The Commission assists with the implementation of the National Water Initiative (NWI) by providing advice, information and guidance through its various monitoring activities.
Through our forward work program, the Commission has identified activities that will continue our commitment to strong, transparent and public reporting on water reform progress.
Projects being undertaken will promote the objectives and outcomes of the NWI by investigating particular reform challenges and advancing policy options and improved management practices.
All these activities will contribute to the triennial assessment in 2014, and many will also inform our audits of the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Activities for 2012-13
National performance reports
The NWI calls for the states and territories to benchmark performance of water delivery agencies through annual pricing and service quality reporting. The Commission will maintain its reporting on related performance data by continuing to publish its series of annual urban and rural performance reports.
Evaluating pathways to sustainable levels of extraction
Governments are using various NWI-consistent approaches to address overallocation or overuse, and to increase the quantity of water for the environment, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Commission will assess the extent to which water recovery pathways are returning identified systems to sustainable levels of extraction, with a particular focus on transparency and accountability of arrangements.
Monitoring and evaluation to support adaptive management and decision making in water management
The Commission will assess the effectiveness of the monitoring, evaluation and reporting frameworks, knowledge systems and infrastructure that are currently used to facilitate adaptive management of water plans.
Groundwater/surface water connectivity and conjunctive management
The Commission will review the diverse jurisdictional responses to dealing with connectivity, including approaches adopted in data poor areas, barriers to conjunctive management, and consistency with NWI principles. This work will be undertaken with jurisdictions to assist the development of policy responses to addressing implementation challenges in conjunctively managing groundwater and surface water.
Interception provisions of the NWI
Current approaches to managing interception will be investigated, including constraints and challenges, and the consistency of interception management frameworks with NWI principles will be assessed.
Carbon Farming Initiative
The Commission will develop a framework for assessing the adequacy of interception arrangements to fulfil our role under the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Regulations 2011. This framework will identify areas that have adequate management arrangements in place to manage interception from plantation forests.
Mining and gas
This project will consider the interaction of water and mining policy including the use of NWI Clause 34 and when special circumstances may require policies and measures outside the NWI framework. It will also investigate water management challenges in the mining industry, barriers to incorporating mining into the water management framework, and mechanisms to address the needs of other water users.
Together with a 2011-12 markets report which brings together trade statistics and jurisdictional contexts, we will produce a separate trends and drivers report which will analyse issues that affect trade such as administrative and policy barriers, inconsistencies between jurisdictions, and the timely provision of information for market participants.
Emerging water markets
Water markets have developed within the southern Murray-Darling Basin as an important mechanism for distributing scarce surface water resources to their highest value use. The Commission will undertake an assessment to investigate the potential for water markets to expand to other regions and water sources in Australia.
Other activities are proposed for 2013-15, including:
- water planning report card
- managing extreme events
- environmental water management; governance and institutional arrangements
- stocktake of Indigenous access to water
- examination of the water quantity/quality nexus
- water pricing for irrigation.