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Topics from the November 2022 webinar include floodplain management and an update on the regional water strategies.

Macintyre River.

Water Engagement Roundup

Collateral from the webinar on Wednesday, 16 November 2022.

Watch the webinar

16 November 2022 – A webinar was held and the topics covered included floodplain management, regional water strategies and general water enquiries,

Questions and answers

The following are questions by topic asked from the registration and during the Water Engagement Roundup webinar.

Floodplain management

What is the Lower Namoi Floodplain harvesting modelling timeframe?

A. The Department is in the final stages of getting ready to commence public consultation process on the Namoi. Modelling reports have been released with the draft rules on 1 December 2022.

The webinar for Namoi was held on 6 December 2022 and public engagement at Wee Waa on 13 December 2022. At these engagement sessions we talked about the draft rules. It was also an opportunity to talk through the revised modelling assessments.

What progress is being made with the removal of 'hot spot' structures?

A. The Department has almost completed the preliminary assessment phase of this program for the Border Rivers catchment – which is being treated as a pilot.

It is expected that broad community consultation will start in the middle of next year and from that stage we expect those works that have been identified in the removal pathway, to start to see some action.

Compliance actions will be at the discretion of the NRAR Board as the independent regulator.

Quarters (in regard to target timeframes consultations etc.) are they financial water year quarters or calendar year?

A. They are based on calendar year quarters. Quarter one being January to March; Quarter two being April to June; Quarter three being July to September, Quarter four being October to December.

How will a works approval for floodplain harvesting impact on the assessment of works under the Improving Floodplain Connections (IFC) program?

A. Water supply works used for floodplain harvesting that impact on flood flow distribution, will require both a water supply work and a flood work approval.

A water supply work will not be issued for any structure that requires a flood work approval and does not have one. Priority unapproved flood works are being targeted under the Improving Floodplain Connections (IFC) program.

Where Flood Plain Management identifies works to be removed to allow flows to, for example, go to wetlands, what assessment/requirements fall on neighbours that may now be vulnerable to be flooded as water is behind their legal levees, or neighbours that are now unprotected.

A. We are preparing regional scale modelling impact assessments to take to broad public consultation so all stakeholders and affected landholders can see both the impacts and benefits associated with the modification/removal of priority unapproved flood works.

A key component of these impact assessments will be looking at the change to flood flow distribution on neighbouring properties. Communication with affected landholders will continue throughout the removal and modification pathways.

Will the outcomes of the Improving Floodplain Connections (IFC) project cause a review of floodplain management plans?

A. It is possible that outcomes of the Improving Floodplain Connections program may trigger a review of the zones in floodplain management plans.

Whether this is picked up through the 10-year review cycle or whether the likely changes are substantial enough to warrant an amendment process is unclear at this stage.

Who decides what works can be applied, and the criteria for approval, as environmental or cultural improvement works in these newly designated areas proposed in the floodplain management plan? What is the process and who pays for it now all flood work approval assessments are user paid?

A. The proposed works need to demonstrate enhancement to an identified ecological, cultural, or heritage asset on the floodplain. The application and assessment process is similar to that for all other flood works.

They are paid for by the applicant and assessed by Water NSW. Referral/input from NSW Department of Planning and Environment - Environment and Heritage will be sought by Water NSW as part of the assessment process for these works.

If works are required to be removed or modified is the landholder to do this at their own cost or are there financial incentives to complete the required works.

A. Yes, the landholder is required to complete works at their own cost. This process is designed to provide some assistance to landholders with the objective of bringing works into compliance as quickly as possible.

For those works that are identified in the modification pathway, the Department will help and work alongside the landholder to complete the assessments required to get those modifications through the approval process, but the actual on ground physical construction costs will belong to the landholder.

I realise that Mirool Creek near Griffith NSW is not on the agenda, there are levy banks that have been erected that are causing increase flooding to some farmers. These farmers are doing the correct thing, only to lose crops and permanent plantings during the current flooding, as growers can’t access properties to spray vineyards. What can be done about this, what timeline are we looking at?

A. The Department can confirm that Mirool Creek is not on the priority list for floodplain management plans in the South. It is important to stress however that irrespective of there being a floodplain management plan in place, you do need approval for works that impact the flow of water to or from a river or creek even if you're not on a floodplain. There are background default controls under the Water Management Act 2000 to regulate those activities.

If you are aware of levy banks that are impacting the movement of flood water and do not have an approval, it is recommended that you contact the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) on 1800 633 362.

The Department acknowledges that a floodplain management plan for Mirool Creek would be preferable. However, in the short term it is not considered a high priority. It is anticipated that within the next 5 years, it will be able to identify further areas where floodplain management plans can be developed.

Are floodplains & wetlands in the floodplain management plan reviewed often?

A. Floodplains are declared under the Water Management Act 2000. When a floodplain management plan is developed, there is a process followed that looks at the boundaries of the floodplain and makes sure that they reflect the extent of flooding with the available information on hand. This process is generally done at the start of developing a plan and would be revisited through the normal review process, or if a request was made. There's quite a bit of information, technical manuals, and other things on the department website which describe the process of defining the boundary for the floodplain for the purposes of developing floodplain management plans.

Floodplain management plans are reviewed approximately halfway through their 10-year term. As part of the review, the accuracy of the information contained in the plan, such as the identified wetlands and other flood dependent ecological assets are assessed.

How will the current scale of flooding extremes and planning for climate change impacts be considered in floodplain management plan processes?

A. The Department’s floodplain management planning generally relies on design floods: a small design flood and a large design flood. The extent of current flooding may change the extent of the Departments large design flood that is used for floodplain management planning modelling. This will be reviewed and assessed when the new information comes in.

Regarding climate change, the Department is working on a range of technical development and how this can be considered in the floodplain management plan modelling space as well.

The map of the southern plan does not include "new areas" outside the river itself. Realistically will there be new areas included, such as Bland Creek to Lake Cowal, that contribute significantly to the Lachlan River floodplain management plan?

A. The development of a floodplain management plan involves setting the floodplain boundary and that will be subject to consultation outcomes. This will most likely include new areas that are not currently a declared floodplain.

This process will ensure there is an opportunity for people to have their say.

Regional water strategies

There is some confusion over the Lachlan RWS consultation

A. The draft Lachlan Regional Water Strategy was placed on public exhibition in October/November 2022. Engagement activities were postponed and eventually cancelled due to the significant flooding impacting the region during the period and the community’s capacity to effectively engage and provide feedback.

The department intends to publish a consultation report in December 2022, which will summarise the feedback that was received during the period.

It is intended that engagement will continue throughout early 2023, and the draft strategy will be re-exhibited in mid-2023. This exhibition will include a range of consultation activities. Finalisation of the strategy and implementation plan is expected in mid-2023.


Can we have email details for further questions?

A. If you have feedback on the services provided by the department or questions about upcoming events, contact us via email: water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au Or by phone: 1300 081 047

For specific floodplain management enquiries email: floodplain.harvesting@dpi.nsw.gov.au