Action 3.3 Take action to address threats to native fish
The NSW Government will deliver three state-wide, catchment scale initiatives to address key threats to native fish populations. We will:
|implement the NSW Fish Passage Strategy
|address cold water pollution through interventions such as temperature monitoring, new operating protocols and cold water pollution mitigation technology at priority dams where cold water impacts are severe
|invest in fish-friendly water extraction technology at priority sites, guided by the regional water strategies.
Reconnecting NSW: the NSW Fish Passage Strategy
The NSW Fish Passage Strategy has been developed by the NSW Ministerial Task Force on Fish Passage to deliver a coordinated, strategic approach to fish passage remediation. The strategy is a 20-year plan to restore unimpeded fish passage to 165 high priority weirs, which will significantly improve native fish access to nearly 9,000 km of mainstream rivers and key off-channel habitats below all major storage dams in the state.
Fish passage remediation is an investment in infrastructure that delivers benefits for asset owners, the community and the environment. A key attribute of fish passage remediation work is that it does not require additional water to deliver these benefits.
Source: Map produced by NSW Industry - Lands and Water, August 2016
NSW also produces a River Condition Index that assesses and compares river health across the state. Figure 17 shows the most recent index (2012).
Source: Map produced by NSW Industry - Lands and Water, 16 March 2012
Action 3.7 Work with communities to better understand and improve system connectivity
The Government will take a community-driven and transparent approach to explore ways to improve the flows between hydrologically connected rivers and valleys across inland NSW. We will:
|develop principles and a clear statement about how NSW will increase connectivity across regions of the Murray-Darling Basin
|explore options to improve connectivity between catchments
|develop decision-making support tools and frameworks to better inform water sharing decisions across connected water resources, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin
|implement the actions in the NSW Government’s response to the Independent Panel Assessment of the Management of the 2020 Northern Basin First Flush Event.
Case study: Northern Connectivity Event 2018
We trialled protection of held environmental water - Northern Connectivity Event
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office partnered with a number of NSW agencies to release and manage 32.2 GL of environmental water to build on natural inflows and provide for connectivity across multiple river systems to protect and support native fish.
Temporary restrictions on water take were put in place to ensure the environmental water flowing instream was protected to benefit the environment and communities along the river. Spanning April to June 2018, the event involved flows over 2,000 km of river channels. It also involved extensive and targeted consultation with local landholders, irrigators, shire councils, traditional owners and various interest groups.
A review of the event found that no illegal water take occurred during the Northern Connectivity Event. This was thanks to the NRAR’s on-the-ground compliance operations. Flows through the Barwon-Darling river system exceeded expectations and targets, passing through Wilcannia and reaching Menindee on 1 July 2018. The trial use of satellite imagery by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority also proved to be a useful additional tool in monitoring the event.
In addition to providing significant environmental benefits, the event will inform future policy, planning and operational decision-making.