Farmers are frustrated over years of delays for the Wyangala Dam wall raising project

ABC Central West / By Hugh Hogan March 22nd, 2023


With the state election this weekend, NSW Labor said it needed more details before it could commit to the project.

“We don’t know what it’s going to cost. We don’t know clearly what the benefits are. We don’t know what the environmental impacts are going to be,” Labor water spokesperson Rose Jackson said.

“What Labor is doing is being honest about the processes that we’re going to follow … we haven’t seen the documentation, we haven’t seen the business case so we’re unable to make commitments.”

Environmental concerns

Not everyone is in support of the project which could have a price tag north of $2 billion.

Bev Smiles from the Inland Rivers Network said the environmental cost, including reduced water for wetlands, was too high.

“It captures the really important floods for the wetlands in the Lachlan Valley that are listed on the national list of important wetlands,” she said.

Ms Smiles said a bigger dam would not have had any effect on last year’s floods as operators were currently required to store as much water as possible for downstream users.

“New South Wales really needs to look closely at its dam management policy both for critical human needs in extreme drought … and the way they currently manage dams to keep them full as much as possible,” she said.

Full story here

Water recovery and ‘over recovery’ in the Macquarie valley

The NSW Coalition government and the local fibre growing industry groups are making a controversial claim – that there is too much water in the Commonwealth’s environmental water accounts in the Wambuul/Macquarie and Gwydir catchments.

So how can the claim be made that these rivers are ‘over-recovered’, when the internationally significant wetlands they contain are rapidly declining?

This is a tale of how the convoluted nature of water management, and the deceitful abuse mathematical formulas and data can score you a big payday, if you’re prepared to stoop that low.

If you think it’s ludicrous to suggest that rivers can be too recovered, then please, read on!

Growing calls for water recycling in drought-prone regional cities

ABC News

February 17, 2023

Parts of regional Australia are experiencing a population boom, but there are concerns some of the fast-growing inland cities are ill-equipped for the next drought.

Some of the communities which ran out of water, or came close, at the height of the last drought are growing impatient for solutions and want water recycling to be among the options.

More Information


Simon Murray, former mayor, Armidale Regional Council
Graham Carter, Tamworth Water Security Alliance 
Kevin Anderson, Tamworth MP and NSW Water Minister

Dungowan Dam Summary Business Case

The proposed Dungowan Dam & Pipeline project is a National Party promise for the electorate of Tamworth. It is economically unviable and has been questioned by Infrastructure NSW and the Federal Productivity Commission.

The summary of the final business case passed by NSW Cabinet in March 2022 demonstrates bias and a lack of analysis of alternative options to secure Tamworth water supply under future climate change predictions.

Darling/Baaka sacrificed for northern irrigators

Thursday 11 August 2022

Inland Rivers Network condemns the NSW Coalition Government and the Shooters Fishers
Farmers Party for sacrificing the health of the Darling/Baaka and its dependent communities
through poor regulation of floodplain harvesting in northern NSW.
Spokesperson for Inland Rivers Network, Brian Stevens:
‘The volumes of water handed out in new entitlements to allow the capture of rainfall runoff
before it enters rivers, and the capture of important medium flood flows, will continue the
destruction of the Darling/Baaka River.’
‘The rules gazetted in water sharing plans for the Border Rivers, Gwydir and Macquarie
Valleys allow for 500% accumulation of entitlement access and no triggers to stop access to
rainfall runoff and flood flows until Menindee Lakes are at a critical low level of 195 GL
(billion litres). The disastrous fish kills of 2019/20 occurred when Menindee Lakes held over
300 GL.’
‘The NSW Coalition and the Shooters Fishers Farmers Party have condemned the
Darling/Baaka to longer periods of dry riverbed with stagnant slimy pools. This decline in river
health started when floodplain harvesting exploded upstream during the 1990’s.’
‘The NSW Government has rewarded decades of unsustainable and unregulated water use with
new licences while conducting no assessment of the downstream impacts on Darling/Baaka
communities, native fish populations, groundwater recharge and important wetland areas.’
‘The future of the Darling/Baaka and its important connectivity with the lower Murray through
the Menindee Lakes is now under dire threat.’

Submission Guide – Floodplain harvesting rules for the Barwon-Darling water sharing plan

Submission Guide: Barwon-Darling Floodplain Harvesting (FPH) Rules

Deadline: Friday 8 July 2022


Documents available at:


The Barwon-Darling River was identified by the Natural Resources Commission as suffering ecological collapse during recent intense drought conditions. The 2012 Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan attributed 16.5 GL (gigalitre = 1 billion litres) to FPH extraction. This volume was used in the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The proposed new entitlements are above this volume. Extraction from the Barwon-Darling has breached the Basin Plan Sustainable Diversion Limit in 2019 and 2020. The proposed management of FPH in the Barwon-Darling must not lock in individual property history of use.

Key Submission Points (use your own words & additional points)

  1. VOLUME: The volume of FPH to be licensed is estimated to be 51.32 GL (or unit shares), as identified in the Community Assistance Report. This differs greatly from the figures used in the modelled scenarios. There is no confidence in the information provided for FPH assessment or proposed entitlement in the Barwon-Darling River.
  2. Do not support that new FPH licenses will keep extraction below the Plan Limit
  3. Do not support the rainfall runoff exemption – this is free water that must be accounted for
  • Do not support 500% carryover – will cause loss of key flood flows for downstream benefits to wetlands, cultural values, groundwater recharge, basic rights, and town water supply.
  • Support annual accounting with no carryover – there is no rationale for this causing larger entitlements other than faulty policy favoring history of use
  • Support that initial allocation is 1 ML unit share or less depending on antecedent conditions
  • Support that annual allocation is 1 ML unit share or less, as above
  • Do not support any trading of FPH entitlement – it is likely to cause environmental and cultural damage – this fails to meet the requirements of trading rules
  • No works in Floodplain Management Plan Zone A and D should be licensed to take FPH
  • No lagoons or natural drought refugia should be licensed to take FPH
  • No FPH works licenses should be granted until all unapproved and floodplain ‘hotspot’ works are removed or modified.
  • Support no access under resumption of flow rules – these must be stronger to protect higher end-of-system flows in Barwon-Darling tributaries: Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi, Macquarie
  • Strongly object to no FPH access target of below 195 GL in Menindee Lakes until forecast of at least 4,000 ML at Wilcannia. This offers no drought protection and will cause ecological damage. A target of 450 GL in Menindee is needed with higher forecast upstream flows.
  • PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL WATER: Rules must protect held environmental water inflows from Queensland and NSW northern tributaries.
  • AMENDMENTS: Support strong amendment provisions for all FPH management rules to enable rule changes without triggering compensation

Contact: for more information

Please include name, address and contact details. Identify if you want your submission published or if you want anonymous publication.

Tallywalka Creek in far west NSW flows for first time in a decade, as floodwaters trickle down

ABC Broken Hill / By Bill Ormonde 8 March 2022

For the first time in more than 10 years, a creek stretching 100km across far west New South Wales is full of water.
Key points:
  • The 100km-long Tallywalka Creek has been dry for more than 10 years
  • Floodwaters from heavy rain in northern NSW and south east Qld last year have made their way into the system, causing the creek to flow again
  • Locals are rejoicing but would like to see more water on the floodplains along the lower Darling

Read Article Here

Image Emma Hollows and Beverly Smiles – 2011

Calls for Dungowan Dam Business Case to be Released

Inland Rivers Network President Beverley Smiles talks to Patrick Bell on ABC New England Monday 28th February 2022.

Questions about the cost of Dungowan dam are being asked by the community – how much will the Dungowan dam cost? Estimates are that it could be as much as $1 billion. That’s very expensive water!

Dams cause a lot of damage to rivers – Inland Rivers Network believes there are a lot better options for supplying long term urban water security for inland cities and towns such as purified recycled water, storm water capture and rain water tanks on every building in town.

The community needs to know – what alternatives have been costed, what cost benefit analysis has been done and what will happen to the price of water for Tamworth residents?

If the Government has nothing to hide, they will release the business case.

Media Release: Wealthy irrigators to be gifted water taken from downstream communities

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Inland Rivers Network condemns new Water Minister Kevin Anderson and the NSW Government for moving closer to granting valuable floodplain harvesting licences, starting with the Gwydir and Border River Valleys, without any regard to the viability of downstream communities and river health.

The issuing of floodplain harvesting licences should be held off until a rigorous environmental, cultural and social assessment of downstream impacts is undertaken and fully understood.

Spokesperson for Inland Rivers Network, Brian Stevens:
‘NSW is one step closer to legalising floodplain harvesting without conducting any comprehensive assessment of the impacts of this water capture. Floodplain water flows should provide water for the Barwon-Darling/Baaka River, for wetland systems, for Aboriginal cultural values and for groundwater recharge.’

‘Downstream communities are being sacrificed by the NSW Government in favour of their wealthy irrigator supporters who have had free unlicensed access to floodplain flows for over 30 years. They are now to be gifted large water entitlements worth many millions of dollars.’

‘Inland Rivers Network agrees that regulation of floodplain water extraction is long overdue, but the NSW Government is planning to issue licences for a large volume of floodplain harvesting based mainly on information provided by the irrigators themselves. Without a comprehensive assessment of downstream impacts, this regulatory process is locking in the ongoing degradation of the NSW Northern Basin rivers and communities.’

‘The call for rigorous impact assessment of floodplain works and flood extraction has been loud and clear across many stakeholder groups in the Murray-Darling Basin but the NSW Government chooses to ignore a fair and just approach to water management in the state.’

Contact: Brian Stevens 0429 903 082

Download the Media Release here: