A NSW Government website

Floodplain harvesting changes to balance needs

To reduce the risk of over allocation, the NSW Government has announced changes to take a more measured and sustainable approach to the licensing of floodplain harvesting.

The changes mean that floodplain harvesting shares in unregulated water sources will be reduced by up to 40 percent in the Namoi Valley, the last of the valleys in the Northern Basin to have floodplain harvesting licensing come into effect.

The changes have been carefully considered and follow community consultation, multiple independent expert reviews and recommendations from the 2021 Select Committee Inquiry.

This adjustment will improve water management ultimately helping ensure we are striking the right balance between the needs of the environment, water users throughout the river system and town water supply.

Beyond these changes, the NSW Government has also:

  • taken action to bring water take in the regulated Namoi Valley under legal limits by reducing supplementary access for Namoi water users.
  • established an independent Connectivity Expert Panel to provide advice on potential changes to access rules to ensure we get the balance right between upstream extractions and downstream requirements.
  • been investigating the most appropriate ways to implement temporary water restrictions on opportunistic forms of take in the Northern Basin to protect downstream users and the environment.

New rules will be added as amendments to the Namoi water sharing plans by June 2024 informed by early advice from the Connectivity Expert Panel, with the licensing framework to commence on 1 July 2024. For more information visit floodplain management.

Minister for Water Rose Jackson said:

“In NSW, water is our most precious resource, and we are committed to ensuring that we manage it sustainably and responsibly.

“I’ve listened carefully to the concerns raised by the community and that is why I am taking a more precautionary approach to the licensing of floodplain harvesting in the remaining water sources.

“I support the measurement and management of floodplain harvesting but we need to ensure we’re doing it right and not at the expense of our waterways and downstream communities, particularly given the impacts of emerging drought conditions.”

Aerial panaroma of Murray River near Moama, NSW, Australia
NSW Government has announced changes.