The Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) is a program designed to achieve similar or improved environmental outcomes for rivers, wetlands and wildlife using less water as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
SDLAM can be achieved through supply, including constraints, or efficiency measures. Supply measures involve improvements to the way rivers are managed, while efficiency measures involve activities to change water use practices, to save water for the environment. For more information about how the measures work, visit Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
In 2017, the Basin states and the Australian Government agreed on a package of 36 SDLAM projects across the southern connected Murray-Darling Basin, with the aim of recovering 605 GL of water each year for the river system.
The NSW Government is currently developing nine projects, in collaboration with local communities, key stakeholders and other Basin states, with funding from the Australian Government.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan was developed to improve and maintain healthy rivers and floodplains, while supporting sustainable agriculture, industries and communities. The Basin Plan is about more than water recovery, it is about striking a balance to ensure a resilient and productive environment for the future.
Water for the environment recovered through the Basin Plan will not solve all the river health issues. There simply is not enough water to simulate the large-scale events needed to reconnect the rivers to the floodplains as often and to the extent they need.
SDLAM projects further the significant works already completed under the Basin Plan. Better environmental outcomes can be achieved without the need for additional water recovery through infrastructure, changing rules to deliver water to high value environmental sites and changing the way rivers are managed. Often infrastructure, such as flow regulators, pumps or channels, are the only way to get water to key environmental sites in the volumes needed. Another option is to ease constraints to the delivery of water for the environment, allowing managed higher flows down the river to connect rivers and floodplains more often.
The SDLAM accelerated projects are the:
Restoring and enhancing the river habitat across the interconnected Frenchmans Creek and Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo systems.
Modernising infrastructure to enable smarter use of water in the Yanco Creek system.
Mitigating third-party impacts of water releases on landholders adjacent to the forest.
Improving connectivity between the Murray River, its main anabranch, the Edward-Kolety river system, and other surrounding creeks.
Improving the delivery of environmental water in the Yanga and Murray (Millewa) National Parks.
Menindee Lakes and Yanco Creek Offtake Projects rescoping
The Menindee Lakes and Yanco Creek Offtake Projects caused a high level of concern in their respective communities. Recognising these projects have unique sensitivities and cannot be delivered in their current form by 2024, they are being rescoped.
There are multiple issues that need to be resolved. That is why our focus has been on rescoping these projects to look at whether there are projects which could be done instead of what was previously proposed.
As a result, Water Infrastructure NSW has substantially revised the Yanco Creek Offtake Project, moving away from the original plan proposing to raise the existing water level upstream of Yanco Weir by up to 2.5m under normal operating conditions.
Instead, the project is focusing on a range of smaller scale options to deliver improved operational flexibility and environmental outcomes. These options range from between a 0 to 1.2m rise to the existing water level upstream of Yanco Weir under normal operating conditions.
We are also investigating a range of initiatives through the Better Baaka program as part of rescoping the Menindee Lakes project.
Projects outside the SDLAM Acceleration Program and rescope work
The NSW Government is committed to projects that deliver the economic, social, environmental and cultural outcomes sought by the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
More time is needed to the deliver projects outside of the SDLAM Acceleration Program and rescope work so we can provide stronger Basin outcomes, improve river health and provide economic stimulus to our regions.
Work on these projects will not stop. We will continue to refine these projects and to seek the views of our community and industry. We will also continue to seek a way forward with our Basin counterparts. Our continued work will give us a solid basis to continue advocating for an extension of timeframes to deliver solid, environmental, social, economic and cultural outcomes.
Investigating a suite of options to improve water management to help achieve the objectives of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
A $180 million significant water saving project for NSW, and particularly for the Murrumbidgee region.
Improving environmental, social and cultural outcomes for communities along the Murray and Murrumbidgee River systems.