A vision for integrating basin water management

A vision for integrating basin water management

29.07.2011 - Posted by Kane Travis
With carbon tax taking up a lot of media attention in the last few weeks, it is easy to forget about the massive water reform process being undertaken in the Murray-Darling Basin. Recently the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities provided the opportunity to comment on the proposed Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Framework for use of Commonwealth Environmental Water in the Murray-Darling Basin.

We have undertaken a wide range of work for federal authorities associated with water reform and reading the MER Framework document got me thinking about what else we could do to deliver the best water resource outcome for the environment into the future.

One thing that does strike me is the overall lack of integration. I don’t mean this as a criticism because I know how hard the challenge is, and that agencies are flat out dealing with their own internal priorities and processes. I do however see a whole raft of environmental water type programs and projects that would substantially benefit from connecting the dots between federal, state and regional programs.

Recently being involved in the Basin Plan Monitoring and Evaluation Program for the Murray Darling Basin Authority, I saw first hand how an integrated program logic model, if done well, can cut through the noise and provide a clear map of how the activities being undertaken combine to produce the overall high level outcomes, and importantly provide clarity on the data required to be able to communicate success.

I have a vision of bringing together the federal authorities, state government agencies and regional delivery bodies into the one room to map out a program logic to capture their activities, outcomes, goals and reporting needs that are associated with the provision of environmental water. Together we could create an integrated program logic that allows all agencies to understand where there are synergies, the extent and quality of data being produced by each organisation, and how the data could be shared and integrated between programs.

I have made a start on selling my vision, but accept it may be a long road ahead.