Meeting environmental objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin

Meeting environmental objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin

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Several factors complicate the satisfaction of environmental objectives in the Basin and have the potential to influence costs, including the variable nature of environmental demands and uncertainty over future inflows. These factors imply that environmental water managers will need access to tools to help them respond quickly to changing circumstances; for example, to top up a natural high-flow event with an environmental release to flood a wetland. A number of options are currently available in most well developed water markets of the Basin, including carrying water over and trading in allocations or other water products. Other major factors influencing costs are the level and stringency of site-specific environmental water requirements. Environmental water requirements are necessarily determined using current (imperfect) knowledge of ecological and ecosystem responses. While significant uncertainty surrounds environmental thresholds and responses to increased environmental flows, this knowledge will improve over time, providing an opportunity to refine site-specific environmental water requirements. It will be important that this type of information be factored into reviews of environmental water requirements and sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) as it becomes available. Apart from identifying the benefits of adopting an adaptive approach to managing environmental water, this paper also discusses some actions that have been taken to rectify the imbalance in the allocation of consumptive and environmental water and on the operation of the CEWH. The paper concludes by identifying a number of steps that could be taken to: * help reduce the level of uncertainty that could accompany the CEWH's entry into water markets * mitigate the risk that poorly defined water storage rights could lead to a scenario in which the CEWH's intertemporal storage decisions have unintended consequences for other users, particularly irrigators. This would mean the continued reform of water storage rights remains an important policy objective.

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ABARES : Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences : Department of Agriculture


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Other constraints: Licence type:Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australian Licence (CC By)
Other constraints: Ownership of intellectual property rights: Unless otherwise noted, copyright (and any other intellectual property rights, if any) in this publication is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia (referred to as the Commonwealth). Creative Commons licence: All material in this publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence, save for content supplied by third parties, logos and the Commonwealth Coat of Arms.
Other constraints: This publication (and any material sourced from it) should be attributed as: Nguyen, N, Goesch, T and Gooday, P 2012, Meeting environmental objectives in the Murray-Darling Basin, ABARES Research Report, Canberra, February. CC BY 3.0

ISBN 978-1-74323-121-0
ISSN 1447-8358

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