Water metering in Basin is improving, but has a long way to go

The Compliance Compact between Basin states to improve public confidence in water management has served its initial purpose well. However, a report has found its focus now needs to shift from activities to outcomes.

The Basin Compliance Compact is a 2018 agreement between Basin governments to improve public confidence and provide transparency and accountability in water management.

Basin governments have completed a health check of the Compliance Compact itself to examine if it’s still fit for purpose.

The review found that the Compact continues to be an important transparency tool, as it holds jurisdictions to account on their commitments, however, now is an appropriate time for the compact to mature.

The lack of uniform standards in the Compliance Compact means that where Basin governments broadly committed to the same action, there are considerable differences in how that action is being implemented by each government.

Head of the MDBA’s Office of Compliance, Daniel Blacker said consistency across the Basin needed to improve.

“There needs to be improved consistency in compliance across the Basin before people will consider it to be fair and then, over time, fairness will lead to trust and confidence,” Mr Blacker said.

Basin governments will be pursuing increased consistency in compliance reporting as this is what communities are asking for, to improve fairness and trust. As a starting point, governments have committed to benchmarking water compliance performance across the Basin.

“Communities are asking for an ‘apples and apples’ comparison between states at the Basin level. It’s not enough that compliance is done, it needs to be seen to be done consistently in all states,” Mr Blacker said.

All Basin state water regulators met this week to work on a consistent reporting framework.

Also released today is the Office of Compliance’s annual assessment of actions outlined in the Basin Compliance Compact.

Mr Blacker said the assessment showed that while states were working hard to fulfill commitments in the Compact and many actions were complete, some had not yet delivered on the community’s expectations for metering and measuring water take.

“All Basin governments have made good headway in the past year, particularly on compliance frameworks and reporting, however progress on delivering water metering accuracy and coverage is uneven,” Mr Blacker said.

“Metering, measurement and monitoring are compliance fundamentals that need to be in place before we can expect public confidence to improve. The hard work of states is yet to translate into improvements on the ground in many areas.

“The changes Basin states are making to the Compliance Compact itself will go some way to improving community confidence that all states are adhering to the same rules and outcomes.”

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