The NSW Government is committed to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (the Basin Plan) in a way that delivers a triple bottom line outcome for NSW regional communities and the environment.

Through the Basin Plan, the Australian Government and Basin States committed to recovering an additional 2,750 GL of water for the environment through a combination of licence buybacks and water recovery and efficiency projects. The Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) provides flexibility for environmental outcomes to be achieved with less water volume recovered for the environment (Supply Measures) or recovering water for the environment via increased efficiency in water use or delivery (Efficiency Measures).

In February 2019, NSW signed a funding schedule with the Commonwealth to undertake detailed planning for nine NSW-led SDLAM projects. As part of the detailed planning process and DPIE Water’s commitment to engage with communities on implementation of these projects, and consider a range of options to achieve project outcomes, Alluvium was engaged to develop an Options Evaluation Framework which specifically considers the third party economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts to local and regional communities and ecosystems from these projects.

The framework was built around ongoing engagement with stakeholder advisory groups, using a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) to evaluate proposed options and document the discussion supporting the assessment. The MCA, supported by sensitivity testing, will help determine ranking of the options to inform the broader decision-making process between Agency leads and stakeholder and technical advisory groups. The resulting shortlist of options will allow recommended projects to proceed to a full business case.