25 September 2023

Public forums to tap into drought

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The Department of Industry and WaterNSW have begun a series of public forums in drought-affected communities as the current rainfall crisis continues to intensify across the State.

The sessions will provide an update on surface and groundwater availability and proposed management measures if the dry conditions persist.

Drought Coordinator at the Department, Michael Wrathall said the Agencies were now in unprecedented territory.

“NSW water storages continue to fall with close to 100 per cent of the State now affected by drought,” Mr Wrathall said.

“We need to protect the remaining water in our river systems as there is no significant rain or inflows predicted.”

He said water availability across the Murray-Darling Basin remained low, particularly in the northern-inland and far west regions.

“A number of valleys have seen inflows below previous record lows. Our priority is to ensure that sufficient water is available for critical water needs.”

He said the Government had made a number of changes to drought stages indicating a growing shortfall in water supplies and the need for temporary drought measures.

These included Macquarie – Stage 4 (critical); Border Rivers, Gwydir, Peel, and Belubula – Stage 3 (severe); Murray, Murrumbidgee and Lachlan– Stage 2 (emerging).

The Lower Darling, Lower Namoi and Barwon-Darling continue on the highest level – Stage 4 (critical).

Mr Wrathall said Stage 4 drought status meant there was a need to consider significant restrictions and other measures consistent with the NSW Extreme Events Policy.

“Landholders and communities need information about water availability so they can plan ahead, and that’s what these consultations are all about,” Mr Wrathall said.

Information about the public forums can be accessed at this PS News link.

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