Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
Gwydir River catchment annual water use options 2012-13
This factsheet provides an overview of Gwydir River catchment water use options for 2012-13. More detail about these options is on Annual Water Use Options 2012-13: Gwydir River Catchment.
The Gwydir River catchment contains the area from the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range near Armidale in northern NSW down to Kentucky Creek Dam near Uralla. The catchment is based around the Gwydir River, of which the Horton River is a major tributary.
Water availability for the Gwydir River catchment in 2012-13
Up to 112 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water will be available for use in the Gwydir River catchment during 2012-13. Up to 19.1 gigalitres of supplementary water may also be available. Information about the overall management of the Commonwealth environmental water holdings including options for carry over and trade can be found in the Portfolio management statement at Portfolio Management Statement 2012-13: Gwydir Portfolio management statement
What do we want to achieve in 2012-13?
The high inflows into the Gwydir River catchment during 2011 and 2012 are expected to keep key wetland areas wet and soil moisture levels high until late 2012. It is likely that these environmental conditions will delay the need for Commonwealth environmental water to be used during 2012-13.
If watering is required, this will continue the recovery of native plants and animals in river bank, floodplain and wetland areas. It will also contribute to efforts that connect the rivers within the catchment to its floodplain areas and improve water quality. These contributions aim to provide good quality habitat in which native plants and animals can successfully breed and grow.
To achieve these environmental benefits we will continue to work closely with staff from state agencies, industry and landowners within the catchment to ensure that the proposed water use options take into account operational and management considerations and local environmental conditions.
Why is environmental water required in the Gwydir River catchment?
The Gwydir River catchment requires environmental water to protect and restore its rivers, wetlands and floodplains. Environmental water provides more natural flow patterns to the Murray-Darling Basin river system, this in turn contributes to the wellbeing of regional communities who depend on sustainable water management to support healthy rivers, strong communities and productive economies.
This catchment includes the Gwydir Wetlands (Gingham and Lower Gwydir (Big Leather) Watercourses) which are wetlands of international importance. The catchment provides major breeding sites for waterbirds including intermediate egrets and straw-necked ibis. It also provides habitat for a number of migratory birds such as the Australian painted snipe. Native fish, including Silver perch, Murray cod and olive perchlet, and other native animals such as insects, frogs and reptiles also depend on a healthy Gwydir catchment for their survival. Marsh club-rush, water couch, river cooba, lignum, Coolibah and weeping myall woodlands are important native plants in this catchment.
Commonwealth environmental watering in 2012- 13 aims to build on the benefits of watering from previous years. Details about Commonwealth environmental watering events and outcomes from previous years can be found in our Annual Reports and Outcomes Reports at publication section.
Some options for environmental water use in the Gwydir River catchment
Examples of proposed watering options in this catchment during 2012-13 include:
- Watering of the Gwydir Wetlands including lower Gwydir, Gingham and Mallowa sites to contribute to the recovery of native plant communities and providing good quality habitat that enable waterbirds to successfully breed and grow.
- Flows to the Mehi River and Carole-Gil Gil Creek to contribute to the successful breeding of native fish.
How were the environmental water use options developed?
A range of annual water use options has been developed for each catchment where the Commonwealth holds environmental water.
All options have been developed based on advice from stakeholders including the Commonwealth's Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, State Water Corporation, Border Rivers and Gwydir Catchment Management Authority, Department of Primary Industries (NSW Office of Water) and local wetland managers, local water users and landholders. The views of local bodies such as the NSW Gwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Operations Advisory Committee have also been considered.
Each option contributes to meeting the overall environmental objectives of the Proposed Basin Plan – A revised draft, released on 28 May 2012. The options do not represent a commitment for water use. Decisions on Commonwealth environmental water use will be made throughout the year after an assessment of the seasonal, operational and management conditions at the time. Water use planning and operations will also be updated once the Basin Plan is made.
How can you be involved?
Local groups, state governments and others are working with us to manage Commonwealth environmental water by giving advice on where it can be best used and helping to deliver the water and to monitor outcomes. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office welcomes information from the community on how environmental water can best be managed including further suggestions on the water use options.
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For further information on the management and use of Commonwealth environmental water please visit publication section