Distilled E-news from the National Water Commission – March 2013

6 Apr


Murray–Darling Basin plan audit report tabled

NWC - droplets logo for the MDB report cover

The Commission’s first report on Murray–Darling Basin Plan implementation was tabled in Parliament on 25 March. This report highlights the priority areas that we will examine in our first full audit due in 2015. When the Commission next reports on progress, we expect to see that concerted efforts have locked in the hard-won gains embodied in this historic plan. This is crucial so that real benefits can start to flow to the basin and its communities.


Commission welcomes new Parliamentary Secretary and congratulates Senator Farrell

Senator Farrell

Commission Chair, Karlene Maywald said ‘The Commission welcomes yesterday’s announcement that Amanda Rishworth had been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water. We also congratulate Senator Farrell on his new ministerial responsibilities and thank him for his support over the past three years.’



World Water Day parliamentary briefing

The National Water Commission organised a briefing at Parliament House in Canberra on 21 March to launch World Water Day in Australia. Senator Farrell, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water opened the event, which provided an opportunity for parliamentarians and water sector representatives to celebrate the United Nations (UN) International Year of Water Cooperation.

Speakers included Karlene Maywald (Chair National Water Commission), Adam Lovell, (Executive Director Water Services Association of Australia), and Tom Mollenkopf (CEO Australian Water Association). Christopher Woodthorpe, Director UN Information Centre, delivered the World Water Day message from the UN Secretary-General. Read more


National performance reports for urban and rural water utilities

Karlene Maywald

At the World Water Day parliamentary briefing on 21 March, the Commission released its national performance reports for urban and rural water utilities. These annual reports benchmark the performance of water delivery agencies and demonstrate how the Commission delivers on one of its core functions by providing strong, transparent and public reporting on water reform progress.


Annual water markets report shows trading growth

NWC - droplets logo

The Commission’s latest annual water markets report shoes that irrigators are relying on Australia’s maturing water market in wet years as well as in drought times. Both allocation and entitlement trades increased in 2011–12. Recorded trade activity suggests the estimated value of the Australian water market increased from around $1.5 billion in the previous year to approximately $1.6 billion in 2011–12, despite lower entitlement and allocation prices.


New Commissioners meet for first time

Karlene MaywaldThe inaugural meeting of the third Commission was held in Canberra on 14 February, following the appointment of new Commissioners as required under the amended National Water Commission Act. Karlene Maywald and Rob Freeman (who had both been appointed in July 2012) welcomed our new acting Commissioners—Leith Boully, Mike Waller and Des Lord. Commission communiqué


Commission launches its Reconciliation Action Plan

Presentation ceremony

One of the highlights at the February Commission meeting was the launch of the Commission’s inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan by Commissioner Rob Freeman. This followed a briefing by Phil Duncan, former Chair of the First Peoples’ Water Engagement Council and now Chair of the Indigenous Water Advisory Committee. Phil Duncan discussed the Commission’s work to-date in support of improved Indigenous engagement in water planning and management and water access for Indigenous Australians.


New publications and submissions

Certification framework for potable water: In late 2012, the Commission funded and released a Proposed national certification framework: operators within drinking water treatment systems. This builds upon a Victorian model and reflected an industry view that a clearer framework is needed to certify drinking water treatment operators, to ensure they have the requisite skills to undertake their work. The framework was discussed at Australian Water Association’s Water Industry Skills Taskforce (WIST) when the taskforce met on 6 March. The Commission presented two potential pathways to implement a national scheme—a mandatory and a voluntary approach. At WIST’s request, the Commission is now assessing how a voluntary approach, delivered in partnership with the major industry associations, might be delivered.

GDE Atlas: The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Atlas, which was funded by the Commission and launched on the BoM website in September 2012, has been shortlisted for the Geospatial World Excellence Award at the Geospatial World Forum 13–16 May 2013. The GDE Atlas was previously recognised for its excellence at the 8th Annual Victorian Spatial Excellence Awards in August 2012 receiving the award in the Spatial Enablement category.

State level policy reviews: The Commission has made submissions to a number of reviews being undertaken by state governments including the:

  • NSW Government’s Urban Water Regulation Review
  • Natural Resources Commission’s review of NSW water sharing plans.


Upcoming publications and events

Great Artesian Basin reports: On 27 March the Great Artesian Basin Water Resource Assessment (GABWRA) and the Allocating water and maintaining springs in the Great Artesian Basin series of reports will be launched in Adelaide at the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) Researchers Forum. This Australian Government funded GABWRA project has reconceptualised the GAB and drawn together existing knowledge of the resource. The Commission’s mound springs project mapped all springs in the western portion of the basin. Both sets of reports will be available as links from the Commission’s website.

OzWater 13: The Commission looks forward to participating in a busy program at OzWater in Perth. Commission Chair Karlene Maywald will present a keynote address on Tuesday 7 May. We are also involved in two sessions on 7 May: Water markets in Australia, and Mining and water rights. On 8 May, the Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence and the Commission are hosting Better Outcomes for Australia’s Urban Water Research. OzWater 13


Out and about

8th Annual Water Symposium 2013: The Annual Water Symposium, held in Sydney on 22 February, was chaired by Rob Freeman who identified integration issues as one of the most significant future water supply challenges. Karlene Maywald addressed the symposium and explained the Commission’s role in water reform in Australia and our future priorities.

Water sector education, skills and efficiency: The Commission participated in a range of conferences and events in recent months, including Australian Water Association’s 5th National Water Education, Skills and Efficiency Conference and the Water Industry Skills Taskforce in early March.

Urban water research priorities: The Commission hosted a workshop in early February to refine priorities for urban water research and principles for collaboration. These were presented for discussion at the Urban Water Research & Development Partnership Working Group meeting in March 2013. The group, made up of representatives across the urban water sector, was formed to lead actions identified in September 2012 at the inaugural Urban Water Research National Forum.

International Association of Hydrogeologists ACT branch—Aboriginal water seminar: On 12 February, the Commission hosted an IAH seminar presented by Bradley Moggridge, focusing on the cultural value of water and the NSW Aboriginal Water Initiative.

Water Law & Policy Conference, 7 December 2012: The Commission has published a presentation delivered by Karlene Maywald, where she reflected on the new role of the National Water Commission and set the scene for other presentations addressing issues including water regulation and transparency in water accounting. Read more

Sector news

Peter Cullen Trust Science to Policy Leadership Program invites applications

The Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust invites applications for their exciting leadership program. Only 15 people will be selected and funded to undertake this journey of personal and professional discovery. For information see the Peter Cullen Trust Website. Applications close on the 30 April 2013.




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