Water Journal : Water Journal May 2013
WATER MAY 2013 34 Feature Article • A constraints-management strategy should be in place by the end of 2013, with implementation actions well underway to overcome current limitations on the use of water recovered for the environment. • Environmental water management processes should have evolved, with annual basin state priorities developed that take account of the Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy. • All parties should have commenced monitoring, evaluation and reporting activity to support Basin Plan requirements. • Signifcant progress should have been achieved towards identifying and assessing adjustment proposals. Scheduled groundwater reviews should also be completed in readiness for consideration of sustainable diversion limits (SDL) adjustments in 2016. • The Northern Basin work program should be substantially completed, with community interests considered appropriately in its design and implementation, and joint working arrangements between the MDBA, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, New South Wales and Queensland. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Achieving sustainable water management is a long-haul game and success will depend on leadership from all basin governments and active involvement by basin communities to focus on the long-term public interest. When the Commission completes its frst audit report due in 2015, we will expect to see demonstrable progress on these priorities and evidence that concerted efforts have locked in the hard-won gains embodied in this historic plan. In this context, the Commission endorses the MDBA’s recent approach to identifying priority implementation work required in 2013. Implementing the Basin Plan will involve a wide range of activities by different parties at different times and at different scales, from basin-wide to local catchment, valley or aquifer scales. It will, therefore, be important that governments, communities and non-government organisations actively integrate Basin Plan implementation actions with broader natural resource management activities. The National Water Commission’s independent audits in the basin will be an important element of the new Basin governance arrangements. Our aim is to improve public confdence, strengthen accountability and transparency, and promote continuous improvement in water resource management at the whole-of-Basin and water management-area scales. In performing this important role, the Commission will continue to contribute to the vision committed to by Australian governments in NWI – to optimise the economic, social and environmental outcomes of Australia’s water use. BEYOND THE MURRAY--DARLING BASIN Implementing the Basin Plan is a critical part of securing sustainable management of Australia’s water resources, but it is not the whole story. The Commission also provides authoritative public reporting on water reform progress through its other assessment and monitoring functions, including our annual performance reports for urban and rural water utilities, and our markets reports. At the same time, we undertake broader advocacy and leadership activities to promote national reform objectives. In this capacity, the Commission will continue to work together with the Australian water sector and the Australian Water Association (AWA) to inform public debate, advance policy options and promote cooperative approaches to improved water resource management. The Commission recognises the strong leadership coming from the water industry and the research and development community. This is why the National Water Commission is committed to supporting industry and research alliances such as the Australian Water Research and Development Coalition; the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, and the National Recycled Water Regulators Forum. It is also why we have helped broker improved water industry skills and capacity through the National Water Industry Skills Forum in November 2012, and continue to support the Water Industry Skills Taskforce. Critically, through all our functions – audit, assessment and monitoring – the Commission will advocate the importance of defensible science and transparent information to support decision making by governments and communities, and to build public confdence in hard-won water reform outcomes. With our renewed mandate as the key federal agency within the federal framework of water governance, the Commission remains committed to providing Australia’s independent voice on national water issues. The Murray--Darling Basin Plan Implementation: Initial Report is available from the National Water Commission website at www.nwc. gov.au. WJ ABOUT THE AUTHOR Karlene Maywald is the Chair of the National Water Commission. Ms Maywald was a Member of the South Australian Parliament from October 1997 to March 2010 and was appointed as a Cabinet Minister from July 2004 until March 2010. Her portfolio responsibilities included The River Murray, Water Security, Small Business, Regional Development, Consumer Affairs, Science and Information Economy, and assisting the Minister for Industry and Trade. She has a proven, long-standing track record in water management and is passionate about water reform in Australia. Together with her extensive ministerial appointments and portfolio experience in South Australia, Ms Maywald has served on numerous national ministerial councils including the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council, the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, the Primary Industries Ministerial Council and the Regional Development Ministerial Council. Ms Maywald has also served as a board member of the South Australian Water Corporation, together with related SA Water Board committees.
Water Journal April 2013
Water Journal June 2013