Annual environmental water priorities in the Gwydir catchment

Water managers will focus on protecting key water dependent assets, such as native fish communities, and supporting the resilience of rivers and wetlands in the Gwydir catchment.

Priorities for 2019–20

Warm, dry conditions are forecast for the Gwydir catchment. While the availability of planned water for the environment is likely to be low, reserves of held Commonwealth and NSW water, along with carryover, are low to moderate.

To maintain the resilience of wetlands and rivers, water managers will continue to protect core wetlands and priority river reaches of the Carole Creek, Mehi and Gwydir rivers. The aim is to maintain close to the current state of these assets until the current dry phase has passed. 

Significant rainfall and river flows would be required to initiate a small delivery of held water into either the Mallowa Creek or Gwydir Wetlands this season to support waterbirds and native vegetation. General, high security and supplementary licenses may be used for this purpose, however, on their own, are unlikely to be beneficial this season.

Currently, there are plans to provide water for basic needs in the Carole Creek, Mehi and Gwydir rivers to avoid total loss of fish communities during extended dry periods. In the event that early spring rainfall generates substantial river flows, water for the environment may be used to provide a small connectivity flow into the Barwon River.  

Further details on watering priorities for 2019–20 can be found in the Annual Environmental Watering Priorities 2019–20 (PDF 1.3MB).

Highlights from 2018–19

The Gwydir catchment and floodplain, west of Moree, has, since 2016, been subject to an extended dry period. Water for the environment has been used to support rivers and wetlands through this dry phase.

Water manager Daryl Albertson said during the 2018-19 water year, water for the environment was released into the Gwydir Wetlands systems and Mallowa Creek Watercourse. Water for the environment was also used to protect priority river reaches in the Carole, Mehi and Gwydir rivers from complete drying. A watering trial was conducted in the Ballin Bora Creek, an anabranch of the Mehi River.  

‘A flow was also delivered into the Mehi River to connect the Gwydir system with the Barwon River. This flow connected the northern rivers, improved water quality, and provided habitat and food sources for native fish’, Mr Albertson said.