new or modified works outside management zones A, AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan if the construction or modification would result in an increased rate of take for works located within these management zones.
No new works in management zone AID of the relevant floodplain management plan if the work is also a flood work and a flood work approval has not been obtained.
Access rulesAccess is not permitted when Menindee Lakes is below 195 GL except during periods when there is a flow of at least 4,500 ML/day in the Namoi River at the Bugilbone gauge.

Floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences – rule summary

Type of ruleProposed rule for floodplain harvesting
Account managementTake limit: 3 ML per unit share over 3 consecutive years.
Account limit: Maximum of 3 ML per unit share at any time.
Available water determinationInitial available water determination of 1 ML per unit share.
Available water determination of 1 ML per unit share every year after that, subject to decreases to respond to growth.
Permanent tradeApplication of trade rules that currently exist for unregulated river access licences.
No nomination of works located outside the Lower Namoi Valley floodplain or Upper Namoi Valley floodplain.
No nomination of works located in management zones AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan.
Granting or amending water supple works approvalsNo modification of works located in management zones AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan if it results in an increased capacity.
No new works constructed in management zones AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan.
No new or modified works outside management zones AD or D of the relevant floodplain management plan if the construction or modification would result in an increased rate of take for works located within these management zones.
No new works in management zone AID of the relevant floodplain management plan if the work is also a flood work and a flood work approval has not been obtained.
Privacy

The Department of Planning and Environment is subject to the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 in managing your personal information. Please review our privacy statement for more information.

In the interests of transparency, all feedback received will be published on the department’s website. Before lodging your submission, you will be asked to confirm that you have read our privacy statement.

You can choose to have your feedback published anonymously or not published at all. If you wish to maintain your privacy in this submission process you must:

  • request your name be withheld when emailing your submission to us
  • not include any of your personal information in your submission or attachments
  • tick the relevant box when completing an online submission