Emergency services are continuing to search the Gwydir River, near Bingara, for two missing people, believed to be part of a NSW surf club.
Initially it was thought the incident happened on Copeton Dam but a State Water spokesman told Fairfax the incident occurred about 35km downstream of the dam on the Gwydir River, accessible only by a 4WD access road.
He said staff were contacted by police at 11.30am and asked to stop releasing water from Copeton Dam and their instructions were “acted on immediately”.
The spokesman said about 1600 megalitres a day was being released from the dam, but all releases have been stopped until further notice.
It is believed the child, a five-year-old, was wearing a life jacket but not the older woman.
The pair are believed to be from a Sydney surf club, which had a large group of people camping at the area.
A spokesman from Surf Life Saving NSW said they had been in touch with police and would be releasing a statement shortly.
Officers from the outlying New England police command were called to help their Barwon colleagues.
SES North West regional controller Phil Lalor confirmed SES volunteers were assisting with the search for those missing.
Eight volunteers were at the scene along with two SES vehicles and a boat.
He said the SES would “stay there as long as required”.
Copeton Waters State Park is a 900Ha recreational playground. It is located on the western slopes of the New England Ranges, 550km north-west of Sydney.
The dam holds three times the volume of Sydney Harbour.