Throughout 2017 MDBA will continue to work constructively with the Australian and state governments, industries, Traditional Owners and communities to achieve the outcomes of a healthy working Basin and sustainable communities.
During 2017, the Basin Plan may be amended following the proposal to reduce the water recovery target in the northern Basin by 70 GL and increase the sustainable diversion limits for three groundwater areas. The sustainable diversion limit adjustment will also be finalised in the southern Basin, including consideration of constraints that may be limiting the best use of environmental water. Together, these measures offer opportunities to minimise adverse effects on Basin industries and communities while maintaining good environmental outcomes.
In 2017 the pace of water resource planning will also increase, supported by a streamlining of the process. Basin governments and MDBA will need to work hard to ensure all 36 water resource plans are in place by the end of 2019.
Adaptive management is a foundational principle of the Basin Plan. The Basin Plan has built-in mechanisms for adaptive management to check progress and to adjust implementation if objectives can be achieved a better way. These mechanisms draw on input from local communities, new knowledge and feedback from reviews and monitoring and evaluation activities.
During 2017, the MDBA will undertake an interim evaluation of the social, economic and environmental effectiveness of the first five years of Basin Plan implementation. The evaluation will look at whether implementation is on track and whether the outcomes to date are as expected during this transition phase. It will assess whether additional work is required to achieve the Basin Plan’s aim, and guide the remaining implementation activities. Feedback from communities, farmers, local government and recreational water users will be used to build a stronger understanding of the effects of the Basin Plan on communities, and enable the MDBA and Basin state governments to be more responsive to local knowledge and needs. A more detailed evaluation of the Basin Plan will occur in 2020.
In addition, the Productivity Commission will conduct an inquiry on the effectiveness of the implementation of the Basin Plan and water resource plans during 2018.