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Government abdicates responsibility for flood water harvesting in the Gwydir

The government has told landholders in the Gwydir to seek their own legal advice before diverting and capturing floodwaters that are likely to spill over the river’s banks in coming days. 

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment issued a statement at 6.30pm yesterday saying: 

There are reports of heavy rain in the Gwydir region which could lead to overland flows.  

Due to the disallowance of the government’s regulation amendment, which temporarily exempted certain floodplain works from licencing requirements, any landholder considering floodplain harvesting during this event may wish to seek their own legal counsel. [1] 

“Water authorities have basically abdicated their responsibility saying they don’t know what the rules are and advising landholders to get their own legal advice on whether to divert and capture floodwaters in private dams or not,” said Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian.  

"The NSW Parliament recently disallowed floodplain harvesting regulations and the Crown Solicitor told the government the practice was probably illegal under the Water Management Act unless a landholder has development consent and a water access licence, which many don’t. [2]  

"The government may have been annoyed at the disallowance of their regulation, but that does not mean they can ignore the parliament's decision and let irrigators choose their own adventure.   

“The department should actively protect flood waters from illegal capture so water can reach the Darling-Baaka River, which has stopped flowing at Bourke and is a puddle at Wilcannia. 

"Water that does not reach our rivers is just as important as water that gets sucked out of our rivers by irrigation pumps."  



[2] Floodplain harvesting likely illegal under NSW water management act, crown solicitor warns, The Guardian, 8-12-20   


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