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Water Wednesday - Professor Barry Hart

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Water Wednesday - Murray Darling Basin Plan: Striking the right balance …

Water Wednesday - Murray Darling Basin Plan: Striking the right balance
The Water Research Centre in conjunction with Australian Water Association SA Branch presented Water Wednesday on 29 February 2012.

This special joint Water Wednesday forum featured a presentation from Professor Barry Hart, an independent member of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, on the Draft Basin Plan which is currently out for public review.

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  • 1. Water Research Centre Water Research Centre The Environment Institute AWA SA Branch/Adelaide University “Water Wednesday” Murray Darling Basin Plan: Striking the Right Balance Chair: Justin BrookesSlide 0 Life Impact The University of Adelaide
  • 2. Water Research Centre Water Research Centre The Environment Institute AWA SA Branch Technical Seminar Seminar sponsorsSlide 1 Life Impact The University of Adelaide
  • 3. Water Research Centre Water Research Centre The Environment Institute Prof Barry Hart Monash University Murray Darling Basin Plan: Striking the Right BalanceSlide 2 Life Impact The University of Adelaide
  • 4. The MD Basin Plan - Striking the Right Balance Prof Barry Hart MDBA
  • 5. Why the need?• Significant changes to hydrology – Less flooding (overbank flows) – Changes to seasonal flow regimes• Overallocation of water resources – Particularly severe in southern basin• Degradation of environment – River red gums dying – Fish populations reduced – Waterbird number reduced – Algal blooms – Water quality degradation - salinity – Murray mouth closed• Increased threat to agricultural production
  • 6. Hydrology of the BasinNorthern Basin Southern Basin
  • 7. Balancing the equation Consumptive 42% Murray - 58%, 42% Darling - 28%, 72% Environment (58%) (Baseline - at 2009)
  • 8. Basin Plan - purpose• Objective – to develop and implement an integrated water resource Plan for the whole Basin• Basin Plan seeks to rebalance the system – more water for the environment, but – minimise impacts on irrigators and local communities• MDBA’s task – set the bounds (Sustainable Diversion Limits - SDL) and work with the States and local communities to implement• MDBA only has powers to do part of the reform, but ……
  • 9. The Basin PlanThe Basin Plan must include:• Sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) = Ecologically Sustainable Level of Take (ESLT)• Water resource plan accreditation• Environmental Watering Plan• Water Quality & Salinity Management Plan• Water trading rules• Monitoring and Evaluation program
  • 10. What are we aiming to achieve?A healthy working Basin• critical drinking water needs can be met• rivers are connected to creeks, billabongs and floodplains• healthy ecosystems supporting a wide variety of plants and animals• sufficient flows to flush nutrients and salt through the system• sustainable growth in food and fibre production• long-term confidence for businesses and communities• ‘fit for purpose’ water quality• a free market for trading water
  • 11. What we wish to achieve
  • 12. Four stage process 2010 2011 2012 2012-2019 The The The propose Basin Implement Guide d Basin ation Plan Plan• information • information • adoption • formal• feedback submissions Review in 2015
  • 13. Reports
  • 14. The Task
  • 15. Decision-making process Environment (Science + Judgements) • Define the MDB environment we want to protect • Define what we want it to be (objectives) • Determine how much water needed to achieve this (EWR) Balancing Implications • Social and economic • EnvironmentalEnvironmentally sustainable level of take (ESLT) = Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) (more than just a volume)
  • 16. Defining the environment• Largely done in the Water Act• Key environmental assets - wetlands, floodplain forests, rivers, estuary (Coorong) - largely specific areas, locations - judgements required to define which are ‘key’ assets and how much water they need• Key environmental functions - Largely ecological processes - primary production, fish migration, triggers for breeding, material transport - judgements required in relating functions with flows• Ecosystem services - Not considered yet
  • 17. How much water is needed?Key environmental assets• Too many to assess all (selected 2000+ KEAs)• Selected 18 to act as indicators - these are - hydrologically representative - have good information base on them• Most indicator assets are wetlands or floodplain forests (require high flows largely through overbank flows)• High flows make largest contribution to volume and therefore largest influence on ESLT
  • 18. Indicator Lower Balonne River Floodplain System Gwydir WetlandsAssets Narran Lakes Booligal Wetlands Lachlan Swamps Great Cumbung Swamp Lower Murrumbidgee Wetlands Macquarie Marshes Lower Darling River System Hattah LakesRiverland – ChowillaFloodplain Mid Murrumbidgee Wetlands Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Wimmera River Barmah Millewa Forest Terminal Wetlands Edward Wakool River System Lower Goulburn River Floodplain Gunbower Koondrook Perricoota Forests
  • 19. How much water is needed?
  • 20. Barmah-Millewa - Targets & Flows
  • 21. Barmah-Millewa - Targets & Flows
  • 22. Achievement of targetsDelivered under current operating conditions Needs trib inflows or unregulated flows Not all yearsRiver operations constraints Only achieved with large unregulated flows (floods)
  • 23. Environmental water• Within each catchment• Two components: - Local requirements (to water the assets and functions in that catchment) - Downstream requirement (to water assets and functions in downstream parts of the river)• Example - Goulburn - Local - for river channel and lower Goulburn Floodplain - Downstream - contribution to River Murray assets and functions
  • 24. Reports
  • 25. Balancing Socio-economicKey Hydrological assessmentecological asset sitesassets (18) Ecological water requirements SDL (EWR)Key Hydrologicalecological function sitesfunctions (88) System constraints
  • 26. Social and economic affects• Long term, Basin scale – small economic affect• Short term, local scale – small communities with high reliance on irrigation will be most at risk
  • 27. How much more e-water needed?Current thinking:Basin wide - 2,750 GL/y (long-term average)eWater Recovery:
  • 28. Indicative rebalancing 2,700 GL/y North South 33% 25% 44% 8,100 GL/y Additionalenvironmental water 16,800 GL/y 67% 75% 56% 5,100 GL/y
  • 29. Planned vs Held e-water
  • 30. Strategies to adjustIrrigators• Commonwealth buy-backs ($3.1 bill)• Irrigation modernisation ($5.9 bill) GAPCommunities/businesses• Lost water = $ lost to towns/regions• Debt levels high due to drought• Mitigating impacts - gov’t assistance?
  • 31. Implementation• Major rural reform - will take time• The Basin Plan as part of a Plan for the Basin• Will need a ‘whole of government’ response to minimise impacts on local communities• States and community will be vital part of the implementation through developing and implementing regional water resource plans• Need less focus on the SDLs and more on how the extra water is used
  • 32. Opportunities• Time extension to 2019 provides opportunity• In 2012 the Basin Plan will recommend ‘indicative SDLs’ for each catchment and the Basin• This is within a ‘constrained’ system• Opportunities to address some of these constraints (with potential changes to SDLs)• Opportunity to progress towards more contemporary river management
  • 33. Constraints• Operational constraints - Change river operating rules (currently focused on consumptive water delivery) - Optimise storage management• Policy constraints - Modify storage carryover rules - Water sharing plans - alter to better protect environmental water during droughts - Remove state-based policies that impact of environmental outcomes• Physical constraints - Remove/modify infrastructure that impede high flows - Purchase easements to allow high flows to be delivered - Adopt engineering works and other innovative solutions
  • 34. • An adaptive plan More buybacks • Address some constraints • More modeling & science Final SDL Indicative • Environmental works SDL Consumptive water 1200 GL/y850 GL/y recoveredrecovered Gap Environmental water
  • 35. 10 Key Points• Vision is for a healthy working basin• Basin Plan is next step of the journey• We have a robust starting point• It’s more than just a volume of water• Progress will be reviewed in 2015• Savings from the ‘rules review’ will see SDL adjusted• Northern basin is different to southern basin• One size does not fit all - catchments are different• How water is recovered will affect social & economic impacts• Localism is critical
  • 36. Summary• Development and implementation of the Murray- Darling Basin Plan – major rural reform• Significant reductions in current diversion limits required• Commonwealth investment (ca. $9 billion) should ‘purchase’ all the water required• But still need a ‘whole of government’ response to minimise impacts on some local communities• Many opportunities to progress towards more contemporary river management by addressing many of the current constraints• This is a ‘journey’ we have just begun
  • 37. Water Research Centre Water Research Centre The Environment Institute • Australian Water Association Keep in touch and stay informed with water industry professionals - Events, conferences, courses and study tours - National and regional interest groups and activities - Opportunities to connect with senior industry representatives and experts. - Research and publications – Water Journal and Australian Water Directory, plus extensive online library of technical papers SA AWA Branch More Technical events to be held in April, May and June: Next event - Thurs 19 April SA Young Water Professionals Seminar Topic: Adelaide’s North South Interconnector Pipeline projectSlide 37 Life Impact The University of Adelaide
  • 38. Water Research Centre Water Research Centre The Environment Institute AWA SA Branch/Adelaide University “Water Wednesday” Event Close & Networking Thanks to our sponsorsSlide 38 Life Impact The University of Adelaide