Water Journal : Water Journal May 2012
water MAY 2012 45 public address And we've argued that sorting out the fundamental rules and processes that manage water across four states and one territory is just as important as bringing the system back into a volumetric balance. We've required, as part of our plan, that the rule books be reviewed. So we believe our plan provides a coordinated and sensible way forward to allow these things to be done and to get everyone together to work on the same page. The status quo is no longer acceptable. The truth is that while there are many views there is an overwhelming message from communities that it is time to get on with it. So having a Basin Plan in place is the first step to giving people in the Basin some certainty. Our Plan represents a framework through to 2019 with a mid-point review and builds in options to make changes along the way. Some argue that this creates uncertainty, but we believe with flexibility comes opportunity. The alternative is to lock everything in now and rely solely on buy-back -- and we have heard loud and clear that communities and industry do not want that as an option. Our framework allows: • Opportunities for infrastructure savings; • More opportunities for local involvement; and • Incentives to Government to find savings and to make improvements without affecting communities and industries using tools such as infrastructure, environmental works and measures and more efficient rules and management procedures. I also want to take a moment to address some of the criticisms I hear about our science. We challenge any assertion that the draft plan isn't based on firm science. Our modelling is far more detailed and more robust than any previous scientific work carried out by either the Authority or other independent groups. We've heard claims by some environmental lobby groups that "science" shows the environment needs more than what we're proposing in the basin plan. We assume they are referring to our historical work that has now been replaced by more robust and detailed modelling. We've also factored in the realities of the system, those constraints which govern the flow of water. Our current methodology has been peer reviewed by a panel led by CSIRO and they determined this was sufficient as a basis to make a start. As Professor Bill Young of CSIRO said: "There is sufficient science available to make an informed decision on an environmentally sustainable level of take in the Basin. In other words, the science and evidence base is clear -- the improvements in environmental flow regimes achievable under the proposed SDLs would deliver significant environmental benefits. It also found that the substantial body of work undertaken by the MDBA represents a sufficient basis to begin an adaptive process of managing the level of take in the future and that the methods of modelling and analysis used by the MDBA were generally robust and defensible." We're not aware of any other scientific work that shows evidence to support some of the claims being put forward by lobby groups. Of course, we would be happy to consider any new or improved science and our adaptive framework is designed in a way that allows new science to be brought forward and considered. The challenge is to create a plan that works for the social and economic aspects as well as the environmental health of rivers and wetlands.
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