Water

Basin plan benchmarking criticised

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November 02, 2017

A new independent report on water savings under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has provided fodder for a wave of criticism of the basin plan.A new independent report on water savings under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has provided fodder for a wave of criticism of the basin plan.

A new independent report on water savings under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has provided fodder for a wave of criticism of the basin plan.

The recently released report by an independent group, including former Murray-Darling Basin Commission chief executive officer Don Blackmore, has raised questions over the benchmarking applied in the plan.

Speak Up campaign spokesperson Shelley Scoullar said the focus of all water policy and basin plan implementation must be on achieving efficiencies, not political expediency or ticking bureaucratic boxes.

‘‘This includes SDL water saving projects.

‘‘The Blackmore report highlights issues which the community-based campaign has been raising for two years,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.

‘‘Benchmarking since the implementation of the basin plan has been problematic, and the report’s finding that monitoring and evaluation of the plan is fragmented continues to present concerns.

‘‘If we are taking water from productive use for the environment, it must be used effectively,’’ Mrs Scoullar said.

She said it had been obvious in rural communities impacted by the plan that its objective to meet social, economic and environmental outcomes has not been met, as highlighted in the report. She said it continued to be disappointing that large sections of government would not acknowledge this indisputable fact, despite promises that were made when the plan was developed.

‘‘Speak Up continues to demand that greater effort is made to deliver an effective, balanced basin plan.

‘‘This process must start by bringing the recalcitrant South Australian Government to the table. It must start playing a role as an active participant in developing solutions, instead of continually demanding more from other contributors while refusing to address its own issues.’’

National Irrigators’ Council chief executive officer Steve Whan said he hoped the basin ministers heeded the findings of the report.

He noted with concern the criticism of the benchmarking which was crucial to the figures used in the basin plan.

He was also critical of the pre-occupation with flow figures.

‘‘We are not going to get good environmental results by just applying water flows down the river.

‘‘One of our points is that we need to focus on achieving environmental outcomes, and the complex mechanisms to reaching that. Not just reaching a magical figure.’’

VFF water council chairman Richard Anderson could not see how the basin ministers could sign off on the extra water savings in November, when the report cast doubt on so many calculations relied upon by the MDBA.

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