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Published: 10 December 2019   •   Media release

The science of South Australia's Lower Lakes will be reviewed by an independent team led by Australia's lead science agency CSIRO and assisted by the MDBA's Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences (ACSEES).

The MDBA wants to ensure that the management arrangements for the Lower Lakes continue to consider the best available science for the benefit of all users and interests.

Carl Binning, Executive Director of Partnerships, Science, Knowledge and Engagement, said the MDBA is committed to openness and transparency and welcomed the recent debate about Lower Lakes management.

"We're confident in the way governments are managing the Lower Lakes but know there is renewed community interest in all aspects of water management, which is why we wanted this review to take place," Mr Binning said.

Chair of ACSEES, Professor Rob Vertessy, says ACSEES looks forward to working with the review team.

"The Lower Lakes and Coorong are a vital asset and of great cultural significance to the Ngarrindjeri Nation and the First Nations of the South East. The wetlands are internationally recognised, supporting endangered migratory birds, threatened wildlife and rare plants. The lakes also support a thriving agricultural sector. Therefore, it's critical that the Lower Lakes are well managed," Professor Vertessy said.

The review will be chaired by Dr Francis Chiew from CSIRO with support from Ms Jennifer Hale (Independent aquatic ecology consultant), Dr Michael Reid (University of New England) and Dr Klaus Joehnk (CSIRO).

Dr Chiew welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the review.

"We need to ensure that the management of the Lower Lakes, including the connected lower River Murray and Coorong is well supported and understood through the best scientific knowledge," Dr Chiew said.

"The team will examine the extensive range of scientific studies on the Lower Lakes to determine whether any additional information needs to be factored into management planning and what implications there may be for the management of the Lakes into the future."

ACSEES provides independent, strategic advice to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority. The Committee's work helps to ensure the Basin Plan is implemented with regard to the best available scientific knowledge. Its members have high standing in the fields of economics, hydrology, ecology and resilience, water governance and law, sociology and sustainable systems.

For more information on the Lower Lakes review, visit

Biographies of the science review panel members are below. Biographies of ACSEES members are available at


Lower Lakes review panel members

Dr Francis Chiew has more than 25 years of experience in research, teaching and consulting, and in science leadership and management. Francis is globally recognised for his expertise in hydroclimate, hydrological modelling and integrated river basin management, and his research is widely adopted and cited. Francis and his team in CSIRO have led many major hydroclimate initiatives and water resources assessment projects, informing water resources planning and adaptation in Australia and globally. Francis is a member of several global and national water expert committees including lead author of the IPCC AR5 and AR6 Assessment Reports.

Ms Jennifer Hale is an aquatic ecologist with expertise in wetland, riverine and estuarine systems with over 30 years of experience in the management of aquatic ecosystems. She has extensive knowledge of the Ramsar Convention and its application to the management of wetlands in Australia. She was one of three leaders of the technical review panel for Ramsar documentation and was involved in the development of guidance on implementation of the Convention including on the definition of Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) and change in ecological character. Jennifer has acted as an advisor on Ramsar wetlands for State and Australian governments, and has recently completed a review of the effect of large-scale drivers on ecological character.

Dr Michael Reid is a senior lecturer in Geography and Planning at the University of New England. He has more than 20 years of experience in research focusing on understanding pattern and process in floodplain and river ecosystems across a range of spatial and temporal scales and on understanding how human activities impact river ecosystems. This focus requires interdisciplinary research and expertise in palaeoecology, food web ecology, floodplain and aquatic vegetation community ecology, geomorphology, hydrology and ecohydrology. Michael is the current president of the Australian Freshwater Sciences Society.

Dr Klaus Joehnk is leading the Modelling Water Ecosystems team in CSIRO Land and Water. He has more than 20 years of experience in research and consultancy on hydrodynamic and water quality modelling of lakes and rivers. Klaus and his team are leading work on combining hydrodynamic and water quality modelling with satellite remote sensing of inland waters for operational short-term forecasting of water quality and building integrated simulation tools for assessing ecological outcomes of inland water management. Klaus serves on the editorial board for Ecological Informatics Journal and is a committee member of the Australian Water Association ACT branch.

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