Sustainable Diversion Limit Projects in the Murrumbidgee River

New South Wales is leading six SDLAM projects that aim to increase the Murrumbidgee sustainable diversion limit:

The NSW Government is committed to meaningful and transparent stakeholder engagement in these projects.

About the Yanco projects

The first three of the Murrumbidgee SDLAM projects listed above directly affect the Yanco Creek system. A fourth project, Murrumbidgee constraints relaxation, is also likely to influence the upper Yanco Creek.

Pre-construction planning is now taking place for the Yanco Creek Offtake and effluent modernisation projects–the final form of these project is yet to be determined. CARM is already operating and under evaluation by WaterNSW.

The NSW Department of Industry is at the start of its engagement with the local community in the pre-construction phase, and acknowledges the community’s concerns regarding previous engagement.

Pre-construction planning will comply with the requirements of the NSW Gateway Policy as well as NSW and Commonwealth planning and environmental legislation. The Department will be required to identify and assess alternatives, select a preferred option that delivers the service need on a value for money basis, and develop mitigating actions that address all third party and environmental impacts. These projects can proceed to construction only once planning approvals have been granted and funding is agreed with the Australian Government.

Further project information can be found in the following links:

Fact sheets

Further information and resources will be available on this page soon.

Stakeholder engagement

Between 4 and 5 December 2018 the Department of Industry–Water met with community members and stakeholders at Conargo and Jerilderie to provide information and gain feedback on the proposed Yanco SDLAM projects.

With more than 450 people participating, the department received a significant amount of feedback during these meetings. The department is pleased to publish the full report summarising the discussions held during these meetings.

Presentations delivered at the stakeholder meetings:

Frequently asked questions

What is proposed at the Yanco Creek Offtake? 

A proposal was put forward in 2015 to improve flow management at Yanco Creek, however, further community consultation will occur before any plans are finalised.

The proposal included construction of a new regulator near the Yanco Creek Offtake, a new regulator near the site of the current fixed crest Yanco Weir in the Murrumbidgee River to raise the existing weir pool by up to 2.5m, and two new fishways.

Will Yanco Creek be cut off from the Murrumbidgee?

There are no plans to cut off Yanco Creek from the Murrumbidgee River or stop water flowing to Colombo, Billabong and Forest creeks. The proposed Yanco Creek regulator will not permanently close water flow.

More information about possible future flow regimes within the Yanco Creek System will soon become available with the public release of a draft Murrumbidgee Long Term Environmental Watering Plan. This draft expected to be release to the public for comment in May 2019 by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

What is the benefit of the Yanco Creek Offake proposal?

The proposal is designed to allow environmental flows of up to 45,000 ML to be more efficiently delivered below Narrandera, which contains the largest remaining area of wetlands in the Murrumbidgee Valley and supports significant waterbird and native fish populations.

The proposal provides for more efficient delivery by enabling a larger proportion of river flows to pass downstream in the Murrumbidgee River rather than being diverted, uncontrollably, into Yanco Creek.

The proposed new fishway at the Murrumbidgee Regulator will also improve fish passage between Gogeldrie and Berembed weirs–a river distance of almost 100 kilometres.

Has the Government assessed the risks associated with this proposal?

A preliminary risk assessment identified the potential impacts of the proposal as well as potential mitigation measures.

Before we implement the proposed Project, the department is required by law to undertake comprehensive environmental and socio-economic impact studies, which includes extensive stakeholder engagement processes. The project will not be approved unless the department can demonstrate that potential impacts can be avoided or mitigated.

What is the status of the work?

A business case has been prepared, however, it has not been finalised. All plans are at the concept stage only, and the current pre-construction phase is not expected to be complete until mid-2022. Should the project proceed to construction, it is not expected to be complete until mid-2024.

How does the proposed project Yanco Creek relate to the Murray Darling Basin Plan?

The proposal is one of a suite of “supply” projects submitted under the MDBP Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism. These projects allow environmental outcomes targeted in the Basin Plan to be achieved with less water. This means that more water can remain in the system for other users.

Any potential inter-dependencies between supply measure projects under the SDL Adjustment Mechanism can only be formally determined once a final package of supply measure projects (as constructed) is modelled by the MDBA.

Why isn’t there more information available?

Preliminary business cases and supporting fact sheets were developed in 2015 to provide information for the Australian Government to assess.

The project needed to clear this process before NSW could apply for funding to continue detailed project planning, design, community and stakeholder engagement and approvals.

Funding to progress the pre-construction planning phase was secured in February 2019. It is expected that additional information and resources will be published over the next 6-12 months.

Will other options be considered?

Changes to the business case proposals will be considered. Alternatives identified by stakeholders in addition to those already described in the business cases will be assessed using an options evaluation framework (that is under development) to determine the preferred set of options for construction and/or implementation.

What happens if there is an SDL shortfall?

Arrangements for making good on any shortfall to the NSW component of the 605GL SDL adjustment package are still being negotiated. In the first instance, any reduction to the SDL contribution made by one project is expected to be offset against additional environmental outcomes achieved by other projects in the package. Any remaining shortfall may lead to further licence purchases by the Commonwealth.