Water eNews April 2019
APRIL 2019 | ISSUE #3
Welcome to Minister Melinda Pavey
This month, the Department of Industry – Water is welcoming a new minister for water, with Minister Melinda Pavey taking over from Minister Niall Blair.
Formerly the Minister for Roads, Minister Pavey has hit the ground running, with early visits to Broken Hill, Menindee, Pooncarie, Narrabri, Moree, Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett. She arrived in time to see the new Wentworth to Broken Hill Pipeline come into full operation.
Minister Pavey heard about the ways the drought is affecting communities, both physically and emotionally. She will continue to focus on supporting the NSW communities and industries doing it tough.
The Minister thanked local staff for the incredibly tough job they had been doing under very trying circumstances, and she was well aware that our staff across the state are very much part of the communities in which they live.
Minister Pavey is looking forward to visiting other parts of the state in the coming weeks
Dry conditions continue across the majority of NSW. Inflows and storage levels in the north-western NSW river valleys are now lower than they were during the millennium drought.
The most affected valleys are:
- Stage 4 critical drought – Lower Darling, Barwon-Darling and Lower Namoi
- Stage 3 severe drought – Upper Namoi and Macquarie
- Stage 2 emerging drought – Gwydir and Border Rivers
For more information on how limited water supplies are being managed in these valleys, visit our Drought Update.
In February 2019, we held public information sessions with WaterNSW in key drought impacted regions. We gave updates on the availability outlook, and measures to manage the river systems.
Snowy Advisory Committee issues its first advice
In February, the Snowy Advisory Committee gave the NSW Government its first advice on the Snowy River environmental water strategies for 2019-2020. The Committee recommended high flow events during the winter and spring of 2019, with the largest flow scheduled to help flush the river system in October.
The Snowy Advisory Committee was formed in 2018 to help guide management of water flows from the Snowy Hydro Scheme. Releases from the Scheme enter the Snowy River catchment and several montane rivers in Kosciuszko National Park.
The drought means there will be less water for environmental flows than in recent years, but the pattern of water releases for the flow events will still benefit the environment. Regular flushing of the river system helps support the ecosystems that depend on the Snowy.
Southern Coalfield groundwater monitoring
The NSW Government is expanding the state’s groundwater monitoring network in the coal basins of NSW. This initiative will improve our knowledge of groundwater behaviour through better mapping, monitoring and management.
18 new bores will be installed in the Southern Coalfield to collect data on water level changes and test water quality. Once the program is complete, we’ll share the data with the public, delivering a long-term benefit for multiple data users.
Water trade and allocations dashboards
We’ve added two dashboards to our website to help track water allocations and trading data. The new dashboards will help water users to track the movement and price of water, assisting them to make more informed trade decisions.
Currently, the data is being updated weekly. Over time, we will adapt it into a real time tracking tool to make water allocations and trades more transparent than ever.
Welcome rain falls in the Northern Basin
Late March saw rainfall across much of New South Wales, with falls in the Castlereagh, Namoi, Macquarie and Hunter Valleys. The rain helped to ease short-term conditions for towns on the Namoi and Castlereagh rivers.
We placed temporary restrictions in some valleys to protect flows for high priority uses including critical human needs, stock and domestic licences, and critical ecosystem needs. We’re working with WaterNSW and the Natural Resource Access Regulator to protect this water.
Water users are reminded to check their licence conditions before turning on their pumps.
For more information visit our Drought Update web page
Environmental flows to support fish health
The NSW Government and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder are working together to release environmental water to support fish health in the northern Basin.
These environmental flows will help replenish critical waterholes in the Dumaresq, Macintyre and Gwydir rivers. These waterholes provide refuges for native fish during drought conditions.
The flows are being protected by a section 324 temporary pump restriction for the Barwon-Darling River system. Water users are reminded to check their licence conditions before turning on their pumps.
Have your say on new water resource plans
Water resource plans are a key requirement of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. NSW is now drafting our remaining water resource plans, with 12 plans still to go on public exhibition. The five remaining surface water and seven groundwater plans will go on exhibition on a rolling schedule over the coming months.
The department will run information sessions during the public exhibition period for each of the plans. These sessions will explain the water resource plan, proposed changes to water sharing plans, and the submission process.
We’ll be seeking community feedback to ensure the draft water resource plans address the needs of communities, the environment and the economy. Please share this information with your networks.
Natural Resources Access Regulator
No sign of embargo breaches out west
NRAR staff were on the ground in early April to assess water users’ compliance with a temporary water restriction in the Namoi, Macquarie and Peel Rivers. NRAR is investigating alleged breaches reported by the public.
Report suspicious water activity
If you’ve seen something that doesn’t seem right, you can report it anonymously through our website.
A form is available on our website, and reports will be reviewed by NRAR within ten days.
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