Moree and Goondiwindi communities invited to consultation on water availability and drought outlook

NSW Department of Industry - Water and WaterNSW held a public consultation in Moree in February.
NSW Department of Industry - Water and WaterNSW held a public consultation in Moree in February.

The Moree and Goondiwindi communities are invited to attend information sessions about the drought and water availability next week.

The NSW Department of Industry - Water and WaterNSW will be holding a series of public information sessions in drought impacted regions across the state.

The sessions will provide an update on water availability, groundwater and the proposed measures to help manage the river systems if the dry conditions persist.

The Border Rivers and Gwydir have been changed to stage three (severe) drought status, while the Barwon-Darling continues on the highest level, stage four (critical).

This indicates a growing shortfall in water supplies and the need for temporary drought measures.

NSW Department of Industry - Water drought coordinator Michael Wrathall said we are now in unprecedented territory.

"NSW water storages continue to fall with close to 100 per cent of the state now affected by drought," he said.

"We need to protect the remaining water in our river systems as there is no significant rain or inflows predicted.

"Water availability across the Murray-Darling Basin remains low, particularly in the northern-inland and far west regions. A number of valleys have seen inflows below previous record lows. Our priority is to ensure that sufficient water is available for critical water needs."

Mr Wrathall said stage four drought status means that we need to consider significant restrictions and other measures consistent with the NSW Extreme Events Policy.

"Landholders and communities need information about water availability so they can plan ahead, and that's what these consultations are all about," he said.

Water NSW will also be meeting with members of the River Operations Stakeholder Consultative Committee (ROSCCo) immediately before or after the public information sessions, executive manager system operations Adrian Langdon confirmed.

"Given the urgency of the drought situation in these valleys, WaterNSW has timed its stakeholder updates alongside the community meetings to minimise the amount of travel faced by attendees of both sessions," he said.

"The feedback we receive is that water authorities must consider the amount of travel involved in attending meetings, especially on topics as critical as drought, and coordinate our sessions more effectively."

A session will be held in Goondiwindi for members of the Border Rivers community to attend on Thursday, May 23. The session will be held at the Jolly Swagman Motor Inn, 2-4 Anderson Street, Goondiwindi from 12pm to 2pm.

There will also be a session held in Moree the following day, on Friday, May 24 at the Max Centre, Level 1, 30 Heber Street, Moree from 12pm to 2pm.

These information sessions follow-on from public drop-in water consultations, held in February.