Water Journal : Water Journal June 2014
WATER JUNE 2014 38 Ozwater Report learnings of the project are that strong partnerships and good working relationships across all levels of government and the community can achieve outstanding results and make long- lasting, sustainable changes that deliver environmental bene ts. THE TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE The triple bottom line (TBL) concept provides both a model for understanding sustainability and a system of performance measurement, accounting, auditing and reporting. TBL reporting is also part of a broader framework of change management for integrating sustainability into the business of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). It is generally accepted that the TBL refers to the economic, social and environmental aspects of Integrated Water Resources Management. However, are we getting best value for money with an integrated water resource management approach? There are dangers and limitations of faithfully accepting the merits of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) over approaches that seek disaggregated solutions. IWRM has not delivered good outcomes in some cases. More speci cally, our fascination with subsuming all elements of re-allocation decisions into a single planning instrument has led to costly and inef cient results that will continue to haunt water managers and taxpayers. In the case of the MDB, treating the acquisition of water for environmental purposes separately from other social and economic changes could have resolved many of these problems at much lower cost. The deployment of IWRM philosophies in urban contexts shows similar worrying signs. Moreover, in states like Victoria the approach could potentially provide camou age for decisions that would likely not pass muster if subjected to separate and routine cost-bene t analysis. This leaves observers to wonder if good partial solutions to water policy problems might not be better than bad integrated ones. COMPUTER-MODELLING THE BASIN In order to manage waters in the Basin, eWater Ltd has developed a next-generation computer model, SOURCE, which aims at balancing human and environmental uses of land and water. Two Cooperative Research Centres (the CRC for Catchment Hydrology and the CRC for Fresh Water Ecology) merged into the eWater CRC in 2005. In 2012, eWater Ltd was established as a government-owned, not-for-pro t company, offering a suite of tools to manage water. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) was codi ed in the SOURCE model with multiple issues incorporated in the model across catchments, habitats, down to individual biota level. The model allows users to deal with the effects of land clearing, erosion, sand slugs (sand banks in rivers), habitat loss, salinity, fertiliser and pesticide runoff, stock impacts, degraded riparian habitats, the impacts of dams and other water management control structures on ow regimes, oodplain water harvesting, loss of oodplain, inundation events, low river ows leading to toxic algal blooms and, nally, the Murray River mouth sedimentation and closure. Coastal sheries depend on river ows, while river and catchment systems are incredibly complex scienti cally, socially and politically. The Basin ecosystems require management and trade-offs of multiple objectives across multiple time and space scale. No matter what you know and believe about (computer) models and their accuracy and ef cacy, the complexity of rivers and catchments absolutely necessitates modelling approaches to support decision- making; tools of trade for water engineers, managers and planners. The MDBA is in the process of codifying the Murray-Darling Basin system in SOURCE and hopes to complete this by mid-2015. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Delegates attending the Ozwater'14 Conference & Exhibition in Brisbane were presented with an overview of water management issues in the Murray-Darling Basin that ranged from a description of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, to mapping of oods, to funding inputs for restoring river and wetland health, to monitoring of environmental health using birds as indicators while coping with political and economic drivers, and realising that climate change and modelling of weather patterns play an important role. All this can be encapsulated in (computer) models and an example of such a model was presented. Each of the ndings in the Murray- Darling Basin applies across Australia and worldwide. The AWA Rural Water Specialist Network was established in 2013 and intends to stimulate sharing of knowledge of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) among AWA members and provide a national platform for the exchange of Australian and International research ndings related to IWRM and promoting sustainable water management in rural and peri-urban regions of Australia. Organising the special stream on water management in the Murray-Darling Basin was one of our rst main activities and a similar event may be considered at Ozwater'15. Speci c areas of interest of the Rural Water Specialist Network are: irrigation water management; drainage and reuse; water resources management; environmental water management; and ood control. For more information on the Rural Specialist Network, please go to www.awa.asn.au/rural_water This is an abbreviated version of this report. To view the full version click here. Figure 7. Number of water birds and wetland area index (Kingsford and Porter, 2009). Figure 8. One of the rst aqua dams imported in Australia and used at Hattah Lakes to retain water in the wetland.
Water Journal May 2014
Water Journal August 2014