The Liberal and Nationals Government is investing $66 million to provide better information and transparency to help Murray-Darling Basin water managers make timelier, more reliable and transparent water management decisions.
In Shepparton today, Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt was joined by Senator for Victoria, and Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience, Bridget McKenzie and Damian Drum MP, Member for Nicholls announced the funding to upgrade the 24 Murray-Darling Basin models.
“These models are vital tools that river operators, irrigators and environmental water holders rely on, and this significant investment by the Liberal and Nationals Government will ensure they are fit for the future,” Minister Pitt said.
“If we want to see a healthy river system that supports agriculture and communities, we have to keep getting better and more efficient in how we use our water, and this modelling upgrade will contribute to that effort.
“Our river models are already world-leading, but they’re currently being used independently of each other and require significant manual intervention to provide a whole-of-Basin view.
“This upgrade will improve how the water models talk to each other, which will allow for more sophisticated and accurate future scenario planning across the Basin,” he said.
“Once upgraded, we will have improved capability to explore a range of future scenarios, for example, droughts, high rainfall events and bushfires, and what this will mean for inflows and river connectivity.
“For environmental water holders, the modelling upgrade will help inform their longer-term strategies to get the best outcomes for floodplain and wetland health, and therefore bird and fish populations.
Senator McKenzie said this investment will give people visibility of the models and the decisions they inform.
“For the broader community, having more accurate and transparent models will help generate confidence that water users are adhering to the rules and are only taking the water they’re entitled to.
“Greater transparency around the modelling inputs will give context to the potential risks to water availability under different climatic conditions and help policy makers develop plans to mitigate these risks,” Senator McKenzie said.
Mr Drum said part of the investment will include developing a public-facing portal, giving water users access to better information.
“There’s been a significant push from communities here in Nicholls and across the Basin, as well as from water users to increase water data transparency so they better understand the decisions Basin water managers make,” Mr Drum said.
All the existing MDBA and state government river models are expected to be integrated by July 2024 and ongoing maintenance to the updated technology will begin from then.
This work will be conducted by the MDBA, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and Basin state governments and updates will be provided throughout the duration of the project.