Reconnecting River Country Program
The NSW Government has announced the Reconnecting River Country Program (the program) to improve environmental, social and cultural outcomes for communities along the Murray and Murrumbidgee River systems. The program focuses on delivering local community benefits first and foremost, as part of the NSW Government’s continued commitment to delivering sensible, community driven Murray-Darling Basin Plan outcomes. It reimagines the previous Constraints Measures Program and has been developed based on extensive feedback from the local community.
About the program
The program aims to achieve a balance of economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes across southern NSW by improving wetland and floodplain connectivity. The NSW Government has gone back to the drawing board, looked at the lessons learned from previous consultations and has designed a program focused on working collaboratively and extensively with the community to meet local needs, using the best available and most recent science and modelling. There will be a number of opportunities for communities to participate PDF, 205.49 KB in and contribute toward the ongoing development of the program with further details to come.
The program focuses on relaxing or removing some of the constraints or physical barriers impacting the delivery of water for the environment in the following areas in the southern-connected Murray–Darling Basin (the basin):
- Hume to Yarrawonga (Murray River)
- Yarrawonga to Wakool (Murray River)
- Murrumbidgee River.
A constraint is any physical, policy or operational barrier limiting the flow of water in river systems. There are a range of flow constraints in the basin, meaning rivers connect to their floodplains less often than is needed to maintain healthy river, wetland and floodplain ecosystems. The program aims to remove or relax these constraints.
Removing or ‘relaxing’ constraints allows water for the environment to be delivered at higher levels and at more appropriate times. This will enhance the outcomes achievable with water for the environment.
Solutions for the Lower Darling that were previously included in the former Constraints Measures Program are being considered as part of the rescope of the Menindee Lakes Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) project. More details will be available over the next few months and comprehensive community engagement will be carried out regarding any potential project options.
The program will potentially deliver important economic stimulus and benefit to regional economies in southern NSW. Importantly, it will also create healthier river systems providing generational benefits for local communities.
Implementation of the program will also potentially deliver a range of outcomes benefitting Aboriginal communities, such as improved connection between healthy Country and a healthy, vibrant, and sustainable Aboriginal culture and community.
Landholders, land managers and communities will see the benefits through investment in infrastructure and on-farm works, the potential for improved agricultural productivity for graziers due to floodplain flows, as well as improved recreational fishing and tourism.
The NSW Government will collaborate with stakeholders to ensure issues are identified and a suite of tools developed to mitigate any potential effects before making changes to existing rules, policies or infrastructure.
This may include new or upgraded infrastructure, easements or changes to river operating rules, which will be developed collaboratively with stakeholders as the program progresses.
Visit the program website to register your details for updates, ask a question and access further information.
The program is funded by the Australian Government and is part of the NSW Government’s commitment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
It is being led by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s (the department) Water Infrastructure NSW in partnership with the department’s Environment, Energy and Science division and the Department of Regional NSW’s Local Land Services, who will work with landholders and communities across the southern basin to implement the program.
In delivering the program we are also working with:
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
- NSW Department of Primary Industries–Fisheries
- Murray–Darling Basin Authority
- Victorian Government.
The NSW Government is also bringing forward $320 million worth of its remaining SDLAM projects through the NSW SDLAM Acceleration Program. Two of these projects deliver outcomes within the Reconnecting River Country Yarrawonga to Wakool project, including:
- Koondrook-Perricoota Flow Enabling Works
- Mid-Murray Anabranches Constraints Demonstration Reach