Environmental flow modelling to be reviewed

MDBA'S environmental modelling in the spotlight


Water
EXPERT PANEL: Victorian Water minister Lisa Neville said the experienced panel members would inform understanding of the effects of removing limits to achieve higher river flows.

EXPERT PANEL: Victorian Water minister Lisa Neville said the experienced panel members would inform understanding of the effects of removing limits to achieve higher river flows.

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Victoria, NSW set up independent environmental flow review panel.

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An expert panel has been appointed to review the modelling that underpins higher environmental water delivery in the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Victorian and NSW Water ministers have appointed the three member panel, which will look at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's modelling.

Ministers agreed to the review at the August Ministerial Council.

Ms Neville said panel members Greg Wilson (Chairperson), George Warne and Campbell Fitzpatrick each had extensive experience in the water industry.

"We know there is concern in the Basin communities that higher flows will have negative impacts on their land - that's why we're ensuring any future decisions are informed by science and best practice," Ms Neville said.

"These experienced panel members will inform our understanding of whether removing limits to achieve higher river flows is practical, can be realistically delivered and will benefit the environment."

Ms Pavey said localism and adaptive management were hard-wired into the Murray Darling Basin Plans DNA, when it was first created.

"NSW has already done the heavy lifting and our communities are suffering as a result," Ms Pavey said.

"South Australian lower lakes are full while NSW communities are dry.

"This review will help us understand whether the flows are achievable during extreme conditions."

Mr Wilson was the former Secretary of the Department of Sustainability and Environment, in charge of water reform in Victoria.

George Warne is experienced in water reform, river restoration and is a former board member of the MDBA and Campbell Fitzpatrick has worked in the water industry for over 30 years.

The review follows community concerns about the impacts of proposed higher flows on land, businesses and local infrastructure.

There is also a lack of clarity about the environmental benefits of these over bank flows and understanding of how authorities will manage operational risks of delivering flows to the targeted rates.

The panel will assess whether the MDBA's existing modelling is sound enough to give communities confidence that higher flows can be delivered in real time, to properly assess and manage risks to landholders, and ensure the environmental outcomes are clear.

The Victorian and NSW Governments will not inundate private land without landholders' consent nor compulsorily acquire land or easements as part of possible adjusting physical and operational limits to higher environmental flows.

The panel will report its findings and any recommendations to Ministers in December.

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