Gwydir River getting healthy boost of water

December 3, 2007

Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water Phil Koperberg last Friday announced 10,000 million litres of water is being released in North NSW’s Gwydir River to improve the health of the environment.

We are in the midst of the worst drought in recorded history. Most creeks and rivers in regional NSW are drying up, so releasing water specifically for the environment when conditions allow, is vital.” he said.

A total of 10,000 million litres is currently being released from the Copeton Dam for a period of 20 days. “These flows will make their way down the Gwydir River and into the internationally significant Gwydir Wetlands, one of the largest wetlands in inland NSW.

By releasing this water now, we will ensure the natural wetting and drying cycle of these wetlands are enhanced and extended.“It will also help support native fish populations and habitat durng the spring-summer breeding season.”

Minister Koperberg said the NSW Government will monitor the ecological response to the water releases providing valuable data for research projects conducted by the Department of Water and Energy (DWE), Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) and the University of New England.

“The monitoring will also help detect if any water is diverted illegally however I don’t expect there to be any problems, he said. The water being released is coming from Copeton Dam’s Environmental Contingency Allowance (ECA) account and will not affect water allocations for local irrigators or stock and domestic users.

When establishing the Water Sharing Plan for the Gwydir Regulated River Water Source, we set up the ECA account to save a portion of water for the health of the environment.

Earlier this year, two separate ECA releases of approximately 5000 million litres each were delivered to the Lower Gwydir and Gingham Wetlands both of which will also benefit from this latest release.”

Minister Koperberg said the Gwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Operations Advisory Committee requested the altest environmental release in line with its objective of restoring natural flows through its Annual Release Program.

“The Gwydir ECA Annual Release Program 2007-2008 is the first of its kind in NSW. It will act as the benchmark for the accountability and sustainable management of environmental flows throughout the state.”

He said “Sadly this drought is far from over. We will continue to be prudent in managing NSW’s water resources and make more water available for licence holders and the environment when and if conditions allow.”

More information on the Gwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Committee and the ECA Annual Release Program is available on the Department of Water and Energy website at http:// www.naturalresources.nsw.gov.au/water/reversgwydireca.shtml