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 November 2021)
Commonwealth environmental water was first delivered in the Namoi River in 2013, to increase in-stream habitat and to support native fish following good rainfall in the catchment.
Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, water availability was limited by low allocation and no Commonwealth environmental water was delivered in the Namoi River Valley during that time.
Following wetter conditions in 2016 there was an opportunity to improve the health and resilience of aquatic ecosystems. Commonwealth environmental water was delivered in the Lower Namoi River between February and May 2017, and the Peel River in June 2017. These deliveries were designed to support the movement of native fish, particularly silver perch, increase connectivity and river productivity, and improve vegetation health.
A similar approach was taken in 2017–18, with Commonwealth environmental water being delivered in the Lower Namoi River between March and May, and in the Peel River in June 2018, to support native fish, connectivity and river productivity.
In 2018–19, Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to the Lower Namoi River downstream of Gunidgera, to help support native fish survival during extreme drought conditions. This flow helped to connect waterholes, improved depth and water quality in refuge pools, and increased the chance of survival of native fish over summer.
With ongoing extreme drought conditions and low water availability, no Commonwealth environmental water was delivered in the Namoi River Valley in 2019-20.
In 2020-21, summer and autumn rainfall improved conditions in the Namoi River Valley, increasing water availability and water allocations. While no Commonwealth water for the environment was delivered in the Namoi River, a small volume was delivered in the Peel River in autumn 2021, supporting native fish and platypus by improving water quality, food, and habitat availability.
With further rainfall and river flows in 2021–22, no water for the environment has been delivered in either the Namoi or Peel rivers as of November 2021.
Namoi River. Photo: CEWO
Commonwealth environmental water is planned, delivered and managed in partnership with a number of people and organisations in the Namoi River Valley including:
- NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Environment, Energy and Science
- NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment - Water
- NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries
- WaterNSW and the Namoi-Peel Customer Advisory Group
- North West Local Land Services
- Murray-Darling Basin Authority