An alliance of businesses in the business of water

Business Connect sheds light on future Murray-Darling Basin plans

August 25, 2017

At the August Business Connect event Water Industry Alliance members gained insights into the current and future developments for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Brent Williams, General Manager Policy Coordination at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) shared the scope of the MDBA’s evaluation process and level of analysis, with a full report due by May 2018.

The evaluation will:

• Report on progress with Basin Plan implementation and check that MDBA is on track;

• Present evidence of the outcomes from the Basin Plan so far and identify if there are any outcomes that are not as expected after five years; and,

• Identify opportunities where Basin Plan implementation can be improved.

The evaluation will cover all elements of Basin Plan implementation, including water recovery and outcomes from the Commonwealth Government’s investments, environmental water management and delivery, the implementation of water trading rules and the water quality and salinity management plan and progress towards new water planning arrangements. It will also evaluate the economic, environmental, social and cultural outcomes from the Basin Plan.

The 2017 evaluation is not a way of reviewing sustainable diversion limits (SDLs), and will not re-visit the original decision on the sustainable level of take. This is being done by other mechanisms – the Northern Basin Review and the SDL adjustment process in the southern Basin.

“Early indications are that Basin scale impacts of the Basin Plan may be hard to discern – by and large the economy across the Basin is going well, and agricultural production continues to be strong,” Mr Williams told WIA members.

“However, it may be a different story for some smaller irrigation dependent communities. That’s why we want to do both a region and catchment assessment of the social and economic conditions, plus assessment of the impacts of the Basin Plan on the local community.”

Mr Williams also discussed the Authority’s six key South Australian projects and how the opening of an office in Adelaide and other regions across the MDBA signals a strengthening of engagement and participation to help trigger cultural change within the Authority.