Priorities for 2020–21
The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a shift toward wetter than average conditions and warmer than average temperatures through winter–spring 2020 in the Namoi catchment.
Despite a slight improvement in the storage volume of Keepit and Split Rock dams, the chance of another year with no water for the environment remains. In 2020–21, water managers will aim to focus efforts on supporting native fish populations in the Namoi and Peel rivers.
If the drought continues, the greatest risk in the Namoi will be the ability to provide flows that protect refuge habitat along the length of the lower Namoi River to Walgett. Supporting refuges will allow native fish species to survive and provide the breeding stock to help their populations recover once the drought breaks.
The Peel River continues to be managed under Stage 4 drought operations. To extend and secure the town water supply for Tamworth, it is proposed when Chaffey Dam is below 20%, to supply water to Tamworth via a pipeline. This will likely result in periodic cease-to-flow conditions in the Peel River below Chaffey Dam to Tamworth, and potentially to Caroll Gap. This presents a significant risk to native fish, platypus and other water dependent plants and animals.
Further details on watering priorities for 2020–21 can be found in the Annual Environmental Watering Priorities 2020–21 (PDF 3.1MB).
Highlights from 2019–20
In February 2020, after 10 months of cease-to-flow conditions in the regulated Namoi, a low-pressure system brought flows to the entire Namoi-Peel river system. These flows replenished water levels, refreshed water quality and boosted productivity. The flows supported riparian vegetation and inundated flood runners (warrambools) below Wee Waa.