A RESEARCH initiative to address pressing water issues in the region through a large, holistic project is in the process of being established.
The Water in the Upper Namoi Landscape Strategy will focus on managing water and landscapes in the face of pressures such as climate change.
The majority of rain in the Namoi catchment falls in the upper regions, but very quickly runs off, Tamworth Regional Landcare Association (TRLA) chair Wayne Chaffey said.
"It moves through the top reaches incredibly fast compared to what it used to 200 years ago," he said.
Finding ways to make the upper areas of the catchment act as a sponge, and allow water to drain more slowly through the rest of the floodplain, is critical, he said.
"Hopefully that means we've got better conditions in upper reaches and people downstream are not being exposed to the massive floods, and
issues that they've had in recent times," he said.
Issues faced downstream of the Murray Darling basin, including fish deaths in Menindee, can be traced to problems in rivers and streams in Northern NSW, TRLA vice chair George MacDonald said.
"If there's no water here, or the water's not fixed in these catchments, not only can we not live here, it impacts upon them, too," he said.
After multiple meetings with the University of New England (UNE), landholders, TRLA, and Tamworth, Liverpool Plains, and Gunnedah councils,
and two years of background work, an agreement was made on Friday, February 17.
UNE river science professor Martin Thoms said significant investment will be attracted into the project and lead to "shovel-ready
The next step is a multimillion dollar research investment application to the federal government, and to attempt to engage big businesses.
"We're at the pointy edge of the wedge," Mr Thoms said.
Written by Ava Baxter Northern Daily Leader.