Temporary pumping restrictions as drought continues

dried up lake bed

In an effort to support drought measures, WaterNSW has announced it will implement  temporary pump restrictions, including the imminent annual water allocation announcement on 1 July 2019.

A series of section 324 orders were gazetted by the NSW Government and came into effect on 1 July:

  • NSW Border Rivers—Trade and carryover restrictions (access restricted to 50 per cent)
  • Upper and Lower Namoi Rivers—Trade and carryover restrictions (Upper Namoi 75 per cent, Lower Namoi zero per cent)
  • Macquarie River—Trade and carryover restrictions (zero per cent)
  • Lachlan River—Trade and carryover restrictions (57 per cent)
  • Lower Darling—Extending existing arrangements whereby access is limited to critical needs, stock and permanent plantings only, to 30 June 2020, but with irrigation extraction to cease from Copi Hollow

The restrictions apply to water users in the state’s hardest hit northern river valleys, where intense drought has reduced dam inflows to record lows, and the Lachlan Valley in the state’s Central West.

The restrictions are required so that critical needs can be delivered within the valley. The suspended carryover water will be reserved in drought sub-accounts and made available when future inflows allow. Some trade is being suspended to ensure that suspended carryover water cannot be traded, while still allowing trade of any available water.

A series of information sessions by the Department of Industry (Water) and WaterNSW across regional areas in recent months has been advising stakeholders, including irrigators, industry and local government, of the likely water availability from 1 July 2019.

In some valleys, delivery of water orders to the lower reaches of the system may not be possible if the severity of the drought persists.

Where possible, priority will be given to high security licences held by large employers or important economic drivers, however town supply remains a top priority, according to WaterNSW executive manager system operations, Adrian Langdon.

“Water users have an obligation to ensure they are aware of the rule changes in the lead up to Monday’s water availability announcement by the NSW Government,” Mr Langdon said.

“This drought is among the worst on record as far as inflows go in some of our northern dams, and water authorities are taking the tough steps necessary to ensure that critical needs including town supplies continue to be met.”

WaterNSW is already undertaking urgent short-term capital works in the Peel and Macquarie valleys to extend supply if the drought persists, such as raising Warren weir to capture sufficient water and building temporary weirs (block-banks) on the Peel River to divert water via pipeline to Tamworth to reduce transmission losses and extend the city’s supply.

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