Coastal farmers and landholders now have greater water security from the NSW Government’s increase to harvestable rights in coastal-draining catchments.
Landholders can now capture up to 30 per cent of the average annual rainfall runoff from their properties in dams without needing to hold a water access licence or water approval. This will help farmers and landholders to better prepare for droughts. The additional water can only be used for stock watering, domestic use and certain types of agriculture.
As each catchment has different characteristics, water uses and needs, from 2022 the Department of Planning and Environment will assess each coastal-draining catchment to determine if the new limit is appropriate at the local level. Depending on the results of the assessments, the limit may change for some catchments.
Landholders planning to construct dams to make use of the new limit may wish to wait for the assessments to be complete to ensure their new dams are of a permissible size. Dams exceeding the permitted size will be required to be modified at the landholder’s expense.
Landholders need to notify the department before taking up the option to expand their harvestable right dam capacity above the previous 10 per cent limit. This will help keep track of the growth in harvestable rights dams, and ensure water is managed appropriately.
You can assess the maximum harvestable dam capacity for your property using the new WaterNSW Maximum Harvestable Right Dam Capacity Calculator.
For more information on coastal harvestable rights, and the assessments, visit our webpage here.
Remember your harvestable right in dams is only part of the picture of your farm’s water holding capacity. Healthy, biologically active soils soak up and retain a lot of water, while unhealthy soils will sheet water off, leading to soil loss as erosion and water quality issues. 100% groundcover and plenty of deep rooted perennial vegetation are your friends for a more resilient farm. A mechanical intervention that can improve infiltration and biological activity in compacted soil is well timed and appropriately surveyed contour aeration with a Yeomans Plough, something which we can assist you in accessing. Get in touch with KGL if this interests you!