Dubbo meet­ing re­views wa­ter plan

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By JOHN RYAN

THE Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion was in Dubbo this past week ask­ing for sub­mis­sions into its re­view of the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan.

Ac­cord­ing to Com­mis­sioner John Mad­den, his agency plays a vi­tally im­por­tant role – and an in­de­pen­dent view.

“We come in for this re­view ev­ery five years as a check and balance. The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Com­mis­sion is in­de­pen­dent from the process, so we al­low that crit­i­cal eye to be cast with­out fear or favour – that in it­self is a good check in the process,” Mr Mad­den told

“We also fo­cus on what’s go­ing to be re­ally ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient go­ing for­ward.”

This round of hear­ings in Mil­dura, Mur­ray Bridge, Shep­par­ton, Dubbo and Can­berra saw a va­ri­ety of is­sues brought up by com­mu­nity mem­bers, some of whom trav­elled for hours to get to the Dubbo sit­ting.

The Com­mis­sion pub­lished a draft re­port in Au­gust on its in­quiry into the ef­fec­tive­ness of the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin Plan (MDBP), and these cur­rent sub­mis­sions are all about hear­ing peo­ple’s re­ac­tions so that those rec­om­men­da­tions can be re­fined and put into a fi­nal re­port to gov­ern­ment by Christ­mas.

Jane Doolan was the other com­mis­sioner at the Dubbo hear­ings.

“What we’ve found in both our ini­tial con­sul­ta­tions and in the cur­rent one is that we’re see­ing some of the plan in ac­tion, and peo­ple are able to see if there’s short­com­ings or is­sues on el­e­ments that need re­fin­ing,” Mrs Doolan said.

“We’ve heard a range of com­ments, all around the basin; the is­sues are dif­fer­ent in ev­ery re­gion but what we are do­ing is ac­tu­ally us­ing that com­men­tary to im­prove our rec­om­men­da­tions.

“The plan is a balance – it’s bal­anced be­tween en­vi­ron­men­tal needs and eco­nomic re­quire­ments and im­pacts on re­gions,” she said, adding that since the plan was first rolled out in 2012 “we’re start­ing to see both the ben­e­fits and ar­eas where im­prove­ments can be made”.

Mrs Doolan main­tains there have been sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments and progress made on the plan with a lot of wa­ter be­ing re­cov­ered, with en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter man­agers work­ing well to­gether to de­liver that wa­ter.

“So there are el­e­ments that are go­ing re­ally well, how­ever the next five years are very chal­leng­ing,” she said.

“What we’re get­ting now is com­mu­nity feed­back which is very valu­able to us. We re­ally value their in­put and we’ve had good par­tic­i­pa­tion around the basin.” John Mad­den agrees.

“It re­ally im­proves our rec­om­men­da­tions. One thing we did was con­sul­ta­tion early on and we heard a lot of the is­sues and did a lot of re­search, but once you for­mu­late your ideas, for im­prove­ment, it’s re­ally good to test (those ideas) with lo­cal knowl­edge,” Mr Mad­den said.

Ian Cole trav­elled from Bourke on be­half of Bar­won Dar­ling Wa­ter to have his say.

He said it’s an emo­tion­ally-charged de­bate.

“A wa­ter shar­ing plan is just that – you’ve got to share wa­ter when it’s there in plenty and you’ve got to share it when it’s scarce, and that’s what we’re do­ing at the mo­ment. We’re try­ing to set rules and re­la­tion­ships be­tween up­stream and down­stream (users) so that wa­ter can be shared eq­ui­tably and used sen­si­bly,” Mr Cole said.

An­other sub­mis­sion was made by Mel Gray who spends much of her time work­ing with Dubbo Mac­quarie Bush­care and with In­land Wa­ter­ways’ River Re­pair Bus.

“The claim of over-re­cov­ery in the Mac­quarie and Gwydir Val­leys has re­sulted in the North­ern Basin Amend­ments re­duc­ing the amount of wa­ter in our en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­counts,” Ms Gray said.

“The amend­ments were cal­cu­lated in a rush, and no new sci­ence was done to as­sess the health and re­silience of the rivers and marshes.

“The modelling used must have been flawed be­cause the data avail­able did not in­clude the vol­umes of wa­ter re­moved from the val­ley by flood­plain har­vest­ing, and the use of cap fac­tors is not trans­par­ent and does not fol­low the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of ac­count­ing,” she said. *John Ryan is em­ployed part-time by Mid Mac­quarie Land­care as a Lo­cal Land­care Co-or­di­na­tor.

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