Water eNews June 2019

Water news

JUNE 2019  | ISSUE #5

Drought roadshow visits 15 towns

Gunnedah drought session

In late May and early June, the NSW Government visited some of our drought affected regions to discuss how to manage the ongoing drought with local communities. The department and WaterNSW gave an update on the availability of surface water and ground water, and how we intend to manage remaining water if dry conditions persist.

We heard some common messages across the state, including concerns about drought proofing for the future, reducing water losses, and how we’re improving compliance. But the number one message was very clear – our communities want to know what’s going on, and be involved in drought management decisions.

Conditions remain severe across the state. Our northern valleys have experienced the lowest level of inflows on record, and the southern basin and greater Hunter region are experiencing close to the worst droughts on record. Water for critical human needs will be our priority this water year.

Statewide water allocation announcements for the new water year will be made on 1 July.

Keep track of drought updates on our website.

$5.3 million towards water security for Tamworth

The NSW Government will invest up to $5.3 million to provide water security for Tamworth, in response to the extreme drought across NSW.

Chaffey Dam is the primary water supply for Tamworth, but current inflows are very low, and the dam recently dropped to 25 per cent of capacity. The groundwater was intended to be used a backup supply, but the study has shown it won’t be a viable long term option.

WaterNSW and Tamworth Regional Council will immediately use $3.4 million to construct a series of temporary weirs in the Peel River and near the pumping station. The remaining money will be used to protect town water and plan for a longer term solution.

Northern flows reach the Walgett Weir

Barwon River at Collarenebri

In June, environmental flows released from Copeton and Glenlyon Dams reached the Walgett Weir. The flow has replenished waterholes in the Dumaresq, MacIntyre and Barwon rivers, some of which had been isolated for nearly a year.

The flows were originally released in late April by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. They were supplemented by rainfall in April and May, and flows originating from Cyclone Trevor.

The flows from the two dams have collectively travelled more than a thousand kilometres through very dry areas. Losses due to seepage have been high, but enough water is arriving to help support aquatic habitats and fish populations.

The flows are being monitored on foot by staff from the Natural Resources Access Regulator, with over fifty inspections so far. The Murray Darling Basin Authority has also been monitoring the flows from the sky, via satellite. Releases from Copeton Dam are now slowing. Releases from Glenlyon Dam ceased in mid-May.

Welcome flows have also arrived in the Darling River. Naturally occurring inflows from the Warrego and Culgoa Rivers have now reached Wilcannia and Bourke, respectively.

Welcome to Jim Bentley

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to Jim Bentley, the new Deputy Secretary Water. Jim joins us from the executive team at the Hunter Water Corporation, and will be taking on the NSW Government’s most senior water role from July 1.

Jim will be overseeing our largest water infrastructure programs, and working closely with both large and small water utilities to continue to provide services to our communities. He will be responsible for negotiating with other jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, to ensure we retain sustainable and affordable access to this key resource.

From July 1, the Department of Industry will also be joining a larger government cluster. We’ll now be a part of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. This name change won’t impact our day to day services or programs.

Compliance in Coffs Harbour with NRAR

NRAR in Coffs Harbour

Officers from the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) recently visited Coffs Harbour to talk to the community about NRAR’s water law compliance campaign. They were kicking off a five-month program inspecting properties to assess compliance with water laws in the intensive local horticulture industry.

Director Water Regulation (East) Greg Abood said NRAR had a warm welcome when he and Manager, Monitoring and Audit (East) Guy Ohandja met with community and industry groups, residents and a Coffs Harbour councillor a few days after the project had begun.

“They were very trusting, welcoming and thankful for our leadership and work in water regulation,” Mr Abood said. “Industry and community alike agreed they need us, and want us to succeed.”

The officers are inspecting water take, monitoring, dam size, and practices in place to protect water quality in nearby watercourses.

Budget provides for regional communities

The 2019-20 NSW budget firmly targeted relief for drought affected communities, with the total support package now worth over $1.8 billion. The NSW Government recognises that the drought is affecting towns and local economies, and will fast track local infrastructure projects to keep people employed and families in towns.

We’ll also be investing in water security for our regional communities. We’re fast-tracking regional water strategies, delivering the pipeline from Lostock Dam to Glennies Creek, and investing in bores and drains in the Great Artesian Basin. We’ll also be funding emergency water supplies and waiving charges for water licences, to help support our regional communities right now.

Visit the NSW Government drought hub

New sewage treatment plant at Hay nearly complete

Hay waste water treatment plant

The ageing sewage treatment plant at Hay will soon be replaced after serving the community for nearly 80 years.

Originally built in the 1940s, the trickling filter plant used simple technology to filter organic material from wastewater. However the plant has begun to show its age, suffering structural issues, and is struggling to meet contemporary wastewater standards. To meet health and safety standards, it’s being replaced as part of the Safe and Secure Water Program.

The Safe and Secure Water Program is a $1 billion regional co-funding program which helps deliver safe, secure and sustainable water services to regional NSW towns.  The sewage treatment plant at Hay is being replaced through a joint initiative between the Department of Industry – Water and Hay Council, with 75% funding from the NSW Government.

The new sewage treatment plant was designed by Hay Council. It will use aeration and a biological floc to remove organic material and nutrients from waste through an activated sludge process. The new plant will meet contemporary standards for wastewater.

About the Safe and Secure Water Program.

Latest water news from the department

View all


Water News is our monthly update on water planning, management and reform in NSW. If you have any questions or feedback contact us at:

NSW Government – Water Relations
Phone +61 2 9338 6600