About SDLAM in the Murrumbidgee River

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

Stage 1 pre-construction planning is now taking place for the first four projects. The NSW Government is committed to meaningful and transparent stakeholder engagement in these projects. The Department will comply with the requirements of the NSW Gateway Policy as well as NSW and Commonwealth planning and environmental legislation.

Options will be assessed to identify a preferred option that delivers the service need on a value for money basis. Actions that mitigate all third party and environmental impacts will also be developed.

A decision will be made by the NSW and Commonwealth governments at the end of Stage 1 on whether to proceed to construction.

The adjustment mechanism could provide an offset of 162 gigalitres across the Murrumbidgee Valley, which would mean that additional water purchases may not be necessary.

Yanco SDLAM projects

The first two projects directly affect the Yanco Creek System. A Community Engagement Plan (see below) sets out how you can participate in these projects.

To understand and respond to the interests of important stakeholders, three advisory groups have been formed to discuss and analyse issues that are most significant to them:

Advisory groups will provide non-binding advice to the department. We’ll collaborate with them and incorporate their advice into our recommendations and decisions to the greatest possible extent. They’ll also shape and endorse the indicators we use to measure success and the targets we aspire to reach.

Community Engagement Plan

Comprehensive stakeholder engagement, detailed investigations and planning approvals will be required before the projects can progress to implementation.

A draft Community Engagement Plan has been prepared to guide how we will work with the community and we sought feedback on this plan.

Submissions closed on Friday 27 September 2019

Once we’ve analysed and considered all community feedback with help from YACTAC, we’ll publish the agreed engagement plan on our website.

Our advisory groups will periodically review the engagement plan and propose improvements.

Fact sheets

Further information and resources will be available soon.

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.

What is the benefit of the Yanco Creek Offake proposal?

The proposal is designed to allow environmental flows 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.