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Managing Constraints

Goulburn River at SeymourGoulburn River at Seymour. Photo by Janet Pritchard

Constraints can be physical structures along or near the river, like bridges and roads that stop water getting to some areas in the volumes and at times it is most needed. They can be practices that have been developed, mostly to support navigation and irrigation. Some practices, or even the absence of them, mean we don’t use environmental water as efficiently as we could.

Constraints Management Strategy

As part of implementing the Basin Plan, we are investigating ways to get better environmental results for wetlands and rivers through addressing constraints while avoiding, managing or mitigating impacts to local communities and industries. The Constraints Management Strategy (CMS) was developed during 2013 through technical assessments and in consultation with local communities and industries. It identifies areas where changing constraints would provide the best environmental gains.

The changes being investigated are modest and aim to increase the frequency of some of the small to medium flow events that are already occurring.

An important principle of the Strategy is that any solutions to overcome constraints will recognise and respect the property rights of land holders and will not create any new risks to reliability of water entitlements.

There are three phases to the CMS:

  • 2013-2014 Prefeasibility Phase: MDBA undertakes investigations and consultations to provide recommendations to Basin Ministers.
  • 2015-2016 Feasibility Phase: Governments consider MDBA recommendations and develop proposals.
  • 2016-2024 Planning and Implementation: Proposals to address constraints will be considered by governments and implemented.

What work is being done this year?

During 2014 we have continued to progress our constraints work developing community consultation networks in key locations. Inundation maps have been prepared using information from landholders and communities, showing where water would flow under different scenarios. The information we are gathering on the effects of delivering certain types of flows and the options to lessen or overcome those effects will inform our annual report to ministers at the end of the year. Basin governments will then decide which constraints projects will be investigated in more detail including further discussions with communities.

These key areas where we working with stakeholders are:

  • Gwydir
  • Murrumbidgee
  • The Murray, including the reach between Hume to Yarrawonga, Yarrawonga to Wakool Junction and River Murray in South Australia
  • Goulburn
  • Lower Darling.

The work continues

The information gathered with Basin communities is being developed into reports for each key area, called Reach Reports. They will include data and facts about each of the stretches of river but won't be making any recommendations. The first of these reports–the Goulburn River reach report is now publicly available.

We've also done further work to better understand the potential effects on the river system if some river practices were changed or new ones were introduced. While there are many different river practices, our focus is on just a handful that could help us maximise environmental outcomes by managing all water available for the environment. MDBA will be working with the basin governments on the river practice constraints that will be a priority focus.

Constraints Management Strategy

Last year, Basin Ministers requested MDBA to complete a study on constraints as part of the Basin Plan; this is the Constraints Management Strategy.
PDF [4.32MB] - Word [2.96MB]

Feedback report

MDBA released a draft Strategy for public comment in October. A summary of the feedback and MDBA's responses has been compiled into a Feedback Report
PDF [1.03MB] - Word [756KB]

12 September 2014