Environmental Watering Plan for 2006–2007
Published by Murray-Darling Basin Commission Postal Address GPO Box 409, Canberra ACT 2601 Office location Level 5, 15 Moore Street, Canberra City Australian Capital Territory
Telephone (02) 6279 0100 international + 61 2 6279 0100 Facsimile (02) 6248 8053 international + 61 2 6248 8053 E-Mail [email protected]
For further information contact the Murray-Darling Basin Commission office on (02) 6279 0100
This report may be cited as: The Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006–2007
MDBC Publication No. 36/06 ISBN 1 921257 02 4
© Copyright Murray-Darling Basin Commission 2006
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...iv
An environmental management framework for 2006-07 ... iv
Building on the outcomes from 2005-06... iv
Estimated water availability for 2006-07 ... iv
Implementation of the plan for 2006-07 ... iv
Community consultation ... iv
Monitoring and evaluation ... v
1. Introduction ... 1
1.1. Purpose... 1
1.2. Background ... 1
1.3. Relationship between the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan, Icon Site environmental management plans and water recovery ... 2
1.4. Relationship of this plan with the Murray-Darling Basin Intergovernmental Agreement .... 4
1.5. Geographic scope of the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan... 4
1.6. Process for further development of the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan... 5
2. Conceptual framework and decision making forums ... 6
2.1. Planning and reporting ... 6
2.2. Adaptive management ... 6
2.3. Community consultation and communications ... 7
2.4. Indigenous consultation for the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan ... 8
2.5. Environmental Watering Group ... 9
2.6. Icon Site focussed management arrangements... 9
2.7. Roles and responsibilities for operating the River Murray system... 10
3. Objectives of the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan ... 12
3.1. Objectives for The Living Murray First Step decision... 12
3.2. Refining objectives ... 12
3.3. Modifying objectives... 12
4. Operational considerations... 13
4.1. Weir pool management... 13
4.2. Environmental Works and Measures: Environmental management levers at each site ... 13
4.3. Salinity management ... 15
5. Distributing water to the Icon Sites ... 17
5.1. Decision making framework... 17
5.2. Criteria for prioritising competing actions ... 19
5.3. Prioritising environmental management actions... 20
6. Environmental water accounting... 21
6.1. General... 21
6.2. Measuring environmental water use ... 21
6.2.1. Barmah-Millewa Forest Environmental Water Allocation ... 21
6.2.2. River Murray Increased Flow (Murray RMIF), Victorian Flora and Fauna Allocation,
NSW Adaptive Environmental Water and surplus flow use... 22
6.2.3. Diversions via pumps and syphons... 22
6.2.4. Diversions via increased river levels ... 22
6.2.5. Diversions via irrigation canals ... 22
6.3. Rules for managing environmental water use ... 23
6.4. Reporting on environmental water use... 23
7. Potential actions for the Icon Site ... 25
7.1. Principles ... 25
7.2. Outcomes from 2005-06 at a glance... 25
7.3. Overview of potential actions for 2006-07 and relationship to triggers ... 26
7.4. Environmental Water Allocations ... 29
7.4.1. Living Murray Water... 29
7.4.2. State Based Environmental Water Allocations... 29
7.4.3. Status of Barmah-Millewa Environmental Water Allocation ... 30
7.4.4. Surplus water (also known as off-allocation or unregulated water)... 31
7.4.5. River Murray Increased Flows ... 31
7.5. Chance of meeting conditions required to trigger actions ... 32
7.5.1. All years and dry tercile analysis ... 32
7.5.2. Chance of implementing actions in 2006-07 ... 32
7.5.3. Flow forecasting to support the decision making framework ... 36
8. Monitoring and evaluation arrangements... 37
8.1. The Living Murray Outcomes Evaluation Framework... 37
8.1.1. Background and purpose ... 37
8.1.2. Aims and objectives... 37
8.1.3. Continued development of The Living Murray Outcomes Evaluation Framework... 39
8.2. Monitoring and Evaluation for the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 40 8.3. Knowledge Needs ... 40
9. Management of legal and risk related issues ... 41
9.1. General... 41
9.2. Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 ... 41
10. Reporting and adapting future management... 43
10.1. Reporting ... 43
10.1.1. Requirements under The Living Murray Business Plan requirement ... 43
10.1.2. Timelines and responsibilities ... 43
10.2. Adapting future management... 43
10.3. Knowledge gained from environmental management in 2005-06 ... 44
Appendix A ... 46
Appendix B... 49
Appendix C . ... 53
Appendix D ... 54
Appendix E... 57
Appendix F ... 61
Appendix H ... 67
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 ii
List of Acronyms
Icon Site EMPs – Icon site Environmental Management Plans CAC – Community Advisory Committee
COAG - Council of Australian Governments CRG - Community Reference Group
EWG - Environmental Watering Group
LMEWP - Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan MDB - Murray-Darling Basin
MDBC - Murray-Darling Basin Commission
MDB-IGA - Murray-Darling Basin Intergovernmental Agreement MDBMC - Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council
RMW - River Murray Water (the operational arm of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission) SA - South Australia
Icon Sites – previously referred to as significant ecological assets TLM - The Living Murray
WLWG – Water Liaison Working Group
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 iii
An environmental management framework for 2006-07
This plan provides an environmental management framework for application of water across the River Murray system from July 2006 to May 2007 in order to meet the ecological objectives of The Living Murray First Step decision agreed to by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in November 2003.
It fulfils the role of a Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan to support the Business Plan to Address Water Over-Allocation and to Achieve Environmental Objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin (henceforth referred to as ‘The Living Murray Business Plan’).
Building on the outcomes from 2005-06
The 2005–06 season was the most active period of environmental management in the history of River Murray regulation. Over 36,000 ha across the Icon Sites were deliberately watered for environmental purposes. This represents about 10% of the total area of the Icon Sites excluding the River Murray Channel, but <1% of the total River Murray floodplain area (as defined by the 1956 flood level).
The majority of the environmental water used in 2005-06 was derived from the Barmah- Millewa Forest Environmental Water Allocation (EWA), which makes up the largest volume of environmental water available at present in any one season. Given that only smaller entitlements are available outside of the Barmah-Millewa Forest EWA, the volumes of environmental water at the disposal of environmental mangers in 2006-07 will be much less.
Estimated water availability for 2006-07
Current estimates suggest that there will only be a small volume of water available for the Living Murray in the 2006-07 season. Environmental management actions will also rely on existing state based allocations, the management of which will be guided by existing management arrangements within state jurisdictions, and the availability of unregulated (surplus to consumptive demand) flows. The management of unregulated flows will be consistent with the approach outlined in the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.
Implementation of the plan for 2006-07
The Environmental Watering Group will work together with the Water Liaison Working Group as required to oversight the implementation of this plan during the 2006-07season..
Arrangements for community consultation and communications are the same as The Living Murray Business Plan.
Opportunities for community input to the development, implementation and monitoring of the plan will be provided through a targeted consultation process. The Environmental Watering Group will consult with the MDB Ministerial Council Community Advisory Committee’s Living Murray Community Reference Group for community input into the plan. Consultation with Indigenous people is being undertaken through an agreed approach.
Broader consultation may be required to meet the needs of key stakeholders affected by the proposed management actions.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 iv
Monitoring and evaluation
While work continues on the development of a Living Murray Outcomes Evaluation Framework, existing monitoring and evaluation arrangements will be used to evaluate the response to environmental management actions, specifically testing hypotheses related to the objectives for each of the Icon Sites.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 v
1. Introduction1.1. Purpose
This plan provides an environmental management framework for achieving ecological objectives at the six Icon Sites under the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Ministerial Council’s The Living Murray (TLM) First Step decision from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.
The plan is specifically designed for use by environmental managers across the land, water and environment agencies of the Murray-Darling Basin partner governments. It will also be of value to other stakeholders with an interest in the achievement of the ecological objectives for TLM at the Icon Sites.
On 25 June 2004, First Ministers of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia the Australian Capital Territory and the Australian Government signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on Addressing Water Overallocation and Achieving Environmental Objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin (the Intergovernmental Agreement).
The Murray Darling Basin Intergovernmental Agreement (MDB-IGA) gives effect to the August 2003 decision by southern Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) jurisdictions to commit
$500 million over five years to address water over-allocation in the MDB with an initial focus on achieving specific environmental outcomes for six Icon Sites along the River Murray.
The MDB-IGA mandates the development of a Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan (LMEWP) (Clause 58):
‘The MDB Ministerial Council will develop in consultation with regional communities and within 12 months of the commencement of this Agreement, an environmental watering plan based on best available science which will address use of the recovered water to achieve the agreed environmental objectives of the Living Murray First Step decision (the Basin Environmental Watering Plan).’
This LMEWP fulfils the role of the Basin Environmental Watering Plan.
The Business Plan to Address Water Over-Allocation and to Achieve Environmental Objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin was activated by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in April 2005 (the Business Plan) describes how the actions and milestones in the MDB-IGA are to be achieved.
The Business Plan states that the purpose of the LMEWP (Clause 99) is to:
‘ … apply available water in a way that enhances ecological outcomes across the six significant ecological assets, protects existing high value areas or areas in good condition and realises the greatest environmental benefit from the water’.
In doing this the LMEWP will coordinate the volume, timing, security and application of water required to meet the ecological objectives of The Living Murray (TLM) First Step decision agreed to by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council (MDBMC) in November 2003 (Appendix A).
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 1
The LMEWP for 2006-07 provides a management framework for application of environmental water across the River Murray system for the season. It addresses the
requirements of the plan as outlined in Annex E of the Business Plan, including the following:
• ecological objectives and outcomes for the six significant ecological assets (Icon Sites) agreed to by Ministerial Council in November 2003;
• potential actions for each site consistent with the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement and The Living Murray First Step decision’s objectives;
• triggers for these actions and expected outcomes;
• assessment of the likelihood of meeting conditions to trigger actions;
• methods for prioritising between actions competing for water;
• estimated water availability over the year – volumes and locations;
• implementation roles and responsibilities;
• identification of priority actions for the year;
• links to The Living Murray Environmental Works and Measures Program;
• monitoring, evaluation and reporting measures to be undertaken; and
• adaptive management measures.
1.3. Relationship between the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan, Icon Site environmental management plans and water recovery
The Living Murray environmental management plans for the Icon Sites (Icon Site EMPs) are to be developed and agreed to each year by the MDBMC for each of the six Icon Sites identified under TLM First Step decision. The Icon Site EMPs build on the ecological objectives set out in the First Step decision, and identify the specific watering regime
(volume, timing and security) needed at the Icon Sites to meet those objectives. The Icon Site EMPs establish the demand side of TLM (Figure 1.1).
Jurisdictions and other parties will bring forward water recovery packages for consideration by the MDBMC. Once the MDBMC accredits packages they will be placed on a register ready for investment by jurisdictions. The water recovery packages provide the supply side of TLM (Figure 1.1).
The demand and supply sides of TLM are brought together in the LMEWP. The function of the LMEWP is to match the available water against individual Icon Site watering needs, and through a process of system modelling, recommend water application regimes that achieve ecological outcomes across all six Icon Sites using available water whilst reducing the likely impact on existing users.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 2
Figure 1.1 Relationship between supply and demand sides of The Living Murray and the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan. Adapted from Figure 1 of the Business Plan.
Water Recovery Packages Purpose
• Models water needs against available water
• Maximises environmental outcomes across the six Icon Sites, including re-use of water across multiple sites in the same
• EWG to develop Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan Consultation
• EWG to work closely with Icon Site managers, Community Advisory Committee (CAC) , River Murray Environmental Manager, Living Murray Environmental Works and Measures Program, River Murray Water and Water Liaison Committee
ENVIRONMENTAL WATERING PLAN
• Further refine Icon Site ecological objectives at each site
• Identify water requirements for each Icon Site
• Establish benchmarks for resource condition of sites
• Determine other actions that are required at sites in order to achieve ecological outcomes
• Jurisdictions to appoint Icon Site manager for each Icon Site
• Environmental Watering Group (EWG) to manage River Murray Channel (RMC) Environmental Management Plan
• Other environmental management plans for the Icon Sites (Icon Site EMPs) to be assessed by EWG for conformity with Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan
• Cross-jurisdictional arrangements to be established for cross-border sites
• Monitoring and information requirements to be identified Consultation
• Lead Icon Site manager to manage consultation process
• For RMC Icon Site EMP, EWG to consult with the CAC’s Community Reference Group (CRG).
The Living Murray Environment Management Plans for the Icon Sites
• Proponent to undertake consultation
• Packages must demonstrate that legislative requirements have been met and provide evidence of consultation with all groups with material interest (Annex K of the Business Plan)
• Identify water recovery investment opportunities for jurisdictions Management
• Packages to be developed by jurisdictions
• Project Assessment Group to assess applications for listing on Eligible Measures Register (Annex F of the Business Plan), then advise the Living Murray Committee, Murray-Darling Basin Commission and Murray- Darling Basin Ministerial Council
The LMEWP will strongly influence water supply by encouraging development of, and investment in, packages that deliver water in a way that meets the needs of the Icon Sites (Figure 1.1). The relationship between Icon Site EMPs, the LMEWP and water recovery is further elaborated on in the Business Plan.
1.4. Relationship of this plan with the Murray-Darling Basin Intergovernmental Agreement
The MDB-IGA provides the process and substance for the integrated management of the Murray-Darling Basin. The purpose of the MDB-IGA (Clause 1) is:
‘to promote and co-ordinate effective planning and management for the equitable efficient and sustainable use of the water, land and other environmental resources of the Murray-Darling Basin.’
The MDB-IGA provides the statutory framework within which the parties responsible for the development and implementation of the LMEWP and the Icon Site EMPs will work to achieve the specific objectives of the First Step decision.
Therefore, the LMEWP has been designed to be nested within, and fully complementary to, other actions falling under the ambit of the MDB-IGA and its MDBMC and Commission.
This means that the LMEWP operates on the principle of one water account and one watering plan. The LMEWP forms a subset within these, with links to existing water entitlement arrangements and provisions and arrangements associated with operation of the River Murray system by the MDBC’s operational arm, River Murray Water (RMW).
1.5. Geographic scope of the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan
The geographic scope of the LMEWP is the River Murray system. By definition, the River Murray system is that part of the river system that is under the operational control of RMW and includes:
• the main course of the River Murray and all its effluents and anabranches;
• Mitta Mitta River below Dartmouth Dam;
• Darling River downstream of the Menindee Lake storage when Menindee Lakes are under MDBC control;
• Murray-Darling Basin Commission works - Dartmouth Dam, Hume Dam,
Yarrawonga Weir, Lake Victoria, weirs and locks along the River Murray, and the barrages near the mouth of the River Murray;
• Menindee Lakes storage, when under MDBC control; and
• the destination within an Icon Site.
Operational management of the River Murray system is also influenced by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. This plan will address coordinated management of water recovered for the River Murray with the $75 million committed to the Snowy Water Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed
The scope of the LMEWP includes coordinated management of the Murrumbidgee and Goulburn rivers to the extent that water has been sourced there for the purpose of The Living Murray. However, there is also a need for this plan to inform management of a range of regulated and unregulated tributary inflows, and be able to adapt River Murray system operations accordingly.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 4
1.6. Process for further development of the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan
It is expected that the LMEWP will need further development over the coming years to ensure that the plan is robust and reflects the latest information and understanding of the relevant river and wetland systems and water delivery and recovery issues.
Consistent with TLM Business Plan, each year an updated LMEWP, with operational information relevant to the coming season, will be submitted to the MDBMC for approval.
Icon Site EMPs will also be developed for MDBMC approval annually. These will be reviewed regularly and if necessary updated, as part of an adaptive management approach in response to information arising from monitoring, further investigations, modelling and consultation.
The 2006-07 season marks the first for which Icon Site EMPs are available for each Icon Site.
The Environmental Watering Group (EWG) will work with the Icon Site managers to ensure implementation of each Icon Site EMPs achieves the best system wide outcomes.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 5
2. Conceptual framework and decision making forums2.1. Planning and reporting
In the initial years of implementing water application arrangements for TLM, the Icon Site EMPs and the LMEWP will be updated each year as new information becomes available and will incorporate strategic long-term objectives as well as annual priorities. These will be complemented by reports produced at the end of each season, outlining information relevant to actions implemented under the LMEWP and the Icon Site EMPs.
The long term component of plans will provide a broad strategic framework to coordinate the efficient delivery of environmental water across the system, and to manage environmental water within a sitet to achieve long-term objectives.
Each year the LMEWP will be guided by annual priorities expressed in Icon Site EMPs and will operate in a way consistent with, and complementary to, the RMW Annual Operating Plan. Annual priorities will be identified for environmental watering for the season ahead, taking into account the water requirements to meet the environmental objectives, and factors such as the time since the last watering and the condition of the Icon Sites.
The LMEWP produced each year will coordinate the management of environmental water from a ‘system’ perspective (ie. across all Icon Sites), and will identify ‘opportunities’ to deliver environmental outcomes at the Icon Sites. It will also outline operating rules designed specifically for this purpose of coordinated water delivery.
2.2. Adaptive management
In November 2003, the MDBMC agreed that the specific ecological objectives and outcomes for each Icon Site should be achieved through application of ‘adaptive management approach’
ie. learning by doing through the testing of pre-defined management oriented hypotheses.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 6
Figure 2.1. The main stages in an adaptive management framework1.
This plan has been developed consistent with an adaptive management approach (Figure 2.1).
This is reflected in the structure of the plan which addresses objectives, potential actions, operating rules, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Specific measures for adapting future management are explored in Chapter 10.
2.3. Community consultation and communications
In developing the LMEWP, the EWG is required to consult with the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council’s Community Advisory Committee’s Living Murray Community Reference Group. The Group comprises representatives from the Indigenous community, Local Government, environment, irrigation, business, commercial fishing, forestry and the general community.
Consultation with Indigenous people will be undertaken through an agreed approach outlined in section 2.4.
Broader consultation may be required to meet the needs of key stakeholders affected by the proposed management actions. In accordance with the Business Plan (Clause 131) the consultation process will engage regional groups that have an interest or role in managing the River Murray system, including tributary interests where relevant. When required, broader consultation will be managed by the MDBC office with direction from the Environmental Watering Group and the Living Murray Committee.
1 Bosch, O., Ross, H., Witt, B., and Smith, C. (2004). Guidelines for Adaptive Management: Outcomes of the OzAM 2003 workshop, Brisbane. A report to the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, April 2004.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 7
The purpose of consultation is to:
a) inform stakeholders about the plan;
b) seek input on key aspects of the plan, including preferred methods of communication and consultation on the plan’s implementation; and
c) establish long-term arrangements for involving key stakeholders in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of future plans.
Consultation with the Living Murray Community Reference Group on the LMEWP was undertaken at the group’s March 2006 meeting. Input was sought on key themes of the plan, with extensive feedback provided for consideration.
A Living Murray Communication Plan was endorsed by the Murray-Darling Basin
Ministerial Council in May 2006. The implementation of this plan aims to raise awareness of the Living Murray activity and achievements in a timely way.
2.4. Indigenous consultation for the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan Indigenous communities have spiritual and cultural connections to their country, and should be actively involved in all levels of natural resource management.
To help ensure that Indigenous community knowledge, values and perspectives are taken into consideration, TLM Committee has approved the TLM Indigenous Partnerships Project Plan.
The plan presents a principle-based approach that ensures consistent and grounded
involvement of Indigenous people in line with the MDBC Indigenous Action Plan (IAP). It is aimed at achieving inclusive, meaningful and effective outcomes for TLM and Indigenous and other Basin communities, creating a true partnership.
TLM Indigenous Partnerships Project Plan outlines a process for Indigenous involvement at the Icon Sites based on the employment of local Indigenous facilitators. The local Indigenous facilitator will bring together community members to produce use and occupancy maps which will illustrate Indigenous input in a format that will relate to the sustainable management of the Icon Site. Indigenous working groups will be established for the Icon Sites to guide and ensure the process of Indigenous involvement is undertaken in a culturally appropriate way.
Generally consultation with Indigenous people will take a broad and inclusive approach giving appropriate respect to the authority and responsibility of Traditional Owners, while allowing governments to fulfil their statutory obligations to consult with Indigenous legal entities or organisations within their own jurisdictions.
As a Traditional Owner representative organisation, the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations (MLDRIN) will provide strategic advice with regard to Indigenous perspectives for the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan. In line with the
Memorandum of Understanding, MLDRIN will also promote involvement of the Indigenous nations along the Murray and facilitate cooperation and coordination between Indigenous nations and government.
In developing the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan input from MLDRIN will be sought in all relevant aspects of environmental flow management to ensure the aspirations, interests and contributions of Indigenous people are recognised and considered. Indigenous people need to be involved in the conservation and management of natural resources to ensure appropriate protection and perpetuation of their cultural heritage.
It is the responsibility of the Environmental Watering Group to ensure that the consultation processes for Indigenous communities are implemented as outlined in clauses 134 and 138 of The Living Murray Business Plan in parallel with wider community consultation.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 8
2.5. Environmental Watering Group
The EWG will be the lead committee under the MDBC for developing and implementing water application arrangements for the Icon Sites in accordance with TLM Business Plan.
The EWG will develop and implement the LMEWP and ensure that the Icon Site EMPs are developed in a manner consistent with other plans, including the LMEWP and the RMW Annual Operating Plan. The EWG will also develop and implement the River Murray Channel Environmental Management Plan.
The EWG will work in close coordination with water and environmental managers in jurisdictions, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council’s Community Advisory Committee, the River Murray Environmental Manager, RMW and the Water Liaison
Working Group (WLWG). The full range of responsibilities of the EWG, its membership and other relevant issues are outlined in its Terms of Reference in Appendix B.
2.6. Icon Site focussed management arrangements
Each of the Icon Sites already has in place arrangements for management of land and water resources relevant to the site. These arrangements have been developed to meet objectives relating to regional, state, national and international programs and initiatives. Examples include the Advisory Group on Hume to Yarrawonga Waterway Management relevant to the River Murray Channel Icon Site. Further arrangements specifically associated with
implementation of TLM First Step decision have now been established at many of the Icon Sites and are outlined in more detail in each Icon Site EMPs.
A generic set of guidelines for the Integrated Coordination Committee (ICC) has also been established. These guidelines specify the minimum requirements of the function of the ICC in relation to the Icon Site EMPs which is to oversee the development and implementation and consultation of the plans. The guidelines are at Attachment F.
The Business Plan indicates that jurisdictions will nominate to the MDB Commission an Icon Site manager to develop and implement the Icon Site EMP and undertake appropriate
consultation. Where an Icon Site crosses state boundaries (a cross-border site), one of the jurisdictional Icon Site managers is required to take the lead role. A summary of these arrangements is provided in Table 2.1.
Table 2.1. Icon Site managers and their agencies for the six Icon Sites.
* denotes the lead site manager for cross-border sites.
Icon Site Organisation Position
New South Wales* State Forests of NSW Regional Manager, Riverina Victoria
Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE)
Regional Manager, North East Gunbower-Koondrook-
NSW State Forests of NSW Regional Manager, Riverina
Victoria* DSE Regional Manager, North West
Victoria DSE Regional Manager, North West
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 9
Chowilla Floodplain and Lindsay-Wallpolla Islands NSW
New South Wales Department of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Planning (DIPNR), Albury
Regional Director, Murray and Murrumbidgee
Victoria DSE Regional Manager, North West
South Australia Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board
The River Murray Environmental Manager Lower Lakes, Coorong and
Murray Mouth SA
South Australia Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board
The River Murray Environmental Manager River Murray Channel
NSW component of the River Murray Channel
Department of Natural Resources, Albury
Regional Director, Murray and Murrumbidgee
2.7. Roles and responsibilities for operating the River Murray system
Operation of the River Murray system is directed by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s operational arm River Murray Water (RMW) according to the provisions of the 1992 Murray- Darling Basin Agreement and an evolving set of provisions agreed to by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. This role has its origins with the establishment of the River Murray Commission in 1917.
RMW has responsibility for directing river operations and modelling to support operational decisions and policy development. The River Murray system structures include:
• four major storages - Dartmouth and Hume Dams, Menindee Lakes (when under MDBC control) and Lake Victoria;
• Yarrawonga Weir;
• thirteen weirs and locks;
• five barrages located near the river mouth, forming Lakes Alexandrina and Albert; and
• a number of flow regulating structures (such as Barmah-Millewa forest regulators).
With regard to the implementation of environmental management activities in this plan, RMW will:
• provide advice during the development of environmental flow rules and procedures to ensure their operational feasibility;
• provide the system wide context for environmental watering through the Annual Operating Plan for the entire River Murray system (this plan is continually updated to account for changing conditions as the year progresses);
• make operational decisions for River Murray system flow control works (large and small) and issue instructions to the relevant state operating authorities – to do this RMW coordinates River Murray system water management with that of the Snowy Scheme and state managed river systems;
• during ‘real time’ environmental events:
o monitor river levels and flows o provide forecast flow patterns
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 10
o provide advice on the availability of ‘surplus’ river flows
issue instructions to flow control structures for the management of flows an river levels including
regulator openings in coordination with advice from
• ruct, operate, maintain
and renew infrastructure works on its Icon Sites Register.
tes and major diverters and channel capacity onstraints across the length of the system.
ments share in making day to day ecisions regarding water delivery and water accounting.
, ic er key g authorities and community interest groups as necessary to ensure a coordinated response.
each Icon Site EMP;
o keep operational water and environmental accounts; and oversee a program by state constructing authorities to const
System operation is complex given the level of development for consumptive use, the long travel times, location and capacity of both si
The WLWG is the forum through which the partner govern d
The EWG has agreed to establish clearly defined roles and responsibilities for the
management arrangements in this plan and other Icon Sites. However, pending this review and for specific flow events affecting operation of River Murray system works at specif locations, event management groups will continue to be convened by the MDBC in co- operation with the River Murray Environmental Manager. These groups bring togeth representatives of natural resource agencies, catchment management organisations, constructin
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 11
3. Objectives of the Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan3.1. Objectives for The Living Murray First Step decision
Environmental management actions outlined in this plan will address the ecological
objectives and outcomes agreed to by the MDBMC in November 2003 under TLM First Step decision.
Details of this decision, including the ecological objectives identified by MDBMC, are at Appendix A. The six Icon Sites were chosen for their national and international significance (five of the six Icon Sites include Ramsar-listed wetlands) and are considered important areas for a range of ecological processes.
The six Icon Sites are (Appendix C):
• Barmah-Millewa Forest (New South Wales and Victoria);
• Gunbower-Koondrook-Perricoota Forest (New South Wales and Victoria);
• Hattah Lakes (Victoria);
• Chowilla Floodplain and Lindsay-Wallpolla Islands (New South Wales, Victoria and SA);
• the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth (SA); and
• the River Murray Channel (New South Wales, Victoria and SA).
3.2. Refining objectives
Further work needs to be undertaken to refine and quantify the objectives agreed to by the MDBMC in November 2003 so that they can more directly inform environmental
management actions. Quantified objectives will be more easily measured and thus reported against.
The refined objectives will be a feature of the LMEWP and Icon Site EMPs and will form the basis of objectives for annual plans. They will also act to inform the water regime required for each Icon Site and preferences for water recovery.
3.3. Modifying objectives
Hydrological modelling combined with the hydrological interpretation of ecological objectives will enable Icon Site managers to determine to what extent it is feasible to meet TLM First Step decision objectives. Where results show that it is not possible with the current package of water and works and measures, the MDBMC will be notified. If a process for modifying the objectives is deemed necessary, it will be developed by the EWG. If required, the MDBC’s MSM BigMod simulation model for the River Murray system will be used to establish the impact of these water requirements on the overall system. This will include the ability to deliver and the requirements for the application of water recovered under TLM.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 12
4. Operational considerations4.1. Weir pool management
During 2006-07 weir pool levels will be managed where possible to enhance the ability to meet environmental objectives at the six Icon Sites. Thirteen locks and weirs (ten of which are located downstream of the Darling River junction) as well as Yarrawonga Weir on the River Murray are managed to maintain a relatively stable water level suitable for navigation, gravity diversions to irrigation districts, pumping for irrigation, stock and domestic, urban and
Manipulation of weir pool levels at greater ranges about full supply level (FSL) provides an opportunity to:
• periodically raise weir levels during high river flows to enhance floodplain inundation and increase flows down distributary creeks and flood runners; and
• periodically lower water levels to provide an opportunity to temporarily reduce the water level in wetlands subject to permanent inundation and to enhance riverbank stability.
The operational flexibility for manipulating weir pool levels is unique for each structure. As such, proposals to manipulate weir pool levels need to be considered on a case by case basis.
River Murray Water, in consultation with state agencies and interest groups, has pre-
considered a range of factors in relation to the current operational flexibility at each lock/weir, including:
• upper and lower limits to weir pool level, as determined by ‘safe working range charts’ for each structure;
• desired rates of rise and fall; and
• seasonality (considers operational and environmental requirements).
Information for each of the above factors is summarised in a weir manipulation operating plan for 2006-07 (see River Murray Channel Icon Site Environmental Management Plan for 2006- 07, Appendix 12). In addition, potential triggers and sources of water for weir raising have been identified. State agencies will need to confirm such details at the time of a weir raising event. This plan will be updated as necessary throughout the season in light of new
A proforma has also been developed to outline the steps to follow when proposing and implementing weir pool manipulation (see River Murray Channel Icon Site Environmental Management Plan for 2006-07, Appendix 13). The steps include the development, submission and approval of a proposal, through to implementation and review of management actions.
The information in the weir manipulation operating plan will assist in completing several sections of the proforma.
4.2. Environmental Works and Measures: Environmental management levers at each site
In 2005-06, the Environmental Works and Measures Program moved into its third year of operation with 25 projects being implemented across the six Icon Sites or as complementary investigations and actions.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 13
Key 2005/06 achievements include:
• completion of feasibility studies for enhanced water management throughout the Barmah Forest including the development of a hydraulic model
• completion of the construction works for Stage I of the I08 Gunbower Environmental Flow Management project, including construction of the Little Gunbower Creek and Barham Cut regulators, refurbishment of the Shillinglaws regulator and removal of Wattles regulator
• continued feasibility studies for the Torrumbarry cutting, a channel to deliver water into the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest from the Torrumbarry weir pool
• feasibility study of the effectiveness of five new regulators and a pumping station to delivery water to priority areas of the lakes system, including development of a hydraulic model.
Chowilla Floodplain and Lindsay-Wallpolla Islands
• start of construction for Stage I of the I03 Improved Flow Management of the Lindsay- Wallpolla System project, including the construction of regulators for Horseshoe and Webster’s Lagoons
• feasibility studies for a range of new regulators on the lower Lindsay River and Potterwalkagee Creek, including development of a hydraulic model from Lock 10 – 6.
Concept design for a regulator on the upper Potterwalkagee Creek on Mulcra Island
• evaluation of the potential ecological benefits for Mulcra Island of Lock 8 weir pool raising
• approval for a trial groundwater management project on the Bookpurnong Floodplain
• concept designs for new regulating structures for Chowilla Creek, Pipeclay Creek Weir, Slaneys Creek Weir and Bank E. Development of a hydrodynamic model of the Chowilla Floodplain
• ent to be utilised for future red gum
watering activities on the Chowilla Floodplain
movement and fish passage between the Lower Lakes and the Coorong estuary
• ation to the rock ramp fishway for small fish passage on the Tauwitchere Barrage
purchase of two sets of mobile pumping equipm
Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth
completion of 24 automated gates on the barrages to provide greater operational flexibility and control of water
evaluation and modific
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 14
River Murray Channel
• approval to implement the resnagging program to provide fish habitat at three key sites
• Packer’s Crossing regulator on the Great Darling Anabranch to
• awonga reach and evaluation of
iver flows up to 50,000 ML/day to assist ements
• y assessment methodologies for EWMP projects and proposed protocols for
Pro 07 year include:
• tage 1 regulators on Lindsay and Wallpolla Islands;
P nk E weirs; and
ga Resnagging program.
with the High Level Working Group on Salt terception to develop rules for monitoring and modelling the impact of water application on
ows as ell as the possibility of increased salt loads from applying environmental water to some
der salinity impacts of management actions, in the context of the in the Hume to Yarrawonga reach.
• construction of a new fishway at Lock 10 construction of the
allow delivery of up to 2000 ML/day of environmental flow through the anabranch to the River Murray
• evaluation of the ecological benefits associated with weir pool raising at Locks 1, 4, 5 and 6
development of a hydraulic model of the Hume to Yarr the inundation area on adjacent properties at r
with the acquisition of environmental flow eas Complementary Investigations & Actions
development of salinit
revision of the Basin Salinity Management Strategy (BSMS) operational environmental flows.
jects due for completion and construction during the 2006-
• detailed design of fishways at Locks 3, 2, 4, 5 and 11;
completion of the s
• initial construction of a pumping station and regulators at Hattah Lakes and regulators on Mulcra Island;
• detailed design of works on the Chowilla Floodplain and construction of f ipeclay, Slaneys and Ba
• completion of Stage 1 of the Hume to Yarrawon 4.3. Salinity management
Clause 106 of TLM Business Plan indicates that the:
‘Environmental Watering Group will work In
salt loads at Morgan. This activity will draw together activities under this Business Plan and the Basin Salinity Management Strategy.’
It is recognised that there are potential impacts of salinity mitigation measures on fl w
floodplains. Under the BSMS, any action that increases the salt load needs to be accounted Any actions taken under this plan in 2006-07 will be assessed for salinity impacts.
The LMEWP will consi
BSMS, through existing modelling processes. Any actions taken under this plan will be assessed for salinity impacts. If these are significant, the BSMS Implementation Working Group will be notified.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 15
Fur r TLM an
sed by both programs to ifically the six significant ecological Icon Sites);
• st functions associated with EC’s for environmental impacts;
report scoping the requirements for progressing these tasks has been completed and work gainst these tasks will proceed during 2006-07. A report on progress on these tasks will be provided in the 2007-08 version of the LMEWP.
the more, a range of actions have been identified to achieve coordinated outcomes across d BSMS. These actions include:
• developing a common, transparent accounting process to be u
address the impacts of management actions on salt, water and the environment (spec
• designing a protocol for evaluation of investment decisions;
revising the salinity co
• the inclusion of TLM in the BSMS mid-term review (2007) and BSMS in TLM Business Plan review
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 16
5. Distributing water to the Icon Sites5.1. Decision making framework
Given the variation in type of water that may be available for environmental and consumptive use under existing arrangements as well as the existing institutional arrangements for
allocation of existing water, a decision making framework has been developed to set the institutional boundaries and relationships between the EWG, the MDBC and the jurisdictions.
The decision making framework addresses four key areas.
1. provides a means of identifying if an action will be resource neutral or otherwise;
2. provides a means for identifying the environmental water available for application at the Icon Sites;
3. establishes a clear relationship between EWG and existing jurisdictional arrangements;
4. provides an approach for allocating water between competing actions.
Figure 5.1 illustrates the decision making framework for identifying the available water for delivery to the Icon Sites and for prioritising the delivery of water between Icon Sites where a trade-off arises. The framework identifies types of water and the responsibility of the EWG in overseeing the implementation of the decision making framework.
First, each Icon Site EMP will need to identify the flow requirements that have the potential to meet TLM First Step decision objectives. Secondly, they will need to identify a set of actions that can be called upon if an opportunity arises to water an Icon Site. A trigger will be used to signal where an opportunity may arise. Once the trigger is activated, an assessment will be made to identify the Icon Site where the trigger represents an opportunity for implementing an action.
Once a trigger is set off, a series of decision points will identify what type of water is available and whose responsibility it is. These decision points will identify if the water is TLM water, and therefore available for use at the Icon Site for which it represents an opportunity.
In Figure 5.1, RMW will determine the type and volume of surplus flows available (decision point 10, Figure 5.1) and work with the EWG to determine the environmental water
requirements. Water will then be classed as state environmental (decision point 13),
consumptive use only (decision point 14) or shared environmental water (decision point 15).
Where TLM water is available, it is possible that two or more of the Icon Sites may have competing water requirements. This is where a trade-off needs to be made between the Icon Sites. In this case, the trade-off criteria in section 5.2 will be applied to identify which Icon Site is recommended for application of the water.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 17
Filter # 2:
A. Quantify trade-offs for water delivery between sites
B. Apply trade-off criteria
C. Prioritise environmental watering Figure 5.1 Decision Making
8 7 5 3 2 1
Site specific allocation that can fully meet identified actions
Trigger is set off, including
What water is available?
Potential actions and associated triggers for the season – prepare an ‘event ready’ list of priority actions – to be signed off by Ministerial Council
Implement Is the action resource
Icon Site Managers identify flow requirements at each Icon Site to meet FSD objectives
State water determ
- RMW ine Surplus flows available
Shared environmental water
decide on distribution of surplus flows
Responsibility for determining use of water
Recommendation to MDBC on ranking of actions
Filter # 1:
A. Identify the Icon Sites where the trigger represents an opportunity
B. Prioritisation of use of water and identify
potential trade-offs between Icon Sites State implementation
Consumptive use only State Environmental Water
20 RMIF (Snowy)
State Water to Box 16
RMW advise on what is possible
Monitoring, evaluation and accounting
Monitoring, evaluation and accounting
In all circumstances, environmental water will only be applied where an opportunity to achieve environmental outcomes is identified ie. even if TLM water is available. This may be a product of the volume of water not being adequate to water the Icon Site (ie. not identified as a flow requirement for a given objective) or the pattern of delivery being deemed
insufficient to meet a flow requirement.
Also, under some flow scenarios, it is possible that no trigger will be set off (decision point 3). In this case, an ‘event’ horizon (ie. the time at which an environmental management opportunity or event commences) is not crossed.
5.2. Criteria for prioritising competing actions
In some instances, there will be a trade-off between opportunities to use environmental water across two or more Icon Sites. For example, use of unregulated (surplus to consumptive demand) flows at upstream Icon Sites may reduce the potential for subsequent use of water at downstream Icon Sites. Where a trade-off between environmental outcomes is identified, a process to rank competing actions is required.
A two step process is to be used for this plan. The first step is assessment of whether competing environmental watering actions are consistent with TLM First Step decision objectives. Actions which are not directed at the TLM First Step decision objectives will not be favoured.
The second step requires application of the following criteria, which assess actions that compete for environmental water. They are:
1. Significance of the predicted ecological outcomes, specifically:
a) conservation status of the wetland area involved;
b) actual area of wetland to be watered;
c) whether watering will result in a breeding event for birds/fish or regeneration event for a vegetation community and if so, what is the conservation status of the
d) whether the watering will save a wetland/vegetation community from serious and imminent degradation*, and if so, what is the conservation status of the
e) are works or other actions required as well as water to achieve the predicted
ecological outcomes, and if so, will they be operational prior to implementation of the action; and
f) alleviation of any other exacerbating ecological factors.
2. Watering history of an Icon Site ie. number and magnitude of recent watering events:
3. Identification of any ecological costs of the action:
a) off-site impacts eg. salt mobilisation; and
b) the extent to which use of water at one Icon Site limits water availability for actions at downstream Icon Sites ie. sequential watering of Icon Sites;
4. Distribution of water between competing actions on consumptive users:
5. Financial costs associated with a proposed action eg. pumping.
* This represents an ecological expression of the impact of reduced flood frequency, considered hydrologically as ‘dryness’.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 19
Once the proposals are ranked, other issues will be considered such as the readiness to learn from an event (ie. whether there is a monitoring program in place to collect information to test hypotheses and help improve future management decisions). It is intended that the criteria outlined above will only be used where proposed actions compete for watering opportunities.
Given that operational decisions will have to be made as events unfold and without the benefit of knowing what flows may transpire, information required to apply the criteria will be based on the best information available at the time and with understanding that the nature of a flow event may change.
The criteria may be reviewed in subsequent years. Further developments will include determination of a method to codify assessments against the criteria and to quantify, where possible, significant ecological outcomes in relative terms.
Any assessment using these criteria will be qualitative and carried out by the EWG. An assessment using this method would not solely determine which Icon Site water would be allocated to, but would be used in the development of advice to Commission.
It is important that the communication of the reason behind trade-off decisions being made is clear to all stakeholders. The strategy for communication of the process for determining trade- offs, and communication of the actual actions will be developed through the EWG.
5.3. Prioritising environmental management actions
The LMEWP needs to inform operational planning requirements in the short term (ie. real time), medium term (annual planning) and long term (trade-offs over a period of a number of years) with respect to prioritising environmental management actions.
In regard to short and medium term planning that involves trade-off decisions between sites, the role of the EWG is to confirm whether an event should occur or not. In contrast, the role of Icon Site operations committees is to implement the actions agreed for their respective sites. In the longer-term, a ‘one river’ approach considering system wide trade-offs is best developed through hydrological modelling (to optimise outcomes with acceptable impacts).
As part of the annual planning process, the EWG conducted a preliminary trade-off process between Icon Sites for the coming season. This involved the identification of potential management actions for each Icon Site under a range of indicative flow scenarios: very dry (<5% of years); dry (6-16% of years); moderate (17-83% of years); wet (> 83% of years).
Each action was then assessed against a number of criteria including its objectives, hydrological triggers, ecological need and cost and subsequently prioritised. The results of this work will inform water distribution in the coming season and will be reported on in the annual report for this plan.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 20
6. Environmental water accounting
The requirement to develop environmental water accounting arrangements is described in TLM Business Plan (eg. Section E and Annex E of TLM Business Plan). In the context of this plan, environmental water accounting is taken to consist of three main components:
• Measurement - assesses the volume of water used at an Icon Site and where possible estimates the return flows;
• Rules – the arrangements for managing environmental entitlements including their storage, spillage, delivery and use; and
• Reporting – communication of the status of environmental water accounts, either before, during, or after use of environmental entitlements.
The following sections describe current or future arrangements in relation to these accounting components.
6.2. Measuring environmental water use
The methods for measuring environmental water use will depend on:
• the properties of the environmental water;
• where the environmental water is used; and
• the water delivery mechanism.
A variety of methods are described below, which have been developed through experience with application of environmental water in recent years. These will continue to be developed and refined during 2006-07 and updated in the LMEWP for 2007-08.
In all cases RMW will be responsible for incorporating this information in to the RMW Monthly Water Accounts where the data is available.
6.2.1. Barmah-Millewa Forest Environmental Water Allocation
Accounting for water released the Barmah-Millewa Forest Environmental Water Allocation (BMF EWA) presently follows two principles that were developed during the initial
modelling and development of the Interim Operating Rules for the BMF EWA. These principles were confirmed by the RMW Water Liaison Working Group in 2006.
Principle 1 - The EWA is accounted as the additional demand on the release from Hume Reservoir. Water debited from the EWA will be the ‘additional’ demand on the release, above and beyond the demand required for other river operations, to meet the environmental objectives of the forest.
Principle 2 - Feedback loop to take into account improvement in resource availability. This principle allows for the downstream impacts of high tributary inflows and the release of the BMF EWA over the previous days/weeks to be taken into account when estimating the current and future demand at Hume Reservoir. For example, as the BMF EWA release occurs and the forecast level in Lake Victoria improves, this principle can result in a reduction in the flow required at Yarrawonga Weir for other river operations, and result in a greater call on the release of the EWA to make up the difference.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 21
RMW has developed two methods to measure the use of the EWA on a daily basis;
Method 1 - determines the difference in the release from Hume Reservoir using the RMW operational spreadsheets between two scenarios; the actual release including the release of the EWA and a hypothetical scenario assuming there was no EWA release; and
Method 2 - under conditions where these two scenarios provide the same release at Hume Dam, water use by the forest is based on transmission losses in delivery and the additional evapo-transpiration in the forest based on estimates of forest inundation by state agencies.
6.2.2. River Murray Increased Flow (Murray RMIF), Victorian Flora and Fauna Allocation, NSW Adaptive Environmental Water and surplus flow use.
As in past years, measuring the use of these environmental allocations will be at the point of delivery with the method of measurement dependent on the water application method and the available information.
6.2.3. Diversions via pumps and syphons
The volume of water will be estimated from the pump/siphon capacity and the duration of operation. Return flow to the river will not be taken into account unless they are measurable, significant and agreed to by the Water Liaison Working Group (WLWG) and EWG.
State agencies will be responsible for estimating environmental water diversions via pumps and siphons. Where possible these will be supplied to RMW on a monthly basis.
6.2.4. Diversions via increased river levels
For sites where a higher flow (eg. Reed Beds Swamp in the Barmah-Millewa Forest) or higher river level is maintained (eg. weir raising) to inundate the floodplain, then an estimate of the water used will be similar to that adopted for the Lock 8 weir pool raising in 2006. This method is based on the Savings at Wetlands Evapo-transpiration Time series (SWET) model and incorporates:
• daily estimates of the additional watered area and the evaporation at a close location;
• estimates for transpiration, seepage into groundwater; and
• estimates of ‘ponded’ water that is re-regulated or not returned to the river after the event.
RMW in conjunction with state agencies will estimate additional environmental water use via increased river levels.
6.2.5. Diversions via irrigation canals
For releases into wetlands via irrigation canals, it is appropriate to utilise estimates from dethridge wheels (eg. wetlands within the Murray Irrigation Limited area of operation) or from gauged flow rates at appropriate locations (eg. wetlands within Gunbower Forest).
Return flow to the river will not be taken into account unless through a credited escape.
State agencies will be responsible for estimating environmental water diversions via irrigation canals. Where possible these will be supplied to RMW on a monthly basis.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 22
6.3. Rules for managing environmental water use
Rules for environmental water entitlements address management issues such as storage, spillage, use and delivery. In general, rules will depend on what type of water the entitlement consists of and where it is located.
This rules most relevant to this plan are those for the BMF EWA and River Murray Increased Flows (RMIF), also referred to as Snowy water (see Chapter 7 for further detail on RMIF).
The BMF EWA operating rules are interim and currently being reviewed. They will be finalised at the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council Meeting scheduled for April 2007.
The BMF EWA rules are provided at Appendix C of the Barmah-Millewa Forest Icon Site Environmental Management Plan.
The RMIF rules are required under Schedule G of the MDB Agreement and are provided at Appendix G. These rules are interim only and need to be finalised by October 2008.
No rules for the use of TLM water have currently been prepared given the absence of any recovered water to date. These will be developed in the coming years and draw upon other rules such as the BMF EWA and those developed for RMIF.
6.4. Reporting on environmental water use
The reporting aspect of water accounting provides ‘scorecards’ of water use and availability either for a given period, or at a point of time. For reporting against this plan, the accounts will provide a summary of water managed to achieve the ecological outcomes in the Living Murray First Step decision. These water accounts will be a subset of the water accounts for all uses along the southern connected River Murray system as illustrated below.
Water accounts for the River Murray system
The Living Murray Environmental Water Accounts
Environmental water accounts for the River Murray system
The Living Murray Environmental Water Accounts will include:
• a register of environmental water entitlements (extractive and rules based);
• allocations associated with environmental water entitlements that can be ‘called’ from storage (eg. the existing Barmah Millewa environmental water allowance, new environmental water entitlements created under The Living Murray);
• rules based environmental releases (eg. minimum flows immediately downstream of a headworks storage);
• that part of the unregulated inflows that are made available for environmental management;
• trade of environmental entitlements and allocations (volumetric); and
• trade of environmental entitlements and allocations (dollars)
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 23
Alternative reporting approaches will be trialled over the 2006/07 watering season and may include financial accounting approaches such as ‘statements of use’ and ‘statements of availability’.
More broadly, work is currently underway to revise the existing water accounting system for the River Murray system. In doing this, consideration will be given to the need for more transparent reporting and will draw on the principles and ideas from the conceptual work being developed under the National Water Initiative and with jurisdictional partners.
Living Murray Environmental Watering Plan 2006-07 24