Peer review of the SA Governments hydro-ecological analysis of the additional model scenarios for the Basin Plan

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Project Partners:

SARDI, CSIRO, and The University of Adelaide

Research Theme:

N/A

Status:

Project Overview

The South Australian Government, through the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), undertook analysis of additional modelling scenarios provided by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) as part of the finalisation of the Basin Plan.

The objectives of the SA Government assessment were to:

  • undertake a comparative hydro-ecological analysis of the additional MDBA model runs of water recovery scenarios 2800 GL and 3200 GL with key constraints relaxed and the previous 2800 GL and 3200 GL with constraints scenarios through assessment of MDBA and South Australian (SA) indicators for key South Australian environmental assets;
  • analyse and compare the ecological outcomes for floodplain (including Riverland-Chowilla), Lower Lakes, the Coorong and the river channel for the four scenarios;
  • if necessary, analyse the Coorong ecological response modelling for the new without constraints water recovery model runs and compare with previous analysis for the with constraints model runs; and
  • undertake the analysis as far as possible using the same methodology as documented in the previous three reports (Bloss et al. 2012; Heneker and Higham 2012; Higham 2012) that supported the SA Government Basin Plan Science Review (2012).

Progress Update and Key Findings

The Goyder Institute for Water Research was asked by the Premier’s Murray-Darling Basin Plan Taskforce to conduct an independent peer review process of the South Australian Government analysis. The purpose of the Goyder Institute peer review process was to critique the hydro-ecological analysis undertaken by DEWNR and to suggest improvements, where deemed necessary, to achieve the best quality analysis within the available timeframes. More specifically the peer reviewers were asked to:

  • provide advice on the proposed approach to the comparative analysis and interpretation of results and suggested modifications to improve the speed and quality of the assessment, recognising the resources and timing available to undertake this assessment;
  • review the application of the analysis and the interpretation of results regarding the implications for the floodplain (including Riverland-Chowilla), Lower Lakes, the Coorong and the river channel for the four water recovery scenarios that have been assessed by the SA Government. 

Project Impacts

The major project highlight was the ability of the South Australian Science Team (in DEWNR) to rapidly extend the modelling done by the MDBA to show and communicate the ecological benefits to the South Australian River Murray floodplains and CLAAM region within very short timelines.

The outcomes of the Peer Review were directly relevant to policy makers within the SA government in supporting its position on environmental water to support ecological objectives.

The peer reviewed modelling to support the additional GLs of water released down the River Murray for ecological benefits placed the SA Government in a strong bargaining position with the Commonwealth.

Research Outputs

Hydro-ecological Conceptual Model for Murray Darling Basin

Project News