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Basin Officials Committee Communique – 16 September 2021 – Out of the BOCs

The Basin Officials Committee (BOC) met via videoconference on 16 September 2021.

Published: 16 September 2021

BOC received a presentation from Dr Jane Doolan, chair of the independent panel of experts appointed by Ministerial Council in August 2019 to provide advice to the BOC and Ministerial Council on options for managing delivery challenges in the River Murray.

BOC discussed the development of principles and a framework for more effective, transparent and risk-based decision-making on balancing trade-offs between river operations and system management. In the context of the shared risk of a capacity or delivery shortfall, Dr Doolan spoke to the challenges of balancing trade-offs between water resource availability, delivery risk, environmental condition and Traditional Owner and social use. The BOC agreed that the expert panel should continue to work with the Basin Governments and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to develop these ideas into a functional Decision Support Framework for further consideration by the BOC and Ministerial Council.

BOC discussed progress with implementation of the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism (SDLAM) program and work towards resolving outstanding policy issues. The BOC continues to explore options for improving the transparency and accountability of joint government decision-making, noting that the April–June 2021 quarterly public status reporting on the SDLAM projects will soon be published on the MDBA website.

BOC members welcomed Emma Bradbury, Chief Executive Officer of the Murray–Darling Association. Ms Bradbury presented on opportunities to build collaboration across all three levels of government to support delivery of the Basin Plan.

A standing agenda item, the BOC received an update from the MDBA on resource availability and key river operations issues. Community members can access similar information in the latest River Murray Weekly Report. The increase of Hume Dam water releases to create airspace was highlighted as communities downstream of Hume Dam are on high flood alert. The MDBA has been hosting weekly briefings with downstream stakeholders while it has been in pre-flood operations. Further information can be found here.

With this being his last meeting in the role, BOC members acknowledged the important contribution made by David Wiskar in his 4 years as BOC member for Queensland, thanking him for his unwavering commitment to effective decision-making on behalf of the Basin as a whole. BOC is currently scheduled to meet again in early November 2021.

About the BOC

The BOC has 6 members – one senior official from each Basin jurisdiction including the Commonwealth – and provides advice to both the MDBA and the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council on matters including Basin Plan implementation and Basin water management policy. The BOC also makes high-level decisions on river operations on the River Murray.

BOC’s 2021 workplan is aligned to deliver the priorities that Basin water ministers agreed in November 2020:

  • Support Basin communities through the Murray–Darling Communities Investment Package
  • Implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, including delivery of supply and constraints, efficiency and toolkit measures
  • Consider reform to the water market following the ACCC final report
  • Address deliverability risks in the River Murray system

More information is available on the BOC.

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