Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association welcomes NSW Floodplain Harvesting Measurement Policy

Thalaba floodplain during the February floods.
Thalaba floodplain during the February floods.

Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA) are has welcomed the announcement of the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Measurement Policy 2020, which provides one of the missing pieces to understand how NSW plans to manage this access under a licencing regime.

The new policy was released on August 6, while the new licencing regime will be implemented by July 1, 2021 in the Gwydir Valley.

GVIA executive officer Zara Lowien said they have been calling on the policy for some time, so that water users have due time to meet their obligations.

"The policy is an ambitious program but an important step forward in water management that our local industry has for a long time been committed to achieve," she said.

"We already have around 20 percent of the storages in the valley monitored via electronic devices with telemetry as part of their exiting on-farm water management, this policy will require the remaining storages which are used to store overland flow to be progressively measured from July 2021.

"It's important we can measure and account for overland flow like all other forms of water and the most practical and effective approach is via storage devices, as all water on a farm ends up here regardless of how it is accessed.

"We fully support this approach, to better account and report overland flow take during a flood event.

"The way NSW managed the February flood in our region and the mis-informed debate thereafter, clearly highlights, if you can't measure it you can't manage it.

"It's time NSW Government moves forward in improving their management, not just our farmers.

"To help with this, we commit to fast-tracking the achievement of the measurement requirements, provided there is capacity to supply devices and qualified installers."

This announcement is an important piece of the puzzle for NSW in managing overland flow, as they continue to step towards licencing also due in July 2021.

"This is a historical take and the last in our region, to be transitioned from the old Water Act (1912) into the current water management framework," Ms Lowien said.

"It's a long-awaited process and in completing this 20-year commitment, NSW will have new tools to manage and improved accountability of this important but irregular form of take in our region.

"Better regulation of overland flow is essential, industry and our community demand it. It will have benefits to farmers and their communities everywhere that rely on a share of these flows.

"This policy will help to capture the missing facts on what is taken during a flood, giving confidence to the community that everyone receives their fair share of these events, no more or no less and that NSW continues to meet its obligations for the Basin Plan."

For more information see GVIA's page on Floodplain Flow and Licencing or the NSW Department of Industry Floodplain Harvesting page.