Water Matters - Issue 47, December 2018

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Community views to influence program design

Irrigators were amongst over 500 Basin community members who participated in the consultations.

Public consultations on the socio-economic criteria to be applied to the Murray–Darling Basin Water Infrastructure Program were held throughout the Basin in October and November.

These meetings were attended by over 500 people. Participants included irrigators, local government representatives and other community members. The Department also hosted a webinar attended by 50 people in 31 locations.

Around 50 online submissions or surveys have been submitted to the program’s Have​ Your Say platform and, where permission has been given, these will be published.

The head of the Water Division at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Paul Morris, said the consultations had given participants the opportunity to present their views on potential additional criteria for water efficiency projects and to ask questions about the program.


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‘We received many valuable comments and heard the views of people about the Basin Plan and its implementation,’ Mr Morris said.

‘Historical impacts of water recovery, constraints on the delivery of environmental water, potential impacts on the price of water and the rapid growth of horticulture putting more pressure on irrigation networks were among the many issues raised at the meetings.

‘While many stakeholders were keen to see an end to further water recovery, there were also suggestions made for ways to improve the program criteria. We welcome the strong interest in Basin Plan implementation by stakeholders.’ 

Sefton and Associates will provide an independent report on the outcome of the consultations and the submissions received, which will be considered by the Basin Officials Committee and the Ministerial Council when it meets in December.


Indonesian trainees learn from Australia's flood management expertise

Australian Government representative Richard McLoughlin (front right) welcomes the trainees to Australia as Rama Brierty (front left) translates.

The Australian and Indonesian Governments have commenced the first project under a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the countries—a project to improve Indonesia’s ability to prepare for and respond to flood risks.

Despite the efforts made by local governments, flood losses in Indonesia continue worsening each year. Given Australia’s well-recognised experience in flood management, Indonesia proposed training their officials as one of six high-priority projects under the MoU.

A two-week training course in integrated flood risk management for 25 Indonesian government officials from a range of agencies launched in Brisbane on 5 November 2018. It focused on improving capacity of local communities to manage flood risks to support Indonesia’s overall preparedness. The officials who made the journey are technical staff responsible for dealing with floods.


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Head of the Sub-directorate for rivers, coasts, reservoirs and lakes at the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS), Mohammad Irfan Saleh, said ‘Flood losses in Indonesia continue to worsen year on year, in part because the capacity of local communities to deal with floods is not yet fully mobilised.’

‘The training will give our officials a firm foundation to build on and take back to develop further in their respective jurisdictions,’ Mr Saleh said.

The course was delivered by a range of Queensland Government and private sector experts at the International Water Centre (IWC), based at Griffith University.

Australia commenced a five-year MoU with Indonesia in September 2017 which commits the two countries to cooperating and planning together in the fields of water resources and agriculture development.

Richard McLoughlin, who leads International Engagement on water for the Department of Agriculture of Water Resources, explained that, ‘The MoU provides a platform not only for government-to-government policy exchange and information sharing, but also for collaboration and cooperation between private-sector partners.’ 

‘This training is the first project to be implemented under the MoU and I am pleased that we have achieved this in such a short time since the MoU was signed,’ Mr McLoughlin said.

To find out more about how the MoU is being implemented, contact Adam Sincock.


Shaping the future of the Great Artesian Basin

Communities have their say on the long-term health, sustainability and use of groundwater.

Communities have been given the chance to shape the Strategic Management Plan for the future of the Great Artesian Basin, one of Australia’s greatest natural resources.

The Basin lies beneath nearly a quarter of the continent and contains 65 million GL of underground water.

The 15-week consultation period asked those with an interest in this important resource to review a draft Strategic Management Plan.

Attracting written submissions from 112 stakeholders, the consultation included options to give feedback by online survey, email or post.

Stakeholders also attended one of 10 regional meetings across South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.


Continue reading about shaping the future of the Great Artesian Basin

Communities considered challenges and opportunities for the Great Artesian Basin to determine the long-term health, sustainability and use of groundwater.

Stakeholders welcomed the chance to participate, generating 2000 hits to the website, 634 downloads of the draft Plan and 192 downloads of the draft Plan Summary.

Some of the key themes were the potential impacts from the extractive resource industries, the need for a robust governance framework to manage the Basin over the longer term, and the importance of investing in Basin infrastructure.

Head of the Water Division at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Paul Morris, said local input was crucial to getting it right and so it was important that everyone in the Basin had a chance to have a say.

‘If this resource is managed well then rural communities across NSW, Qld, SA and the NT will thrive,’ Mr Morris said.

‘The Great Artesian Basin gives life to communities, farms, industry and the environment, and helps to generate nearly $13 billion of wealth for Australia each year,’ he said.

‘It's also a vital water source during drought, which some Basin communities are experiencing right now.

‘That's why we've worked with states and territories in consultation with the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee to draft this Plan.’

Mr Morris said feedback would be considered by Basin governments when drafting the final Plan, which would guide governments, traditional owners and the community on Basin management over the next 15 years.

To find out more and keep up to date on the release of the final Plan, subscribe for updates on the web​site, or contact the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee .


Better water quality to flow

New water quality website will help to secure the health of our aquatic ecosystems.

A joint initiative between the Commonwealth, state, territory and New Zealand governments will help better manage and protect our precious water resources.

Head of the Water Division at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Paul Morris, said a new website had been created to publish an extensively revised, nationally-supported strategy and guidelines for improving water quality in Australian waterways.

This new website will provide water managers with the tools and advice they need to assess, manage and monitor water quality at a local level,’ Mr Morris said.

‘Australians understand the critical importance of water to everything we do and enjoy.

‘The current drought conditions in many parts of Australia serve to highlight this.


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‘Protecting water quality is integral to securing the health of our aquatic ecosystems, meeting the needs of people, agriculture and industry, and protecting cultural, spiritual and natural values.

‘From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Artesian Basin, and from the Murray–Darling river system to local wetlands and beaches, water quality is fundamentally important to us all.

The water quality website will support state and territory governments to apply the Australian and New Zealand guidelines according to local regulations and conditions.

The website contains the National Water Quality Management Strategy and the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality.

The guidelines have been updated over several years using the best available science and new techniques to make them more relevant and current.

The guidelines have been used by all Australian and New Zealand governments since 1992.

The new website is available at waterquality.gov.au.


New online course for irrigation industry recruits

A new online training course for irrigators will reinforce the importance of saving water on-farm.

A free online course will increase the water efficiency capacity of new irrigation sector recruits. 

Irrigation 101 fills a critical gap in training resources. It provides core information about irrigation concepts and the importance of saving water on-farm.

The course has been created through the NSW Sustaining the Basin Irrigated Farm Modernisation (STBIFM) program.

STBIFM Team Leader Dr Michael Grabham said, “Feedback from irrigators indicated a pressing need in the industry for low cost, basic training resources, particularly for short-term casual staff and inexperienced new employees.”

Irrigation 101 has been designed for new farm employees and those engaging with irrigated agriculture for the first time, building the capacity of workers from entry level up.


Continue reading about new online course for irrigation industry recruits

Service providers in related industries can also use the course to improve their knowledge of irrigation and gain a better understanding of their farm clients.

There is already interest in the new tool with the next round of recruits in Cotton Australia’s 2019 Cotton Gap Year program to use the resource as part of their training.

The STBIFM program is funded through the Australian Government’s Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program (SRWUIP) and is delivered through the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The SRWUIP is a key mechanism of the Australian Government $13 billion Murray–Darling Basin (MDB) Plan.

The STBIFM Irrigation 101 course has been created in partnership with leading rural training service provider Tocal College.


Getting the measure of water allocations in the Murray

Downstream from Hume Dam in the Basin.
Image courtesy of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.

With lowering water storages and much of the Murray–Darling Basin in drought, many people are looking to understand how water is shared and why allocations differ across the Murray system.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority has a responsibility to determine and regularly update how much of the total water in the system belongs to each state. The state governments then work out how much water can be allocated to those who have a licence to use it.

The amount of water available can and does change throughout the year, usually as a result of rainfall boosting the water storages.

Each state has developed its own set of licences and rules around how water is allocated to their licence holders, which means that allocations in one state will be different to those in another.

To get into the detail, visit the MDBA website.


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Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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