NSW Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism projects

Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) is a way to achieve similar or even better environmental outcomes for rivers, wetlands and wildlife using less water as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

SDLAM projects

SDLAM can be achieved through supply, including constraints, or efficiency measures. For more information about how the measures work, visit Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

In 2017, the Basin states and the Commonwealth agreed on a package of 36 SDLAM projects across the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin.

NSW Government is currently developing 9 projects, in collaboration with local communities, key stakeholders and other Basin states, with funding from the Australian Government.

Why SDLAM is important

The Murray Darling Basin Plan was developed to improve and maintain healthy rivers and floodplains, while supporting sustainable agriculture, industries and communities. The Basin Plan is about more than water recovery, it is about striking a balance to ensure a resilient and productive environment for the future.

Water for the environment recovered through the Basin Plan will not solve all the river health issues. There simply is not enough water to simulate the large-scale events needed to reconnect the rivers to the floodplains as often and to the extent they need.

SDLAM projects further the significant works already completed under the Basin Plan. Better environmental outcomes can be achieved without the need for additional water recovery through infrastructure, changing rules to deliver water to high value environmental sites and changing the way rivers are managed. Often infrastructure, such as flow regulators, pumps or channels, are the only way to get water to key environmental sites in the volumes needed. Another option is to ease constraints to the delivery of water for the environment, allowing managed higher flows down the river to connect rivers and floodplains more often.

The SDLAM Acceleration Program

To date, 12 of NSW Government’s SDLAM projects are complete or nearly complete and are delivering Basin Plan outcomes. The water recovered through these projects is already having positive impacts for Basin communities.

Building on this progress, the NSW Government is proposing to bring forward $320 million worth of its remaining SDLAM projects through the NSW SDLAM Acceleration Program (the Acceleration Program). This program will remove barriers and streamline construction funding to allow the delivery of five projects by June 2024.

The projects being proposed for accelerated include the:

This Acceleration Program will deliver up to 45 GL of the outstanding amount needed to reach the 605 GL target required by the Basin Plan each year, delivering strong ecological outcomes for the Murray-Darling Basin.

These proposed projects will also play a key role in creating jobs in regional areas, generating an estimated 450 direct and 850 indirect regional jobs, and will provide a much-needed boost to the regional economies where the projects are being delivered.

Rescope of the Menindee Lakes and Yanco Creek Offtake Projects

The Menindee Lakes and Yanco Creek Offtake Projects have caused a high level of concern in their respective communities. Recognising these projects have unique sensitivities and cannot be delivered in their current form by 2024, they are currently being rescoped.

There are multiple issues that need to be resolved. This is why, during the next few months, the focus will be on rescoping these projects to look at whether there are projects which could be done instead of what was previously proposed (view Menindee Lakes and Yanco Creek Offtake Project information). This will include revising baseline schedules and budgets, as well as carrying out an assessment of the benefits and risks of a potential project.

We are committed to working with communities on delivering projects that will have broad community support.

Projects outside the SDLAM Acceleration Program and rescope work

The NSW Government is committed to projects that deliver the economic, social, environmental and cultural outcomes sought by the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

More time is needed to the deliver projects outside of the SDLAM Acceleration Program and rescope work so we can provide stronger Basin outcomes, improve river health and provide economic stimulus to our regions.

Work on these projects will not stop. We will continue to refine these projects and to seek the views of our community and industry. We will also continue to seek a way forward with our Basin counterparts. Our continued work will give us a solid basis to continue advocating for an extension of timeframes to deliver solid, environmental, social, economic and cultural outcomes.