Members acknowledged the ongoing impacts on communities, industries and farmers of flooding across the Basin in recent months. The year 2022 was one of the wettest years on record, contributing to water storages in February being 95% full Basin-wide. The Authority commended the community resilience demonstrated during this challenging period, as well as the dedication and hard work of the MDBA river operators in managing the River Murray system. The Authority welcomed the review requested by the Ministerial Council of flood operations across the River Murray System to assist with continuous improvement of flood forecasting and management.
Authority members noted the 2023 Sustainable Diversion Limits Adjustment Mechanism assurance work program.
A briefing on the progress and refresh of the Sustainable Diversion Limit Accounting Improvement Strategy was provided. Members approved the updated strategy and noted that the report will be published on the MDBA website.
The Authority noted the findings and outcomes of the review by independent consultants of the New South Wales floodplain harvesting baseline diversion limit re-estimates in the Macquarie-Castlereagh. This report will inform the assessment of the relevant water resource plan (WRP). Members agreed to publish the Independent review of the proposed NSW Baseline Diversion Limits for floodplain harvesting: Macquarie-Castlereagh SDL resource unit on the MDBA website.
The progress to assess the New South Wales groundwater and surface water WRPs was discussed. Members noted that 4 New South Wales WRPs have been accredited and the remaining 16 have been submitted to the MDBA for formal assessment.
The Authority discussed the high-level approach for delivering the 2026 Basin Plan Review. It was noted that a draft of the Roadmap to the 2026 Basin Plan Review will be provided to the Authority in May ahead of its proposed release later this year.
The Authority agreed to publicly invite expressions of interest for membership of the Basin Community Committee. The process for appointments that start in early 2024 will commence shortly.
The Authority welcomed Professor Mary O’Kane AC, who presented on her current science review commissioned by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. The intent of the review is to ensure water science and research investments are strategically aligned, appropriate to water policy and planning, and position Australia as an international leader in water science.
The Inspector-General of Water Compliance, the Hon Troy Grant, briefed the Authority on recent activities and emerging priorities.
Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water Deputy Secretary, Ms Lyn O’Connell provided an update on the outcomes from the recent Ministerial Council and Commonwealth water policy initiatives.
The next Authority meeting will be held in Canberra on 31 March 2023.
Sir Angus Houston (Chair)
Professor Stuart Bunn
Dr Jane Doolan
Ms Roseanne Healy
Ms Susan Madden
Mr Rene Woods
Mr Andrew McConville (Chief Executive)