Oldest continuousculture Australia’s Murray Darling – an overviewPondi story 40kyears Jason Alexandra February 2011 60 million years of separate evolution
Structure –1. Nature of the basin2. A brief history of water policy3. The Basin Plan4. Challenges ahead, including climatechange6. Some tentative conclusions
Water is a strategic resource (and lack of it a limitation).Excellence in water governance is a strategic opportunity.Energy rich and water poor – learn to live like Australians Accept the nature of the place
1 The nature of river basinsRiver systems are highly evolved, co-evolvedcomplex systems based on long term andcomplex “negotiations” between culture andnature
Its today news ….but it’s a bigger, longer story of water reform
What is the MDB? A large ﬂat semi arid basin. A hydro-‐graphic unit. An icon? An example of coopera?ve federalism and a challenge to it? A 21 C test bed for ESD?
Understanding the basics egaverage rainfall and runoffgeneration Distribu?on of Australia’s surface run-‐oﬀ >1 mill i o n km Austra 2 = 1/7 lia, size th of Spain of Fran ce and Covers Territor 5 States and ies >popul at people ion of 2 millio n > 40% agricul tural pr oduce
A river, a basin, a story, a nation and its symbols A changing relationship with natureMurray mouth, Coorong and lower lakes
Climate change: adds new challenges for basin management, adding to old challenges.We need integrated planning and assessmentsComplexity of climate and ecological systems Invest in scientific capacity - dynamic non steady state systems Critical questions re thresholds and tipping points
Cumulative effects of water and land use at abasin scale?
Cumula?ve, compounding and synergis?c eﬀects Diﬃculty in predic?ng and avoiding ?pping points in natural systems – eg Aral Sea
Australia - an ancient nutrient poor land with low population, limited industrialdevelopment and poor water quality and ecological condition in most rivers
Australian ecosystems evolved to capture waterand nutrients. When disturbed through clearing for agriculture they leak salt, soils, nutrients
Modified catchments, Very high nutrient and nutrient and suspended suspended sediment loads sediment loads and habitat Largely unmodifiedRiver and catchment Condition
Cost and consequences of transforming an ancient continentMost agricultural lands have erosion 5-50 times greater than pre-European settlement.4M tonnes of sediment pa and phosphorus exports - about 13,000 tonnes pa
Biodiversity conserva?on challenges Global treaty obliga?ons
Responsibility for 60 million years of separate evolutionInternational obligations to protect biodiversity -creation stories or extinction stories?
“Successive Governments sponsored headlinecloser settlement and intensive irrigationdevelopment, with “dreams of taming the copy rivers, greening the desert, and making land productive, running deep in the national psyche” (Lines 1994) andnotwithstanding, punishing droughts andmisconceptions about the severity of the natural constraints to settlement and production (Taylor 1940).
“dreams of taming the rivers, greening the desert, andmaking land productive, run deep in the national psyche” Large dams era 1920-‐1980’s – na?on building and response to climate variability? 1990’s new policy direc?ons
Irrigation crop and technology changes Water use efficiency through technology, Knowledge of crop demands – eg partial root zone drying
Building on past reform 1901 1914 Cons3tu3on River Murray 1987 Commission Murray-‐Darling 1990’s Basin Commission Cap on Diversions & Water markets 2004 Na3onal Water 2007 Ini3a3ve Commonwealth 2008 2010 & Water Act COAG Guide to the The Living & Agreement proposed Basin Murray First Step Murray-‐Darling Plan Basin Authority 31
A brief history of Australian water policy 1890’s – 1980’s Development era – “drought, royal commission, new dam” 1994 COAG reforms – environmental flows, unbundling water and land “titles”; corporatisation and cost recovery 1995 – MDB “Cap” on more extractions National Water Initiative 2004 – reaffirms commitments to reform agenda, eflows and markets’ role in reallocating water
Objec?ves of the proposed Plan • Ecological health -‐ op?mise social, cultural and economic wellbeing • Sustainable limits on take • Environmental resilience • Appropriate water quality • Eﬃcient and eﬀec?ve water markets 35
Water Act requirements Basin Plan must contain 15 elements, including: • Sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) • Cri?cal human water needs • Water trading rules • Environmental Watering Plan • Water Quality & Salinity Management Plan 36
Water Act requirements In preparing the Plan, the Authority must take into account : • best available science and socio-‐economic analysis and • the principles of ecologically sustainable development 37
How it will work Long Term Planning Annual Management State Basin Water Commonwealth State SDL Plan Resource Accredita?on Alloca?ons Compliance Plan State and territory water Evalua?ng agencies Success MDBA 38
When it takes effectproposed FinalBasin BasinPlan Plan 39 2010 2014 2020
Working out the Sustainable diversion limit How much addi?onal water does the environment need? What are the poten?al impacts on the community? What are the sustainable diversion limit proposals? How to manage the transi?on? 40
30,000 wetlands 2,442 keyenvironmental assets 4 key ecosystem functions 106 hydrological indicator sites 18 KEAs 88 KEFsRange of additionalsurface water for the environment: 3,000 - 7,600 GL/y 41 41
30,000 wetlands 2,442 key environmental assets4 key ecosystem functions106 hydrological indicator sites (18 key assets,88 key functions) 3,000 to 7,600 GL additional surface water needed for the 45 environment
Current diversion limits All types of take = total 13,700 GL/y • For surface water : – Watercourse diversions = 10,940 GL/y • Diversions from streams • Floodplain harves?ng – Intercep?on ac?vi?es = 2,740 GL/y • Farm dams and forestry planta?ons – SDL proposed reduc?on of 3000 to 4000 GL/y – Or about 1 third 46
Sustainable diversion limit proposals: surface water Water resource plan areas Murray-‐Darling Basin CURRENT SDL PROPOSALS 13,700 9,700 – 10,700 3000-‐4000 gl/y or 22 – 29% reduc3on Long term average 47reduction (GL/y)
Socio-‐economic impact assessment Industry impacts High Irrigated broadacre agriculture Medium Cojon and dairy Low High value perennial hor?culture (trade a major contribu?ng factor) Regions most impacted (by $ value) Southern Basin Murrumbidgee, Goulburn-‐Broken, NSW & Vic Murray, Loddon-‐Avoca Northern Basin Gwydir, Condamine-‐Balonne, Namoi, Macquarie-‐Castlereagh 48
Basin plan content • Cri?cal human water needs (s.86A) • Environmental Watering Plan (item 9) • Water Quality and Salinity Management Plan (item 10) • Trading rules (item 12) • Water resource plan accredita?on requirements (item 11) • Monitoring and Evalua?on Plan (item 13) • Compliance (item 8) 49
Environmental Watering Plan – Item 9 plan for managing environmental water 50
Environmental Watering Plan Objec?ves, principles and methods to plan and priori?se Framework for planning, coordina?ng and managing environmental water • Regional long term planning (Basin states) • Regional priori?sa?on (Basin states) • Basin-‐scale priori?sa?on (MDBA) • Annual monitoring, evalua?on and repor?ng 51
Water Quality & Salinity Management Plan -‐ Item 10 • Water quality parameters: – Salinity – blue-‐green algae – Temperature – dissolved oxygen – Turbidity – Toxicants – Nutrients – pH • Targets are non-‐mandatory • State water resource plans must include a Water Quality Management Plan 52
Water trading rules – Item 12• Commence when Plan adopted For all water resources and holders of tradable water rights and aim to – reduce barriers to trade – minimise transac?on costs – Provide consistent informa?on – protect environmental requirements • State trading rules must comply with the Basin Plan 53
Challenges ahead - The approaching storm?climate chaos!!! And its impacts!!!
Climate Climate Changechange is likelyto be thegreatest yetmost uncertainthreat to theshared waterresources of “Most of the effects ofthe MDB climate change operateUp to 4400 GL/ through water”yr reduction inflows in 20 Sir Nicholas Stern, 2007years
Future Projec?ons • Global emissions tracking on the higher IPCC scenarios (such as A1F1) • Warmer drier condi?ons in the future under all global emission scenario’s Projected changes in run-off at 2030 under scenario A1B, showing the number of climate models (out of 15) yielding an increase or decease in run-off; from F. Chiew.
Climate is hotter and drier Global average temperature Satellite estimate of soil moisture Australian average temperature
lack of sustained combined with intervening wet record high periods temperatures most notably in autumn → a drought without historical precedent in SoutheasternAustralian Bureau of Meteorology, 2008 Australia
Climate change projections – CSIRO (Chew)• Large uncertainties in global warming projections – dependent on greenhouse gas emission and global climate sensitivity to increased greenhouse gas concentrations.• As a result of global warming - extreme rainfall will be more intense - some regions will have more rainfall, other regions will have less rainfall.• Large uncertainties in GCM modelling of local rainfall response to global warming.
What if this Drought is Diﬀerent? If the factors that make Australia’s climate variable are vulnerable to global warning? New states or frequency? Key River Murray Catchment Area
Rainfall & Streamﬂow • (hypothe?cal catchment) 30 units 20 units streamflow streamflow 100 rainfall units 90 rainfall units 70 units 70 units evaporation, evaporation, transpiration & transpiration & soil moisture soil moisture threshold threshold 10% less rainfall 30% less streamflow
Lower rainfall = much lower Streamﬂow CSIRO and Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2007)
Water scarcity eg Murray mouth – no flows to sea for years – major ecological effectsCLIMATE uncertainty.Crude water balanceET = 94% of P precipitation 6% = R (runoff, rivers, wetlands,2% = end of system or total irrigation demand) (Roderickand Farquhar 2009)What if ET goes up and P goes down ?Rainfall decline is amplified 4 times in reduced runoffWith irrigation all R is converted to ET via infrastructure –therefore almost no flow to ocean (lower lakes)
Possible Impacts of Climate Change on Other Risks ? Climate ? change Increased demandHigher evaporation. for groundwater asMore farm dams as surface watersurface water ? ? availability reduces?availability reduces? ? Greater irrigation Higher frequency efficiency as surface Increased forest and intensity of water availability evapo-transpiration bushfires due to reduces? due to higher higher temps and temps? worse droughts?
Maximumreduction inyield:Vic 2003fires:Reductionsof up to1237 GL/yin 20 years
Extraction Groundwatercan lead toloss ofsurfacewater.Can be biglag times
Growth in Water Bodies Between 1994-‐2005 – near Alexandra ● Existing water bodies - 1994 ● New water bodies - 2005 Source: Geoscience Australia
The Big Challenges The tough issues are all framed by and driven by• Climate change,• Economic change• Water policy reform – including eflows• Change in values and understanding Major change is inevitable (happening), but what roles for government ? Policies to support adaptations and transitions? Maintain reform momentum Govern resources in the public interest
More Challenges Planning under deep uncertainty – stationarity isdead.Climate impact and risk managementAppropriate institutions and policies for adaptation;Policy science integration? Need for robust analysisand auditing of performanceUnderstanding and acting on thresholds of change –not crash testing
Conclusion 1: develop capacity for robust water policy under uncertaintyUse scenarios - plan for extremes - eg low water availability and deeper drought/climate change impactsPlan for long term reductions in rainfall and runoffAccept a future of intense competition for waterRecognise nature as a legitimate userIn face of uncertainty:• Institutional and policy innovation required• Build diverse, local adaptive capacity• Adopt policies to support adjustment and adaptation eg water market reforms supports risk management and local adaptation
Conclusions 2: Water and droughtLearn to live asAustralia’sWater is a limitedresource!Bush burns!Floodplains flood!Droughts dry out thecountry –70 out of 200 years
River basin management involves culture, prac3ce and governance. We need innova3on system and governance systems that work. New strategic R&D interven3ons – from problem solving to shared learning and system solu3ons
Conclusions 3: Pedagogy of complexity – Water is connected to everything -‐ Interrelated issues require mul?-‐disciplinary, integrated and holis?c approaches Campbell 2008
…“ideas are all Australia has … Not military might, ora large population, or unique resources. … Ideas arewhat must sustain our democracy, nurture ourcommunity and drive our economy into new areas(Paul Keating (2002)