The Namoi River Valley
Namoi River at Gunnedah. Photo: CEWO
The Namoi River Valley contains diverse and natural environments that support domestic water use, agriculture, tourism and recreation, mining and the cultural values and practice of local Aboriginal Traditional Owners.
The Namoi River Valley catchment covers around 4 per cent of the Murray-Darling Basin and uses around 2.6 per cent of all surface water and 15.2 per cent of groundwater in the Basin (excluding the confined aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin). Groundwater extraction in the Namoi is one of the highest for any Basin catchment. Both surface and ground water are used for towns, stock, domestic use and irrigation and are equally important to the region.
Numerous native species are supported within the region, protected under state and federal legislation including 28 threatened plant species and 66 threatened fauna species. In particular, the Namoi and Peel rivers support a number of threatened native fish species including Murray cod, silver perch, freshwater catfish, olive perchlet and purple spotted gudgeon.
Delivery of environmental water to date (as of September 2022)
Commonwealth water for the environment was first delivered in the Namoi River in 2013. It has since been delivered to the Namoi and Peel rivers in 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19 (Namoi only) and 2020–21 (Peel only). This water has helped improve the condition and availability of habitat, increased connectivity and river productivity, and supported the movement, condition and survival of native fish.
The Namoi Valley experienced extreme drought conditions between 2017 and 2020, with lowest on record rainfall and highest on record temperatures. The lack of available water for the environment and extended cease to flow conditions resulted in refuge pools drying out, fish deaths and stressed vegetation.
Conditions began to improve in early 2020 with rainfall providing much needed water to parts of the lower Namoi and Peel rivers. However, the recovery of water storages was slow and allocations against General Security entitlements were not received until September 2020 in the Namoi and January 2021 in the Peel.
A small volume (395 ML) of Commonwealth water for the environment was delivered in the Peel River in autumn 2021, in combination with 1,170 ML of the NSW Environmental Contingency Allowance. This water contributed to a small baseflow downstream of Chaffey Dam to improve water quality, food and habitat availability, to support native fish and platypus.
Further rainfall and inflows increased storage levels and water availability during 2021. With rainfall, tributary flows and dam releases providing water to the lower Namoi and Peel rivers in 2021–22, no Commonwealth water for the environmental was delivered in the 2021–22 water year.
Namoi River. Photo: CEWO
Commonwealth environmental water is planned, delivered and managed in partnership with a number of people and organisations in the Namoi Valley including: