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River review

Saturday, 22nd December, 2018

By Craig Brealey

The management of water for the environment in the Lower Darling River is under review, says the NSW Department of Industry-Water.

This was being done as part of the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s water resource plans for the Southern Basin, according to the department’s Executive Director Rachel Connell. 

“We are reviewing a number of rules, with feedback provided through stakeholder advisory panels and other NSW agencies including the Office of Environment and Heritage and DPI Fisheries,” Ms Connell said.  

The NSW Government was implementing new procedures to improve environmental water management in the Murray, Lower Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers, she said. 

“Known as pre-requisite policy measures, these procedures will maximise the efficient use and beneficial outcomes of held environmental water and ensure that the entitlements of other water users are protected.”

A public exhibition of the proposed changes to the state water sharing plans will take place next year before the plans are finalised, said Ms Connell.

This week the department reported on what it was doing to improve environmental water management in the Northern Basin.

Ms Connell was asked if the review took into account of the over-allocation of water licences to cotton growers and how that affected the flows downstream.

She said NSW managed the surface water resources to the level of irrigation development, as it stood in 1993/1994, by capping the volume of water that could be diverted.

“Water is allocated to individual entitlement holders based on a number of factors including the volume stored in dams, the expected inflows and rainfall through the year,” Ms Connell said. 

“NSW manages this process to ensure the cap is not breached.

“Under the Basin Plan, water consumption in the Northern Basin will be reduced by 320 GL per year on average by 2019.”

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