Water resource planning

The Murray-Darling River

The Murray-Darling River

Water resource plans are crucial to delivering water security in Australia’s fragile Murray-Darling basin. The Murray-Darling basin is now somewhat influenced by the federal government via the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. This makes sense to us as the basin covers so many different Australian states all with competing interests and agendas.

From 1914, the Murray-Darling has been subject to agreements setting out the states share of water and infrastructure funding. The agreements form the basis of water resource planning and apply to surface and groundwater. The idea of water resource is to allocate what is a sustainable level of water that can be taken from the Murray-Darling.

Water resource planning tries to take into account the potential for environmental risks to water supplies and resources. Quality, water trading, accounting, auditing, Aboriginal native title rights among other things are considered and addressed in a complete water resource plan.

A water resource plan can also dictate how water is captured and taken from the water system i.e. farm irrigation dams, however they do not regulate how water is used once taken or land usage.

Water allocations can make or break the livelihoods of people operating commercial ventures. Thus water resource planning is a very sensitive and passionate topic to debate and discuss. The history of Australia’s allocation amounts has been too excessive. In high stress droughts the Murray-Darling basin has suffered immensely. In reducing water allocation amounts everything must be considered and balanced. A balance between, human, commercial and environmental needs must be achieved albeit a very complicated balance to achieve. All stakeholders and future stakeholders should be considered and the current stakeholders consulted.

Water resource planning can simply be called the process of developing a water allocation plan. The development of a plan must be structured and methodical to get a good result. Initially the proposed content of the plan should be outlined. Next the community and all stakeholders should be give opportunity to add their ideas, concerns and input to the plan. A draft should then be prepared. Again the community and stakeholders should be consulted on the draft plan. The plan should then be finalized, implemented and reviewed often.

Water resource planning is best in the hand of government planning bodies that have the scientific expertise to get the best result for water security and sustainability. Though stakeholders cannot sit on their hands whenever their own water supply is being planned. Participate always in the consultation and actively look for ways to be involved.

Water resource planning can also be used on an individual allocation level. Whilst the government will allocate water to an individual or corporation, for there they may plan further. Resource planning occurs in any business, usually with money, but now also with water. For example on a farm, different crops required varying quantities of water to mature. Depending upon market prices for matured produce and the water required to grow and farm said produce, farmers can allocate their water accordingly.

Using every drop wisely and sustainably is what water resource planning is all about.