Prerequisite policy measures is a term that refers to actions which are put in place to:
- protect environmental water flows throughout the length of the river and between rivers from extraction, re-regulation or substitution
- allow environmental water to be released on top of other instream flows, including during unregulated flow events.
When setting the Sustainable Diversion Limit, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority assumed that the actions to deliver the above outcomes would be in place to allow the maximum environmental benefit from use of the Commonwealth’s licensed environmental water. Without this implementation, more water would be required to meet the environmental outcomes of the Basin Plan, leaving less for consumptive purposes.
Prerequisite policy measures are applied during the operation of the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) Adjustment Mechanism in the Basin Plan. The extent to which these actions are implemented by 30 June 2019 in the River Murray and the Murrumbidgee, affects the size of any SDL adjustment in 2019 and 2024.
South Australia’s progress
South Australia’s Prerequisite Policy Measures Implementation Plan identifies a number of activities and actions to meet these assumptions that will be implemented by June 2019. Implementation of these actions in South Australia does not require amendments to the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement or State legislation and largely focuses on detailing processes and procedures and making information publicly available to improve transparency.
South Australia is on track to implement and adopt the actions identified in the Prerequisite Policy Measures Implementation Plan by 30 June 2019. A summary of the progress of each action (as at 30 June 2018) is provided below. Three of the eight actions have been completed with the remainder on track to be completed by 30 June 2019.
Enhanced governance and transparency of river operations
1. Develop a South Australian Objectives and Outcomes document for the River Murray in South Australia, including Specific Objectives and Outcomes where required for river operations activities and the use of environmental water (on track)
2. Continue to develop the River Murray Annual Operating Plan and improve annual reporting (complete - undergoes continual improvement annually)
3. Explore the potential for publicly communicating the Annual Operating Plan (on track)
Tracking and reporting of environmental water
4. DEW to refine and operationalise the Source Model (on track)
No substitution between planned environmental water and held environmental water
5. Develop a Basin Plan compliant water resource plan (on track – information on water resource plans)
Develop a loss methodology for environmental water
6. DEW to undertake additional modelling for the quantification of losses/use in South Australia from the border to the barrages (complete)
7. DEW to develop principles/rules for the application of a loss rate and incorporate these in a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the calculation of losses (on track).
Timing and magnitude of return flows
8. Finalise the draft Return Flow Policy and Procedure and develop a SOP for return flow accounting (complete).