Murray-Darling Basin report sets out path to 450GL environmental water recovery

The Independent Report to the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council by Ernst and Young has been released, concluding that 450GL in additional environmental water can be recovered through efficiency measures, with neutral or improved socio-economic outcomes, to enhance the environmental outcomes that can be achieved by the Basin Plan.

The 300-page report, prepared after four months of community and stakeholder consultations, found that in relation to water recovery, there was “a general lack of clarity as to measures and objectives, no common language and an absence of trust”.

“Stakeholders are experiencing fatigue from multiple consultation streams and have expressed a desire to discuss Basin Plan issues on a holistic basis and for deeper two-way engagement. To move forward there is a need to better engage with community and industry leaders, build greater trust and develop a social license.”

Further, the report found a need for greater focus on centrally collecting information and data specifically relating to water efficiency measures.

“This is required to better understand the socio-economic impacts of water efficiency measures, the economics of participation, the associated value for money implications and risks in achieving the program within the required statutory budget.”

The report found that elements of the Basin Plan already implemented, specifically buybacks, large off-farm infrastructure modernisation programs and environmental watering events have had significant (positive and negative) impacts to date.

“Looking forward uncertainty in the management of environmental water including State watering plans and the management of constraints is also impacting stakeholders.”

In order to achieve the 450GL water recovery, the report recommended:

  • Investment in upfront engagement with community and industry leaders

  • A partnership approach to program delivery

  • An agile and adaptive program delivery approach

  • Extensive monitoring and evaluation informed by enhanced data collection.

The report, Analysis of Efficiency Measures in the Murray Darling Basin is available here.

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