Walgett is on the confluence of two major rivers, the Baawan and the Ngamaay (Namoi). Despite this, Walgett is often without river water because of upstream irrigation and the way the rivers are managed
by water agencies.
Walgett has a 2271 mega litre Local Water Utility licence on the Lower Namoi Regulated River. However, since 2016 Walgett has been able to use water from this licence only twice. In every other year Walgett’s access to town water from this licence has been zero mega litres.
When upstream irrigation extractions stop the river flowing, or base flows and essential supplies are not released from Keepit Dam, Walgett’s Local Water Utility licence is not large enough to deliver water to Walgett.
Walgett’s Local Water Utility licence is enough only for the town’s needs. It is not enough to convey that water to Walgett (i.e. transmission losses also need to be accounted for).
Without water from the river Walgett relies on groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin, which has high levels of Sodium.
Despite the Objects of the NSW Water Management Act 2000, in the last decade all categories of irrigation water in the Namoi Valley, including floodplain harvesting and supplementary take, have been more reliable than Walgett town water.
The rivers at Walgett are often polluted by blue-green algae, nutrients and other potentially harmful chemicals that enter the river from upstream industries.
Currently Gingie Village’s water supply is permanently sourced from the Great Artesian Basin, is not potable and has a higher level of sodium than the water delivered to town and Namoi Villages.