Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association urges all impacted people to attend floodplain harvesting consultation

A floodplain harvesting consultation was held in Moree last December.
A floodplain harvesting consultation was held in Moree last December.

With further floodplain harvesting consultations occurring from this week, Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA) encourages all local people affected by the new policy to attend a session or webinar.

On Friday night, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), Water Division released their final version of their Independent Review of Floodplain Harvesting Policy Implementation as well as the NSW Government's Floodplain Harvesting Action Plan to respond to this advice.

As a result, public consultation on these documents began in Narrabri on Monday, September 9, with additional sessions to be held across the state over the coming week.

GVIA executive officer Zara Lowien said it's important that anyone in NSW that has a dam that can collect rainfall runoff from across their farm, considers attending a consultation session or the webinar on September 18.

"We are informing everyone with on-farm infrastructure to consider attending an event as effective consultation must be broader than just those who have engaged in the licencing program to-date," she said.

"This program is no longer about only those who would traditionally consider themselves farmers that accesses a portion of water that has broken out of a river and is flowing across a floodplain. That's because the NSW Government's current position is that anyone who collects and impedes this water as well as excess rainfall runoff from their farm (not currently calculated via an exemption or licence), is now floodplain harvesting.

"This definition means that the term floodplain harvesting is not only relevant for those in the northern NSW valleys, where the healthy floodplains program is initially being implemented but it is state-wide.

"We suspect it is why the consultation locations now include other regions, outside those valleys where the project is being implemented."

The consultation sessions will include more information about proposed new monitoring arrangements for storages as part of the Floodplain Harvesting Action Plan for implementing floodplain harvesting and rainfall licencing.

"It's important that everyone is aware of the precedent being proposed for the northern valleys because as a state-wide policy it must apply across the state," Ms Lowien said.

"This new monitoring strategy implicates every farmer with on-farm infrastructure, like a dam, that can collect rainfall that runs-off their farm, to use at a later time.

"NSW has not clearly explained these broader implications for farmers outside of the targeted five northern valleys and, given the significance of the new work program to be announced, it's important that all impacted farmers have an opportunity to be consulted on your future monitoring, reporting and compliance requirements when collecting excess rainfall within your farm."

There will be consultations held in Dubbo (September 10), Deniliquin (September 12), Dareton (September 13), and one in Sydney on Wednesday, September 18 which will be webcast.

GVIA have requested that regional DPIE offices be set up to access the webinar on Wednesday for those that cannot make one of the other locations. The GVIA officer will be set up with the webinar for GVIA members.