Hello BREWN members and associates
Thanks to the three people who provided feedback on the draft Technical Working Group workshop notes circulated on 19th February. Suggestions will be incorporated.
At this stage there is not enough new material to warrant a BREWN meeting before the next Northern Basin Advisory Committee (NBAC) meeting in Moree on 8th and 9th April. It is expected that proposals requiring review and feedback will be developed at that meeting.
BREWN is passing on the results of our deliberations to NBAC as it develops advice on what should be included in the Northern Basin Work Plan. The suggested work plan tasks submitted to MDBA by the BREWN Technical Working Group are:
A. Integrate currently disjointed and poorly connected monitoring and evaluation; identify and address the gaps, particularly for biological indicators; establish a reliable benchmark against which future trends in system health can be assessed (Note: current activities were recognised)
B. Establish a concrete link between flow regimes and ecological outcomes that is convincing for non-scientists, with a strong emphasis on defining environmental objectives in tangible terms
C. Coordinate flow modification and non flow activities (which are commonly stand-alone), and formulate an holistic response to the achievement of desired ecological outcomes
D. Model the relative practicality and environmental outcomes of recovering different classes of water in a range of locations
E. Review 143 GL within a framework of new science, improved hydrology, and environmental/ economic/social balance
F. Investigate and document all possible supply and efficiency measures that have the potential to increase Northern Basin SDLs and provide more water for productive purposes
G. Prepare and deliver information sessions to explain in detail how the model has produced the numbers in the Plan for the Northern Basin
H. Identify several different scenarios for water recovery based on classes of water, location, timing of delivery, and any other relevant factors; model these scenarios to ascertain whether the same volume of recovered water results in different flow regimes at Bourke, Louth and the Talyawalka Anabranch
I. Extend catchment modelling to include nutrient loads and pollutants; the eWater model with an ecological response model attached could be considered
J. Develop a strategic gauge enhancement program to enhance modelling capabilities
K. Add a column to the targets/indicators table for each catchment in the Plan to show the improvement from baseline to Plan conditions
L. Clarify the 2009 baseline for the Border Rivers
M. Review the science/hydrology/socioeconomic relativities with a view to achieving the Plan objective of maximising economic, social and environmental benefits
N. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the value of ecosystem services provided by additional water for the environment in the Barwon-Darling
O. Investigate the possibility of discriminating in favour of highly irrigation-dependent communities when it comes to water recovery, with special attention to the different types of water recovery
It is expected that these projects will be combined with suggestions from other NBAC members and refined to become the advice to MDBA on the Work Plan.
At the last meeting in Dubbo MDBA Chair Craig Knowles said that the socio-economic impact of the Basin Plan is the most critical issue to address. The macro studies done to date inflame communities. Fine-grain detail is needed. Local government has to be part of the mix: they must be asked for their help, and government and communities must invest in them to take on this role. Craig Knowles wants this to be the one thing NBAC does with excellence. He wants baselines locked down so that trends can then be monitored.
The Committee discussed the development of a practical community wellbeing index based on selected economic and social indicators, with its implementation to be negotiated with Councils. It was agreed to form a social and economic subcommittee to progress a social and economic project for 2012/13. There was also general interest in the development of a water recovery program in the Northern Basin that minimises buyback in highly irrigation dependent communities.
$1.5 million has been allocated to the Work Plan for the 2012/13 financial year. Initial Northern Basin Work Plan projects proposed by MDBA for 2012/13 and discussed with NBAC are:
• Science Review Project $200,000
• Data Set purchase $600,000
• Water requirements projects $100,000
• Groundwater projects $250,000
• Social and economic project $250,000
• Communications & engagement $100,000
While these initial projects are being undertaken, projects for 2013/14 and 2014/15 will be developed, where appropriate based on the results of the initial projects.
The next meeting of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee is in Moree on 8th and 9th April. The major focus will be on:
• Social and economic analysis
• Communications and engagement
The result is expected to be firm proposals for projects in these areas for the Work Plan.
A Northern Basin Science Forum is being proposed by Guy Roth, Roth Rural and Regional, at Goondiwindi on 13th and 14th May. NBAC will discuss this in Moree.
Views, suggestions and questions are most welcome. A survey will be circulated shortly to gauge attitudes towards current issues, with a particular emphasis on socio-economics.