Government initiatives for managing environmental water

Government initiatives help ensure that available water resources are shared appropriately in the face of climate variability and increasing water demand.

Water for the environment is managed consistent with a range of NSW and Commonwealth legislative and policy initiatives, including:

Within this legislative and policy framework government has successfully completed a range of programs to protect the environmental values of wetlands and rivers, including:

These programs have included actions such as:

  • water purchasing
  • infrastructure investment to deliver water for the environment
  • landholder partnerships
  • research
  • monitoring.

Regulation of water for the environment

Water for the environment can be categorised as:

  1. ‘Planned’ environmental water allocated within statutory water sharing plans
  2. ‘Held’ environmental water allocated to water licenses held for environmental use.

Within this regulatory framework the use of water for the environment is managed according to annual and long term water plans within each catchment and a number of other government plans and policies.

Planned water for the environment

Planned water for the environment is allocated through water sharing plans under the NSW Water Management Act 2000. Water sharing plans establish rules for sharing water between the environment and different types of water users. Within water sharing plans there are a number of rules and triggers for the use of planned water for the environment. Water is allocated periodically according to inflows and dam levels.

Held water for the environment

Held water for the environment has been recovered through infrastructure works and the purchase of water licences. Both the NSW and Commonwealth governments (through the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder) have purchased water licences for environmental purposes. Water is allocated periodically according to inflows and dam levels. The regulations for the use of licensed water are contained in water sharing plans and license conditions and associated ‘adaptive’ environmental water-use plans. The former NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has prepared the following 'adaptive' environmental water-use plans:

Northern Basin Toolkit – Gwydir Constraints Measures Project

Mallowa Coolibah WetlandsThe Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) – Energy, Environment and Science (EES) division is working in partnership with DPIE – Water and other water management agencies to deliver the project.

The project will:

  • address physical constraints to improve how water reaches environmental assets through channels and low-lying flood runners and wetlands
  • establish a delivery pathway that facilitates flexible water flow scenarios to environmental assets at key times of year.

The project focuses on the:

  • Lower Gwydir watercourse
  • Gingham watercourse
  • Mallowa watercourse.

The project will also consider the:

  • Mehi River
  • Ballin Boora Creek.

As part of the Gwydir Constraints Measures Project, several options are being considered, including:

  • establishing delivery pathways at different flow rates
  • modifying or removing works disconnecting dominant watercourses.

The project is currently at the feasibility phase and options to relax constraints will vary depending on the outcomes from the ecological prioritisation assessment process.

The community will be engaged throughout the project to ensure that third-party impacts from potential constraint relaxed scenarios are identified and addressed. Community information sessions will be provided over the coming months to provide information on the project status and scope.

For more information visit the DPIE Water information portal.