The NSW Government's new draft floodplain harvesting policy is a welcome start in managing the diversion of water from the floodplains of the State's rivers, but implementing it will present considerable challenges, says a leading UNSW environmental scientist.

The policy aims to license all NSW floodplain harvesting works - such as levees, channels, modified billabongs and depressions and storages - and it is intended to include a set of rules in water management plans to cover how water is diverted from the floodplain and in what volumes.

"This will mean that we will at last get more of an idea of what has been happening to our rivers when they overflow their banks," says Professor Kingsford. "It will at least provide a framework for approaching the problem, which we have not had up until now.

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