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Adaptation Planning for Water
Resources:
the story of the Northern SWS
Professor Jane M Doolan
September 2014
Outline
• Sustainable Water Strategies
• The Drought and the Northern SWS
• Environmental water and climate change
• Conclusion
Objectives in Water Management
Effective management of water resources to meet future urban, rural
and environmental needs
• Improved efficiency of supply and use of water in cities and towns
to improve liveability
• A more productive, efficient and sustainable irrigation industry
supported by improved irrigation infrastructure
• Improved environmental condition of waterways supporting
community needs
• Improved governance arrangements for a high- performing and
efficient water sector
• Improved capacity to respond and adapt to a variable climate
Victorian Entitlement framework
Sustainable Water Strategies
• understand threats to water availability including implications of
climate change and variability
• Ensure secure water entitlements for towns, industry,
environment
• Encourage economically viable and sustainable agriculture
• where possible, improve health of rivers, wetlands and aquifers
from impacts of drought, climate change and other risks
• Improve choice and flexibility for entitlement holders to manage
risk of climate variability
• Want good environmental outcomes – whilst achieving outcomes
for towns and agriculture
• recognise it is a trade-off - environmental and socio-economic
impacts
• Full community process ( 2-3 years)
– Clear, transparent evidence
– Full stakeholder involvement throughout
– Opportunities for public participation
Setting for the Northern SWS
• 10 years of below average rainfall
• Drought/severe water shortages
• Rapid and painful adjustment by water users
to increased water scarcity
• Water availability less than contemplated in:
– Normal management rules
– Drought response plans
• The uncertainty of future climate change
Supply, Drought & Climate Change –
River Murray inflows
River Murray Inflows - 1891 July to 2010 June
(excluding Darling inflows and Snowy releases)
35000
Average 1891-1997
9,351 GL/yr
Average 1997-2010
4,430 GL (53% less)
30000
Average 1936-1945
6,140 GL (34% less)
25000
20000
15000
10000
2008/09
2005/06
2002/03
99/2000
1996/97
1993/94
1990/91
1987/88
1984/85
1981/82
1978/79
1975/76
1972/73
1969/70
1966/67
1963/64
1960/61
1957/58
1954/55
1951/52
1948/49
1945/46
1942/43
1939/40
1936/37
1933/34
1930/31
1927/28
1924/25
1921/22
1918/19
1915/16
1912/13
1909/10
1906/07
1903/04
1900/01
1897/98
1894/95
5000
1891/92
Annual Inflow (GL/year)
Average 1896-1905
5,115 GL/yr (45% less)
13 Years of Low Streamflows
Annual Streamflows 1997-2008
Reduction (%) c.f. Long Term Average
A CC by 2055
> high
~ medium-high CC by 2055
90
40
86
58
79
39
83
69
82
72
89
56
35
33
65
87
85
26
62
69
54
25
38
38
36
42
54
55
What happened in the drought
• Providing water for essential human needs
– 291(out of 436) Towns on stage 4 water restrictions (only indoor
use)
– Water carting to many small rural communities
– Environmental flows in all major rivers were restricted
• Campaspe River flows were about 20 times lower than natural flows
• Irrigation
– Irrigation allocations started at 0% and were less than 10%
entitlement in spring - 1/3 all vines sacrificed, decisions about
buying on market - debt
• Environment
– Previously supportive communities challenged environmental
flows
– Needed a clear rationale and ecological understanding for use of
env water in drought
– Not very much
The challenge – range of scenarios
Forecast of total inflows in the Murray system over next 50 years
The challenge under worst case
What did it mean?
Less reliable entitlements for all
• Urban water users
– Longer, more frequent and more severe water restrictions
• Irrigators
– Zero allocations, no delivery of water, no effective carryover
trade
• Groundwater and upper catchment users
– Increased time on restrictions/bans, increased groundwater
use, less reliable farm dams, higher proportion of water
captured in farm dams
• Environment
– Less frequent floods, loss of river red gum forest, fewer bird
breeding events, fewer native fish, degraded wetlands
People knew what it meant – they were living it
NRSWS Approach
• A range of policy and investment decisions
across urban, rural and environment
• Built on existing policy directions and were
the next evolutionary step
• Consistent with the NWI
NRSWS Approach
– aimed at ensuring water management objectives
could continue to be met
– Supplement supply for env and users where possible
– Would work under a drier/more variable future and
provide certainty
– Improved efficiency and encourage conservation
across all sectors
– Allowed entitlement holders to manage their own
climate risk
– Facilitated water market operation
– Provide access to water under all conditions
– New Seasonally adaptive environmental approach
– Looked for multi-benefit solutions eg smart river
operations, water savings from infrastructure
projects
Entitlements and Markets
• Introduced Carry-over
– Allows entitlement holders to carryover allocation into next year
• Changed system reserve rules
– Reduces likelihood of years with zero allocation
– Reduces need for emergency intervention
• Provided clearer entitlements for the environment and allowed
more efficient use of environmental water
– Credit-for-return flows
•
Improvements to Victorian water grid
•
New and Alternative Sources
– Maximise flexibility in water trading market
– Enables water to move from low to high value uses
– Limited opportunities therefore not a solution
Urban
– Must be able to supply a minimum level of service, including limiting time on
restrictions and limited use of qualification of rights.
– Planning looked at supplementing supply and managing demand
updated drought response plans
consistent and equitable restrictions
more flexible carryover and trade
Market access for community groups and businesses
Some use of alternative sources - recycled water, stormwater and
groundwater
– Augmentation – increased capital expenditure
• Pipelines /interconnectors
• New sources and trading for some regional urbans
• expanded reticulated systems for D&S
–
–
–
–
–
Irrigation
• Market, carryover and system reserves
•
•
•
•
Ensure distribution systems can always be run
Individuals better equipped to manage risk
More flexibility/choice to manage supplies
Shorten season if necessary
• Investment in irrigation modernisation
– to create water savings
– Improve levels of service to irrigators and D&S
customers
• Whole-farm planning and on-farm efficiencies
Environment
• New Approach
– Ensure river and wetland assets survive during dry sequence (ie Focus on
drought refuges)
– Provide capacity to recover during wetter years
• Environmental Water Portfolio
– Understand water requirements
• different environmental outcomes
– Water recovery for what you need
• Manage Efficiently
–
–
–
–
Seasonally adaptive approach
Most efficient use
Complementary use of works
New institution – VEWH
• New Information Needs and Planning
• Changing management objectives
Environmental Water Portfolio
• Environmental Water Provision
– Have the right mix of environmental water e.g.
• high reliability for drought refuge and breaking dry spell tolerances
• low reliability for floods in wet years
– Have enough water
• How much is enough given the wide range of possible futures ( -5%
streamflow reduction to -80%)
The proposals – for water recovery for stressed rivers
given variable future
Aim for category 4 under current climate and category 2 under worst
case scenario
Category Objective
Flow component
1
Protect drought refuge
Base flows throughout the year
2
Protect drought refuge; dry spell
breaking
Summer minimums every year;
winter minimums/freshes every
3rd year
3
Sustainable population of priority
in-stream species
All summer and winter
minimums and freshes at
recommended frequency
4
Healthy in-stream environment
Category 3 + bankfull flows
5
Healthy in-stream environment and Category 4 + reduced overbank
protection of priority wetlands
flows (one in every three years)
6
Full environmental flows
All recommended environmental
flow components
Efficient environmental water management
• Environmental Water Manager
– Flexibility
• trade
• carry over
• downstream reuse or credit for return flows
– Can optimise use of water across sites / rivers
– Use alternative sources of water
• Better governance - best use
– Environmental water holder
• Allocates environmental water
• Coordinates with other env holders
• Trades
• Integrated River Management
– CMAs – regional/local priorities, local delivery
– EWR managed as part of integrated program
Drought
Long
Term
Ecol Obj
Short
Term
Ecol
Aims
Annual
Mgt
Obj
Average
Wet to very Wet
Set in the regional River Health Strategies and Regional Catchment Strategies – 10 year
targets to move towards ecologically healthy rivers
Priority assets have
avoided irreversible
losses
Priority assets have
maintained their basic
functions.
The ecological
health of priority
assets has been
protected or
improved
The ecological health
of priority assets has
been protected or
improved
• Avoid critical loss
 Maintain many river
functions, but
recognise
reduced reproductive
capacity
 Manage within dryspell tolerances
 Improve ecological
health and resilience
 Improve ecological
health and resilience
 Minimise impacts of
flooding
 Restore key
ecological functions
 Water critical
refuges
 Provide flushes
 Provide carry over
 If necessary, use the
market to sell or
purchase water
 Provide all aspects
of the flow regime
 Provide sufficient
flows to promote
breeding and
recovery
 Provide carry over
 If necessary, use
the market to sell or
purchase water
 Provide overbank
flows
 Provide flows needed
to promote breeding
and recovery
 If necessary, use the
market to sell or
purchase water (if
required)
• Maintain key
refuges
 Avoid catastrophic
events
EWR
Focus
Dry
 Water critical
refuges
 Undertake
emergency watering
to avoid catastrophic
events
 Provide carry over
 If necessary, use
the market to sell or
purchase water
Lindsay Island
Works flood 60% of the area for 8% of the water use
Natural flood = 150 ML/ha
• 8000 ha flooded
• 1200 GL# additional water required
~70,000 ML/day
(Would have occurred 1 year in 5
under historic flow conditions)
With structural works = 20 ML/ha
• 5000 ha flooded
• 90 GL# additional water required
• $43m (works)
#Assuming
historic climate
Difference in water used - 85%of water used by dairy in GMID in 05/06
Information and Planning
• Needs to focus more on
– Drought refugia
– Maintaining key recovery mechanisms
– Understand dry spell tolerances
• RRHS
–
–
–
–
Identify drought refugia
Identify key source and pathways for recolonisation
Include in assets register
Identify as priority reaches
• Environmental Flow Studies
– Incorporate survival flows
– Identify maximum dry spell lengths
– Any recovery requirements e.g. river red gums
• Clear logic for action for flow management and
complementary river works
Set every 8 years in RWS
Reassess every
8 years
Active
management
Stakeholder
engagement
Conclusion
• Major reforms
– Living in the drought
•
•
•
•
•
Understood the issues
Environment had to deal with same issues
Created the imperative
Community willing to listen
Government ready to act
– Focus – was drought management understanding
that this is likely to be the future
• Best water reform occurs in a crisis