Northern Basin Toolkit - Gwydir

Supporting the health of rivers, watercourses and wetlands.

What is the Northern Basin Toolkit?

The Northern Basin Toolkit is a collection of projects, or 'toolkit measures', that support the 70GL reduction of water recovery targets under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, agreed to by state and Australian governments. The Gwydir Constraints Measures Project (is one of a suite of projects funded through the toolkit aimed at supporting ecological and community outcomes.

The Gwydir Constraints Measures Project seeks to establish environmental water corridors in the Gwydir catchment in partnership with watercourse landholders. These water corridors will increase the efficiency of environmental water delivery, and through community consultation, a range of options, measures, and solutions will be identified and designed to achieve enduring environmental outcomes.

Which watercourses are involved?

The Gwydir Constraints Measures Project comprises of 3 areas:

  • Gingham Watercourse
  • Lower Gwydir Watercourse
  • Mehi River

The NSW Government is also developing a business case for Ballin Boora Creek.

Gwydir Constraints Measures Project map

Community gatherings

Online

The Gwydir Constraints Measures Project team will be working with the local community to develop a business case to seek significant funding from the Australian Government.

To ensure accessibility, we are running 2 additional community gatherings online:

Tuesday 3 August 11.00am – 1.00pm
Wednesday 4 August 4.00pm – 6.00pm
To register or for more information:
Phone: 0456 847 561
Email: gwydir.cmp@environment.nsw.gov.au

The northern Basin is home to a network of rivers and wetlands that support a unique mix of ecosystems and Australian wildlife. These ecosystems have evolved over thousands of years in response to the seasonal rainfall and flow patterns that feed the region's creeks, rivers, and wetlands.

River regulation has changed the way these rivers work. Water that once flowed freely across the floodplain after rain is now captured in storages for later use. High flows that inundate floodplain wetlands occur far less frequently. Opportunities for native fish, birds, and other wildlife to reproduce have been reduced. Creating water for the environment corridors is the best available tool to restore some of these flow patterns and help support the lifecycle requirements of the wildlife we all value.

Without improved effectiveness of environmental water, there is a risk that high value assets such as internationally recognised Ramsar sites and wetlands will deteriorate. In some instances, water is not reaching the extremities of these environmental assets, causing shrinkage in their size and water is not reaching these assets at key times or for long enough to allow wetland species to complete their lifecycles.

There are many co-benefits with creating increased environment water efficiencies, including economic, cultural, social and environmental.

Gwydir Constraints Measures Project infographic

Rivers and wetlands play a vital role in sustaining healthy communities and economies. Healthy rivers carry water to homes, farms, schools and businesses. Along the way, they nourish entire ecosystems and provide important habitat for native plants and animals. The benefits of healthy rivers extend well beyond the riverbank.

By creating environmental water corridors in the Gwydir catchment, we can enhance the outcomes of environmental watering and improve the efficiency of environmental water deliveries.

Additional benefits may include:

  • improved knowledge of flow passage and inundation extent
  • improved subsoil moisture along the flow path
  • flows that support native grass species to out-compete weed species
  • potential for more feed on private property.

The project will improve the passage, flow and distribution of moderate-sized flow events in the Lower Gwydir and Gingham watercourses. This means that:

  • flow duration and timing will better match wetland requirements
  • greater volumes of water will reach downstream Ramsar-listed wetlands
  • watercourses and rivers will be reconnected with dominant flow paths.

The project will also improve baseflows in the Ballin Boora Creek and Mehi River. This will improve the effectiveness of environmental water deliveries reaching water-dependent environmental assets in these systems, as well as improving the connectivity and capacity to deliver water from the Gwydir catchment to the Barwon-Darling system.

Improvements to the delivery of baseflows and moderate-sized flow events are expected to significantly contribute to ecological outcomes for native fish, waterbirds, native vegetation, ecological functions and other species in line with Murray-Darling Basin Plan targets.

For example, the project is expected to:

  • support instream and floodplain productivity
  • maintain and improve waterbird habitats
  • sustain native fish populations
  • maintain the extent and viability of flood-dependent vegetation.
Downstream of Gingham Bridge

A business case for implementation and funding of the Gwydir CMP is being prepared for the Australian Government and will be delivered by 15 November 2021.

Over the next few months, we will be working with the local community to develop the business case. There will be a series of local community gatherings and workshops to:

  • discuss project objectives and opportunities
  • bring local knowledge and community needs into the scoping of potential measures
  • create strategies for on-ground outcomes.

If the request for funding is successful, next year work will commence with individual landholders to design and implement the options, measures and solutions outlined in the business case.

Gwydir Constraints Measures Project timeline

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Energy, Environment and Science division is working in partnership with DPIE Water, and other water management agencies, to deliver the project. The department brings a wealth of expertise in the environmental water requirements of the Gwydir rivers and wetlands, along with a clear and measurable understanding of the benefits of creating environmental water corridors.

Local water managers will play a key role in informing and delivering the project. The department is supported through whole-of-government review at key points throughout the project.

The department will work with watercourse landholders and the Moree community to establish a water for the environment corridor that provides benefits to parties that operate within the watercourse. Multiple workshops will discuss opportunities, considerations and identify potential solutions and measures to include in the business case.

Get involved

Watercourse landholders

Watercourse landholders within the project area will be contacted directly via post and invited to community gatherings and workshops. Local gatherings will be held between July and September 2021.

Watercourse landholders were invited to community gatherings (19–23 July 2021) in Moree and Bullarah. The community gatherings are sessions designed to begin the discussion with watercourse landholders about the project.

Small localised workshops for adjoining neighbours will be held in August with watercourse landholders within the project area. Together we will discuss the opportunities, considerations and identify potential solutions and measures.

Due to COVID-19 requirements, numbers for each event will be limited; it is, therefore, important that watercourse landholders within the project area RSVP for these gatherings.

Gomeroi/Kamilaroi Community

The department will be working with the Gomeroi/Kamilaroi Community between July and September 2021 to discuss opportunities, considerations and potential solutions to include in the business case that benefit cultural connection, values and assets. To find out more about upcoming events, please contact us.

Broader community

Additional gatherings for the broader community may be held upon request. Please contact us to register your interest.

More information

Join our mailing list to receive information on community meetings, newsletters, and other information at different project stages.

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