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Legal action looms over water sharing plans

Harriet Alexander Sydney Morning Herald

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Floodplain graziers and environmental groups are considering legal action against the NSW government if it signs off on controversial water sharing plans, arguing the plans do not adequately take into account the needs of downstream users and the environment.

The Australian Floodplain Association, Macquarie Marshes Environmental Landholders Association and Inland Rivers Network have not ruled out litigation in the Land and Environment Court or the Federal Court if the plans are not amended to more evenly share the pain of a drier climate.

NSW water officials knew decades of unmeasured floodplain harvesting by irrigators was illegal

Kerry Brewster - Guardian

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New South Wales water officials have acknowledged that decades of unregulated and unmeasured floodplain harvesting by irrigators was illegal, the minutes of recent meetings show.

At a January meeting, a week before the first drenching rains in northern NSW, members of a senior government water group discussed the legal implications of irrigators harvesting floodwaters, a widespread but unregulated method that accounts for up to a third of the water used by operators in the northern part of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The practice of irrigators collecting floodwaters using banks and levees to divert the water into large storages and dams has been blamed for contributing to declining flows further down the Murray-Darling River system. The 2018 South Australian royal commission described floodplain harvesting as “one of the most significant threats to water security in the Northern Murray-Darling Basin to both licence holders and downstream states”.

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