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More than mitigation: Using irrigation modernisation to improve ecological resilience Chris Solum (NVIRP) Emer Campbell (North Central CMA) Co-author.

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Presentation on theme: "More than mitigation: Using irrigation modernisation to improve ecological resilience Chris Solum (NVIRP) Emer Campbell (North Central CMA) Co-author."— Presentation transcript:

1 More than mitigation: Using irrigation modernisation to improve ecological resilience Chris Solum (NVIRP) Emer Campbell (North Central CMA) Co-author

2 Overview What is NVIRP? What exactly is the problem here? How are we managing this problem? How did we get here? A lot of help from our friends Summary

3 What is NVIRP?

4 It’s this

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9 Source: G&M Poly PTY LTD

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11 But is it this?

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15 What’s the problem? Big projects need to deal with their environmental impacts In our case that means mitigating ecological impacts arising from hydrological changes Can we do better than that?

16 So what was the solution?

17 Environmental Watering Plans Ecological baseline hard to measure Develop ecological objectives Set a water regime to meet those objectives – Use local and specialist expertise – Resilience boundaries identified (how long can a wetland withstand being dry or wet without impacts to function) Determine volume of water required – Bathymetric surveys & daily time-step model for wetlands. – Flow study for waterways

18 Environmental Watering Plans Assess hydrological impacts against preferred water regime Findings reviewed by an expert panel and approved by Victorian Minister for Water, Federal Minister for Environment. Outcome: An impact assessment that doubles as a high quality management plan

19 Mitigation Water Was the previous operation good or bad? Set aside volume of beneficial water New entitlement type -> dedicated to env. Outcome: Impacts mitigated and water delivered when the environment actually needs it -> resilience improved

20 Environmental Infrastructure Project is decommissioning circa 50% channels Some channels are needed for env. Flows Solution -> treat env. as a customer – We pay to reconnect plus O&M costs – Enhance supply infrastructure where practicable Outcome: Env. water delivery assured, costs covered, water delivery better suited to ecological objectives

21 So how did we get here? We didn’t have these outcomes in mind in the beginning No local precedents but lots of local knowledge A need to cover off legislative requirements

22 Environmental Technical Advisory Committee Agency-based Empowered to fulfill role Expectation of representing view of respective organisations Works to develop solutions to problems that everyone can live with

23 Risk assessment - narrowing the field of view Legislative requirements – EPBC Act, EE Act Looked at possible impact pathways such as direct and indirect flows to environment and evidence of high environmental value Also looked at more abstract regional/cumulative impacts Reduced potential sites from wetlands and 20+ waterways down to 9 wetlands and 3 waterways ‘at- risk’

24 Development of a guiding framework Developed by NVIRP to be consistent with negotiated outcomes by ETAC Covers off on all described earlier and more Consistent methodology Sets out agreed roles and responsibilities Jargon alert! – It’s adaptive

25 Development of a guiding framework Developed by NVIRP to be consistent with negotiated outcomes by ETAC Covers off on all described earlier and more Consistent methodology Sets out agreed roles and responsibilities Buzzword alert! – It’s adaptive

26 Key messages Be kind to your friends Listen to the experts and local practitioners Don’t constrain the scope too early Mitigating impacts is ok; improving ecological resilience better The marginal cost difference between the two is often negligible

27 Agency stakeholder acknowledgement Environmental Technical Advisory Committee – North Central CMA (also wrote EWPs) – Goulburn-Broken CMA (also wrote EWP) – Goulburn-Murray Water – Dep. Sustainability and Environment – Dep. Primary Industries – Parks Victoria.

28 Consultant acknowledgement Sinclair Knight Merz (referrals, hydrology) Hydro Environmental (short-listing ‘at-risk’ wetlands, groundwater impact assessment) Feehan Consulting (short-listing ‘at-risk’ waterways, ongoing support) Seran (framework development)

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