The assessment was commissioned after water restrictions were imposed on water take from rivers and floodplains to manage flows across the Northern NSW Murray-Darling Basin, following significant rainfall across NSW and Queensland in January and February 2020.
Independent Panel members Dr Wendy Craik and Greg Claydon have made recommendations to improve management of future first flush events, including with regard to:
- the communication of water restrictions to water users and the public
- decision making processes, including matters considered when applying the public interest test; and
- how prepared the Department of Planning and Environment - Water, WaterNSW and the Natural Resources Access Regulator were to manage the event.
As part of the assessment, the Independent Panel sought information from relevant state and federal agencies, a non-government water user reference group with representatives from industry, environmental interests, Aboriginal communities and Councils, and carried out two rounds of public consultation.