Gwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Operations

In the Gwydir valley, the expertise and experience of community members and regional agency staff, comes together in the management of environmental water.

The Gwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Operations Advisory Group (ECAOAC) includes representatives from a diverse range of backgrounds, including the Aboriginal community, Local Land Services (North West), the NSW Department of Primary Industries, landholders from the Gingham, Lower Gwydir and Mallowa Creek Watercourses, Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (an independent environment group), independent scientists, NSW Office of Water and the Water NSW.

The ECAOAC is chaired by Ken Flower, general manager of the North West Local Land Service, who strongly believes in the facilitation of community involvement in decisions on environmental water allocations and use.

“The committee presents a real opportunity to combine the input and expertise of community and various government departments and agencies,” he said.

“The key challenge and opportunity is to allow the community to see the benefits of environment water first hand,” he said.

Senior wetlands conservation officer Daryl Albertson has seen the role of the advisory group expand since its inception in 2002.

“In its early stages, the Gwydir ECAOAC provided advice to government on the use of water from a single environmental water entitlement - the environmental contingency allowance (ECA),” Mr Albertson said.

“Efforts were largely focused on supporting colonial waterbird breeding when it occurred in the Gwydir Wetlands.

“In more recent times, committee membership has broadened in line with an increase in the local  environmental water portfolio and scope for its use across the Gwydir catchment.

“The suite of watering sites now consists of assets in the Mallowa watercourse, native fish in the Mehi River and Carole Creek, as well as deliveries into the Gwydir wetlands for a variety of outcomes, including waterbirds.”

The activities of the ECAOAC include:

  • formulating a clear method for auditing all flows throughout the system
  • developing the ‘Adaptive Management’ framework for annual planning and decision-making
  • full and transparent reporting of seasonal environmental watering activities
  • delivery of environmental water to ensure the success of the large-scale colonial waterbird breeding-cycle throughout the 2011-2012 season
  • building the resilience of identified assets through a planned sequence of water deliveries.

Water managed by the ECAOAC is sourced from:

The Gwydir Water Sharing Plan sets aside an ECA of up to 45,000 megalitres in Copeton Dam, accruing at the same rate as the general security entitlement.


You can contact the ECAOAC through:

Jane Humphries (Executive Officer)
Wetlands Conservation Officer
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Office: (02)6751 2713  Mobile: 0448 442 434



Daryl Albertson
Senior Rivers & Wetlands Conservation Officer
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
Office:  (02) 6773 7004 Mobile:  0407 071 985



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Page last updated: 09 July 2015