A NSW Government website

Water Infrastructure

Better Bidgee program

The NSW Government is investigating a range of initiatives for the Murrumbidgee River system as part of rescoping the Yanco Offtake project. These measures are part of a new Better Bidgee program (the program).

Following the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting in April this year, Water Infrastructure NSW has rescoped the Yanco Offtake Sustainable Diversion Limits Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) project and investigated options that could be supported by the community.

We have spent the past few months closely looking at the feedback received from the community over a number of years, particularly regarding the need to improve connectivity, environmental, cultural and community outcomes.

We know these issues can only be addressed by taking a holistic, system-wide approach to water infrastructure planning and operations, working in tandem with changes in water policy and strategy. We also know that feedback from our stakeholders and communities is critical to ensuring any initiatives we progress are the best options for delivering outcomes.

We have recently launched a major consultation and engagement program which will enable us to work side-by-side with communities to investigate solutions to create a Better Bidgee and outcomes for communities and the environment.

Options are currently being investigated, most of which are in very early planning stages. Community feedback and input will play a crucial role in shaping which initiatives are progressed, and what these initiatives look like, to deliver a Better Bidgee.

Initiatives being proposed

We are proposing a range of new and existing measures to deliver outcomes that we want to ensure are acceptable to our communities. Infrastructure improvements and operating rules are being considered to make the management of the Murrumbidgee River system more flexible, so the ecological function of its rivers and floodplains can be maintained and improved, and sustainable local communities, agriculture and industries are supported.

A key focus for the Better Bidgee program is improving native fish access to more than 1,000 km of the Murrumbidgee system by installing fishways at key blockages, addressing cold water pollution discharges from large dams, and installing screens on pumps and diversions that will save tens of millions of fish annually.

Download the Better Bidgee overview fact sheet (PDF, 1993.81 KB)

The key components/projects being investigated include:

Yanco Offtake - improved environmental outcomes

Reconnecting the Murrumbidgee (fish passage)

Addressing cold water pollution

Fish friendly water extraction

Gooragool and Mantangary lagoons 

Balranald Weir/Yanga Lake

Options map

The locations of the proposed initiatives making up the Better Bidgee program are shown in the map below.

Information sessions

Water Infrastructure NSW hosted a series of webinars in November to introduce the Better Bidgee program to stakeholders.

Better Bidgee recorded webinar

Learn more about the program with this recording of the information session from 8 November 2021.

Questions and answers

View answers to a range of questions asked by stakeholders during the webinar series, meetings and other interactions.

Download the questions and answers (PDF, 447.95 KB)

Stakeholder engagement

Communities will be at the heart of the Better Bidgee program, and we are committed to working in partnership to develop the program to deliver outcomes, with broad community support.

We will provide numerous opportunities for local communities and stakeholders to have their say on the design of the program and throughout the development and delivery phases of any projects. This feedback will be a key input into decision making and will help shape the program’s future design.

We are also keen to hear any alternative or additional ideas local communities may have to deliver economic, cultural and environmental outcomes for local communities and the environment across the Murrumbidgee system.

We will be contacting local communities soon to discuss the proposed ideas making up the Better Bidgee program. Upcoming engagement and partnering opportunities will be listed on this webpage and also on our stakeholder engagement page.

Engagement with First Nations people

We recognise and acknowledge the unique relationship and deep Connection to Country that First Nations people have as the Traditional Owners and first peoples of Australia.

The wisdom and experience of local First Nations communities will play a critical role in informing the development and approach to the Better Bidgee program. We have a dedicated engagement team who will guide our engagement with these communities, and we look forward to working with them to deliver real, tangible and widely accepted outcomes.

More information

For more information on the Better Bidgee program call 1300 081 047 or email our engagement team at better.bidgee@dpie.nsw.gov.au.