7th December 2023
The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC), the state’s leading environmental advocacy organisation, has today congratulated the Minns Government, and commended Minister for Water Rose Jackson on the decision to reign in floodplain harvesting in the Namoi Valley.
The Minister announced today that floodplain harvesting licences to be issued in the Namoi Valley will reduce the volume of water currently taken by up to 40 percent.
Floodplain harvesting is the practice of using levee banks to divert water from the floodplain into private dams.
This practice captures natural flowing water that would otherwise have become a public asset supporting community recreation, fishing and the environment, it has increased by 2.4 times in the Darling-Baaka since the 1990s.
“After listening to the community and the evidence, Minister Jackson has thrown a lifeline to the people of downstream river towns like Narrabri, Walgett, Wilcannia and Menindee” Mel Gray, NCC Water Campaigner said today.
“The evidence is overwhelming that floodplain harvesting needs to be scaled right back to sustainable levels. The NSW Parliamentary inquiry into floodplain harvesting found that ‘floodplain harvesting significantly impacts on downstream flows and river health, with economic, social, cultural and environmental consequences’.
“Namoi Valley is the only valley where floodplain harvesting licences are not yet issued. This has allowed the Minister to ensure the huge, multinational irrigator consortiums who have constructed extensive earthworks and helped themselves to this water for decades can no longer simply take as much of this floodwater as they can capture.
“This is also a win for communities and the many farmers who are opposed to the building of hundred kilometre long dams walls to capture floods, or who rely on flood water to replenish the rich floodplains they graze stock on.
“Wetlands are shrinking faster than any other ecosystem in the world. As we enter another period of extended drought, it’s critical that we continue to reverse the many egregious examples of policy without evidence that is the legacy of the former government.
“Floodplain harvesting strangles our rivers and starves our wetlands – the floodplains are still crossed with miles of illegally constructed levee banks.
“The Inspector General of Water Compliance received more powers last week when the Restoring Our Rivers Bill was passed in the Federal parliament to address these scars on the landscape.
“Governments right now have a choice to make. We can deliver enough water to the Murray-Darling Basin, or people will run out of drinking water and our ecosystems will die.
“If the Murray Darlin Basin collapses 70% of NSW and 2 million people’s home becomes uninhabitable
Media contact: Clancy Barnard
E: [email protected] Ph: 0438 869 332
Note: NCC Water Campaigner Mel Gray is available for comment on request