Water Minister Melinda Pavey has pushed ahead with a series of changes to the laws that will allow for the licensing of floodplain harvesting, much to the chagrin of state MP Helen Dalton.
Member for Murray, Helen Dalton has been a vocal opponent to the licensing of floodplain harvesting before the finalising of the NSW Parliamentary inquiry and told The Area News that the process 'subverted democracy'.
"I have urged the NSW Government to wait for the inquiry to hand down its recommendations before it changes the law to allow farmers to divert rainwater into their private dams," Mrs Dalton said.
"The current NSW Upper House floodplain harvesting inquiry won't hand down their recommendations until November but the NSW Government is subverting democracy by changing our laws in September, while Parliament isn't even sitting."
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann, chairwoman of the floodplain harvesting inquiry, said allegations and information brought to light during the inquiry had been 'extremely concerning'.
"The committee has heard evidence regarding the environmental, economic and social impacts of floodplain harvesting, as well as its benefits according to some stakeholders," Mrs Faehrmann said.
The committee was established after the disallowance of the Government's floodplain harvesting regulations in May 2021.
"We have also heard some extremely concerning allegations that the NSW Government is using dodgy modelling to undermine the Murray Darling Basin plan."
Mrs Pavey said the measuring and limiting of floodplain harvesting was the only way to ensure more water would stay in the system to support downstream communities and the environment.
"Regulating floodplain harvesting would improve downstream flows for everyone," Mrs Pavey said.
"If the Legislative Council continue to block the regulations, floodplain harvesting will continue unrestrained."
The NSW Irrigators Council aid that there was a broad support for licensing and metering floodplain harvesting.
"Floodplain harvesting is already a recognised form of water take under the Cap and Basin Plan," NSW Irrigators Council CEO Claire Miller said.
"Regulating the practice does not give irrigators new water they were not already using.
Rather, regulation is the last piece of the Basin Plan puzzle in which historic levels of take are incorporated into the models and the volume then reduced to sustainable limits.
Mrs Miller said that this was the process in which the Murray Darling Basin Authority adjusted the Basin Plan's 2009 baseline diversion levels in other valleys and States to reflect more accurate knowledge over time.
According to Mrs Dalton, the inquiry had highlighted the damage floodplain harvesting had done to communities and the environment.
"If we push ahead with licensing now, we will lock in an unstable level of floodplain harvesting in the future," Mrs Dalton said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: