Members are drawn from a range of local interest groups to provide advice on planning, management and monitoring of water for the environment in the mid and lower Macquarie valley.
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) senior wetlands and rivers conservation officer Tim Hosking said the EWAG gave community members a very real chance to make a difference to the river system.
'Members – both community and government – really value that,' Mr Hosking said.
'The Macquarie has been a leader in water for the environment in Australia, with releases from Burrendong Dam to benefit the Macquarie River and Macquarie Marshes since the early 1980s.
'The EWAG was formed in 2000 and formalised in 2004, though the community has had a role in decision-making since the late 1990s.
'Members have contributed to meeting the river's needs across a wide variety of weather conditions and water availability – from the millennium drought through to the 2010 floods and back to the comparatively dry conditions of 2013-14.
'The EWAG is called upon to make highly complex decisions – particularly during drier years – that affect the health and resilience of rivers and wetlands throughout the catchment.'
The EWAG brings together a range of interested groups including representatives from the Aboriginal community, NSW Local Land Services, Cudgegong Valley Water Users, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Nature Conservation Council/Inland Rivers Network, Macquarie Effluent Creeks Association, Macquarie Marshes Environmental Landholders Association, Macquarie River Food and Fibre, Office of Environment and Heritage, Water NSW, and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (observer status).
The group is chaired by Ian Rogan, a Central Tablelands Local Land Services board member and agricultural scientist, who has a strong interest in the equitable sharing of water between the environment and extractive water users.
'The EWAG provides a formal mechanism for all stakeholders with an interest in water management to be consulted and have input into the planning, management and monitoring of water for the environment in the catchment,' Mr Rogan said.
Mr Rogan believes one of the group's main priorities is to provide clearer communications on the use and management of water for the environment.
The EWAG provides advice to the OEH on the management of water from a number of sources, including:
- the Environmental Water Allowance (EWA) made available under the Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated Rivers Water Source 2016
- Environmental Water trigger windows for the Regulated Cudgegong River made available under the Macquarie and Cudgegong Regulated Rivers Water Source 2016
- Adaptive Environmental Water (AEW) held by the OEH
- Environmental entitlements (General Security and Supplementary) held by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO)