The Minister for Environment and Water, The Honourable David Speirs, announced his strategy to address the risks to groundwater resources in the Lower Limestone Coast (LLC). This follows the Goyder Institute for Water Research’s review of the science underpinning reductions to water allocations in the 2013 LLC Water Allocation Plan (WAP) and an updated risk assessment.
The WAP sets out the rules to protect groundwater resources in the region for water users and proposed to reduce irrigators’ water allocations in high risk areas. Reductions were scheduled to take place in 2016, 2018 and, subject to a further risk assessment, 2020 and 2022. Due to concerns raised about the science that underpinned the initial 2012 risk assessment, the Minister for Environment and Water put the 2018 reductions on hold to allow for an independent review.
The South East Natural Resources Management (SE NRM) Board commissioned the Goyder Institute to undertake an independent science review via an expert panel so that information gathered could feed into an updated risk assessment. Professor Craig Simmons, Director of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training at Flinders University, chaired the expert panel comprised of panellists Professor Peter Cook (Flinders University), Dr Lu Zhang (CSIRO) and Professor Andrew Boulton (Flinders University). The Institute’s science review informed a second risk assessment, which the SE NRM Board used as a basis for making recommendations to the Minister, who will implement the following strategy:
Previous reductions to water allocations made in 2016 will not be returned as part of this process – a precautionary measure while further technical work is carried out over the next three years.
Contact Goyder Institute Director Dr Kane Aldridge for more information on the Institute’s capacity to bring together scientists and policy makers across the water resource sector to offer independent, expert advice.