Compliance with Murray Darling Basin water use rules was still one of the major issues facing communities, according to the Productivity Commission.
The PC’s Water Commissioner Professor Jane Doolan told a Committee for Economic Development of Australia lunch, in Melbourne, there had been important progress on the Basin Plan.
She was speaking on the Commission’s recent report, which found water recovery had progressed, environmental watering programs were successful and trading rules and regulations were working.
But Professor Doolan told the lunch every Basin community brought up water management compliance issues.
“It was of real significant concern, it rocked community confidence,” Professor Doolan said.
Professor Doolan said effective compliance underpinned the integrity of entitlements, markets, and water resource management.
She said the rollout of supply and efficiency measures, as well as constraints easing, needed to be done against a background of “real angst’ within the community.
“The community has lost some trust, because of the compliance failures,” Professor Doolan said.
“There are big challenges ahead, and not least of those is restoring the trust of the community in water resource management.”
A spokeswoman for the Murray Darling Basin Authority said many of the issues, outlined in the interim report, were already being addressed.
These included a review of governance arrangements with a focus on improved transparency and strengthened program management and an Office of Compliance.
The MDBA was also carrying out effective and transparent implementation of supply, constraints and efficiency measures.
“Community trust is important to the MDBA, which is why we have established an effective group of regionally based staff to improve communication.”