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What is not on this website

Why some rivers don’t have environmental objectives

At the time the environmental objectives were approved by the Government (September 1999) the Healthy Rivers Commission (HRC) had completed or substantially completed public inquiries for the catchments of the Clarence, Hawkesbury-Nepean, Williams and Shoalhaven rivers. Environmental objectives are not provided here for those four catchments, or for the Woronora sub-catchment for which an inquiry was well under way before the commencement of a wider inquiry into the whole Georges River–Botany Bay system. The HRC recommended Water Quality Objectives in its Final Reports for these catchments. Government confirmed these Objectives in its response to the reports in Statements of Intent. The HRC's reports and the Statements of Intent are available from the Natural Resources Commission (NRC).

Interstate processes have or are being used to determine water-sharing arrangements for the Snowy River, the River Murray and the Border Rivers (rivers forming or crossing the NSW-Queensland border). Therefore environmental objectives are not provided here for these rivers.

Healthy Rivers Commission Inquiries

In 2004 the Healthy River Commission was discontinued and the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) established. Government has asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider the incorporation of any outstanding Healthy River Commission recommendations into Catchment Action Plans and Government programs.

The former Healthy Rivers Commission made recommendations to Government in relation to various catchments on:

Reports of the Commission's inquiries and details of inquiries including environmental objectives can be found on the NRC's website at www.nrc.nsw.gov.au or on shop.nsw at http://www.bookshop.nsw.gov.au/agencydetails.jsp?agency=73

The Natural Resources Commission

The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) was established under the Natural Resources Commission Act 2003 to recommend state-wide standards and targets for natural resource management and to audit Catchment Action Plans (developed by Catchment Management Authorities) in achieving these standards and targets. The NRC can be found at www.nrc.nsw.gov.au

The Water Quality and River Flow environmental objectives are used as the basis for the NRC's water resource condition targets. Catchment Action Plans will be assessed against how actions in the plans have contributed to achieving these targets.

Interstate processes

Snowy River catchment

The Snowy Water Inquiry was commissioned in 1998 to assess river management of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme and recommend environmental flow options for rivers affected by tbe Scheme. The Inquiry’s terms of reference required analysis of the environmental, social and economic effects of various options for future management, prior to making recommendations to the NSW and Victorian Governments. The final report of the Inquiry was submitted on 23 October 1998. In August 2000, the NSW and Victorial Governments reached an agreement for environmental releases for the Snowy River below Jindabyne Dam which will increase flows from 1% to 22% of natural flows downstream of Jindabyne Dam withing 10 years. Releases were also agreed for other rivers affected by the Scheme, including the upper Murrumbidgee River, the upper Snowy River (above Jindabyne Dam), the Goodradigbee River and the Geehi River.

To avoid confusion between the process of developing interim environmental objectives and the outcomes of the Inquiry and interstate processes, no river flow or water quality objectives were recommended for the Snowy River or its tributaries.

Where water quality objectives are required for waterways in the Snowy catchment, DEC recommends that aquatic ecosystems protection, raw drinking water (for treatment), primary and secondary recreation be applied as default environmental values, with technical criteria derived using the Australian Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC/ARMCANZ 2000). Irrigation, livestock and homestead water use are recommended as additional environmental values outside the Kosciuszko National Park.

Murray and Lower Darling river systems

The Murray, Lower Darling, Edward, Wakool and Niemur Rivers and the Great Darling Anabranch are affected by interstate processes, so environmental objectives have not been developed by New South Wales for these rivers. This website only describes environmental objectives for NSW tributaries of the Murray.

In August 2002, the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council agreed on the WQOs for the River Murray. Download the Draft Provisional Water Quality Objectives - DraftMDBMCWQOs.pdf (pdf 67kb)

Border rivers

The NSW-Queensland border divides the Border Rivers catchment. In February 2004, a Statement of Principles for an Intergovernmental Agreement between New South Wales and Queensland was agreed to by the Border Catchments Ministerial Forum. this Intergovernmental Agreement will replace existing water sharing arrangements and will include environmental provisions and objectives. The agreement will also reflect current CoAG water reforms, MDBC agreements and national water arrangements.

Both states will give effect to these principles through their individual water resource plans (Water Sharing Plans in New South Wales and Water Resource Plans in Queensland). NSW has not determined environmental objectives for the Border Rivers at this stage – only for tributary streams entirely within NSW.

Culgoa, Birrie, Bokhara and Narran rivers

These rivers within the Barwon-Darling and Far Western Catchments depend on flows from the Condamine and Balonne rivers in Queensland. The Queensland Government has established a Water Resource Plan for this catchment. The NSW Government has not recommended interim river flow objectives for the Culgoa-Narran area at this stage, but water quality objectives are established for these streams.

Objectives for river flow, as well as for water quality, are recommended for the NSW parts of other streams intersected by the state border, such as the Paroo River. The Queensland Government has established Water Resource Plans for the Queensland parts of these catchments.

This page last updated 1 May 2006