AS reported in Tuesday’s Moree Champion, the Office of Water and Office of Environment and Heritage held a meeting with local landholders along the Gingham and Gwydir watercourses to here their concerns about the current water sharing plan.
The Moree Champion spoke with an Office of Water spokesperson following the meeting.
The spokeswoman said the aim of the meeting was to “provide an opportunity for government and the community to share ideas and discuss water management options in the Gwydir Valley, and for community to voice their concerns with government”.
“All government agencies felt that it was a constructive meeting,” she said.
Landholders raised concerns that due to the increased allocation of environmental water (up to 225,000ML) their farming land was being constantly inundated with environmental and Three Tributaries water.
They requested the environmental water either be held off or diverted until crops could dry out.
During the meeting the Office of Water said they were reluctant to divert the Three Tributaries water down either the Mehi or the Carole.
“The T3 rule is part of a broader water sharing plan that was developed following wide community consultation. We have heard the concerns of the landholders and the issue is broader than just the water sharing plan. We will now work with the feed back and the other government organisations to seek a way forward.”
Office of Environment and Heritage director of waters, wetlands and coast, Derek Rutherford, said he did not think the environmental flows had contributed to the current inundation of farmland.
“The most recent environmental flows managed by OEH in the Gwydir system were delivered this year from March to early May, to support tens of thousands of water birds that began breeding in the Gwydir Wetlands after natural inflows into the wetlands over summer,” he said.
“This water was delivered through the Gingham channel and did not cause, or contribute to, the current flows that are inundating crops.”
When asked why the water sharing plan could not be reviewed now in light of the increase in environmental water, the spokeswoman responded, “The NSW Office of Water is reluctant to change the WSP until its review in 2014, we will continue to work with the community to address the issues raised”.
Following the meeting the Office of Environment and Heritage has been looking at developing a ‘Gwydir Wetlands Plan’ to address the constant flooding.
“The strategy will involve landholders in considering the objectives for environmental water management and how these relate to land use at a property and floodplain level,” Mr Rutherford said.
“It is expected that potential opportunities for small scale works to improve environmental water and land management outcomes will be explored in the development of the strategy.”
He said the OEH expects to be consulting with landholders as part of the development of the strategy during September and October with the aim of having a draft strategy for broader consultation by November 30.