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Review of allocation announcement process

Background

The South Australian Government had an election commitment to provide more timely information to River Murray irrigators in South Australia. This commitment was designed to give greater support to South Australian River Murray irrigators and help in their forward planning. This commitment had several elements:  

  • give irrigators the information and tools to plan ahead through the provision of probability scenarios for water allocations;  
  • provide consistency with the approach to the provision of irrigation allocation information in New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, where appropriate; and  
  • ensure the River Murray is sustainably managed, by giving irrigators greater certainty in their business planning. 

In late 2018 the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) worked with the South Australian irrigation community to identify what water allocation information they need and when they need it. Based on this feedback, DEW updated its approach to allocation statements for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 water years.  

While the updated approach has been generally well-received by the irrigation community, there was also interest in exploring further refinements to the approach. 

Independent Review 

DEW commissioned Aither to undertake the independent review. Aither is one of Australia’s leading advisors in water policy, water markets, infrastructure, and natural hazards.  

Aither found recent changes to the South Australian River Murray allocation announcement process enabled DEW to provide better and more timely allocation information during two very dry years when a robust process was needed more than ever. 

The current allocation announcement process was seen as working well and providing valuable information to market participants at suitable time intervals. However, there are additional practical actions that DEW can take over the short and medium term to further improve the products it produces for water users.  

View the Aither report

Implementing Recommendations 

DEW has commenced actioning a suite of recommendations ahead of the 2021-22 water year. It is anticipated that all of the must do recommendations, and the majority of the short-term recommendations, will be implemented in time for the first allocation announcement on 15 April 2021. The remainder of the recommendations will be addressed or investigated over the coming 12‑18 months. 

Number Recommendation Priority Progress
 1 Consistently provide a spectrum of opening allocation outlooks every year and in all pre-season announcements.  Must do Actioned - included in the 2021-22 allocation statements
 2 Amend graphical presentation of scenarios.  Must do Actioned - included in the 2021-22 allocation statements
 3 Clarify the allocation announcement process and improve explanation of the relevance of the water allocation plan.  Short-term Actioned - included in the 2021-22 allocation statements
 4 Improve visualisations of water available.  Short-term Actioned - included in the 2021-22 allocation statements
 5 Retain allocation announcement statements in a central, online repository.  Short-term Actioned - DEW website updated
 6 Develop a standard template for allocation statemen Short-term Actioned - included in the 2021-22 allocation statements
 7 Release Version 1 of the State Water Calculator as soon as possible.  Short-term Actioned - see link to calculator on DEW website
 8 Finalise and release Version 1 of the Personal Water Calculator by April 2021.  Short-term Actioned - see link to calculator on DEW website
 9 Review the approach used to develop and select allocation outlook scenarios Short-term Actioned
 10 Work with the MDBA and basin states to make the water availability assessments publicly available.  Medium-term To be investigated over the next 12-18 months
 11 Review outlook scenario definitions and nomenclature.  Medium-term Underway / partially completed
 12 Engage an independent communication specialist. 
 
Medium-term To be investigated over the next 12-18 months
 13 Provide synthesised discussion of the scenarios and supporting data / information included in allocation statements.  Medium-term To be investigated over the next 12-18 months
 14 Work with industry to deliver an annual program of water literacy workshops.  Medium-term Underway / ongoing 
 15 Integrate climate projections into water availability assessments.  Medium-term To be investigated over the next 12-18 months
 16 Work with MDBA and basin states to develop tri-state water calculator.  Medium-term To be investigated over the next 12-18 months

 

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