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Licensing floodplain harvesting

Gwydir Valley floodplain harvesting and water sharing licence rules

The rules for floodplain harvesting licences were included in the water sharing plan for the Gwydir Valley Regulated River Water Source on 29 July 2022.

View of Georges River at Georges River National Park Picnic Point, Sydney.

About the plan

The rules for floodplain harvesting licences were included in water sharing plans within the Gwydir Valley on 29 July 2022.

Public exhibition on the rules ran from 12 February 2021 until 12 March 2021.

The licensing framework for the Gwydir Valley began on 15 August 2022.


The department held a public webinar, face-to-face public meetings in the Gwydir Valley area, and a series of targeted consultation events with specific stakeholder groups. All stakeholders were provided with information about the implementation of the NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy and water sharing rules for floodplain harvesting licenses in the Gwydir Valley.

The consultation process

Find out more about the consultation process.

Read presentations, watch webinar recordings and read reports and summaries about consultation sessions on our outcomes from the consultation page.

Consulting the community


The department developed the technical reports below to help inform the development of the floodplain harvesting licensing rules in the Gwydir Valley.

Report to assist community consultation

The Gwydir: Floodplain harvesting in water sharing plans–Report to assist community consultation report (PDF, 899 KB) aims to assist the community in understanding the proposed types of rules for floodplain harvesting access licences in the Gwydir Valley. It also provides a summary of the other four technical reports and explains the interaction between the rules, modelling, and the expected environmental benefits once they are put in place.

Modelling reports

The [link to new Licensing floodplain harvesting page] NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy[/link] requires that individual entitlements in regulated river systems are informed by a capability assessment that considers the works used for floodplain harvesting and the opportunity to access floodplain flows based on location and climatic variability. This capability assessment is undertaken through river system models. The following reports were updated in May 2022, addressing some minor corrections and clarifications to reports previously published in February 2022.

Previous versions of these modelling reports were published in February 2021 and February 2022. The previous versions are available below:

These reports were independently peer-reviewed in January-February 2021, and subsequent reports have incorporated ongoing improvements and refinements, including feedback from the independent review: - Gwydir reports review–summary, January 2021 (PDF, 168 KB).

Environmental outcomes report

Harvesting of water from floodplains reduces the volume, frequency and duration of floods and can change the timing of flood events, impacting the health of floodplains and downstream waterways. The NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy will provide a more sustainable level of water diversions from the floodplain.

Hydrological metrics for native fish, floodplain native vegetation, waterbirds, key ecosystem functions and wetlands were modelled for two scenarios. Implementation of the policy is predicted to improve the number of flow days, frequency, and timing of floods for native fish, waterbirds, and floodplain vegetation.

Environmental outcomes of implementing the Floodplain Harvesting Policy: Gwydir report (PDF, 12 MB) provides a detailed assessment of the likely benefits for the environment of implementing the policy in the Gwydir Valley.

A summary of the environmental outcomes predicted for the Border Rivers, Gwydir and Macquarie valleys is available below.

Downstream effects report

The NSW Floodplain Harvesting Policy will restrict the volume of water that can be taken from the floodplain providing gains to the system through foregone diversion.

Any gains in upstream systems such as the Gwydir Valley will translate into the downstream with additional volumes originating in each of the Barwon-Darling tributary valleys contributing to connectivity between the broader northern Basin system and provision of increased flows towards Menindee Lakes and into the Murray River.

Modelled downstream effects of licensing floodplain harvesting in the Gwydir Valley report (PDF, 5.2 MB) quantifies the potential downstream impacts of these increased flows. This report includes work completed for the NSW Border Rivers and the Gwydir valleys.

Rainfall runoff exemption supplementary report

The proposed rainfall runoff exemption can potentially impact floodplain harvesting modelling in the NSW Gwydir Valley. The department has proposed a regulation to exempt rainfall runoff that is collected in a tailwater return drain from requiring a water access licence and a water supply works approval. The successful commencement of this exemption will impact floodplain harvesting modelling in the NSW Gwydir Valley. This report clarifies the scale of this potential impact on licence shares, the environment, and downstream outcomes.

Floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences – rule summary 

The process for determining entitlements of floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences and unregulated river access licences is the same. Accordingly, it is proposed to apply the same rules to floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences as currently exist for unregulated river access licences in the relevant water source and/or management zone, where appropriate.

Type of rule

Proposed rule for floodplain harvesting

Account management

Take limit: 3 ML per unit share over three consecutive years

Account limit: 3 ML per unit share at any time

Available water determination

Initial available water determination of 1 ML per unit share

Available water determination of 1 ML per unit share every year after that, subject to decreases to respond to growth

Permanent trade

Permanent trade of floodplain harvesting (unregulated river) access licences will reflect the existing permanent trade rules that are applied to unregulated river access licences in the Gwydir Unregulated River Water Sources.

No nomination of works located outside the Gwydir Valley floodplain

No nomination of new works located in management zones A or D

Granting or amending water supply works approvals

No modification of works located in management zones A or D established under the Floodplain Management Plan for the Gwydir Valley Floodplain 2016.

No new works constructed in management zones A or D

No new or modified works outside management zones A or D if the construction or modification would result in an increased rate of take for works located in management zone A or D

Access rules

Water must not be taken from works that are located in the following management zones and are nominated by a floodplain harvesting (regulated river) access licence when active management is being applied:

  • Upper Gingham Watercourse Management Zone
  • Lower Gingham Watercourse Management Zone
  • Mallowa Creek Management Zone

Note: This proposed rule is based on the creation of overbank flow in the above management zones during periods of active management.

What we heard

The What we heard report (PDF, 606 KB) summarises the feedback the NSW Government received during the public consultation sessions and from written submissions for the Gwydir Valley.

In addition to the final rules detailed in the What we heard report (PDF, 606 KB), an additional rule has been proposed that acknowledges the connectivity between the Barwon-Darling Valley and the northern inland tributary valleys, and ensure flows are temporarily protected from floodplain harvesting following a dry period.

[link to new page that has been combined with nsw-legislative-council-inquiry-into-floodplain-harvesting] More information on this rule[/link].

Download the What We Heard report


The Gwydir Submissions Report (PDF, 1851.97  KB) details the submissions received via the online platform. Please note only submissions where approval was given to publish have been included. Written submissions or attachments with additional information can be found below.

Contact us

If you require assistance in reading these documents, please contact 1300 081 047 or  water.enquiries@dpie.nsw.gov.au