07 August, 2012

Murray Darling Basin Plan 06.08.12

How good is this! Written by a knowledgeable, eloquent friend.

EDITORIAL 07.08. 12
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Proposed Basin Plan, released this week, represents a potential communication catastrophe.  In terms of presentation, it is disastrous, bordering on incomprehensible.

It lacks the fundamentals of acceptable information transmission: it has no start, no middle and no ending.  Importantly, it lacks an essential executive summary. The way it is written makes it almost incapable of being condensed, easily absorbed or understood.

It blindly adheres to principles that cannot, or will be extremely difficult, to manage and implement over the various time and evaluation periods specified. In fairness, however, it is probably the fault of the Water Act and political naivety that have created the fundamental flaws on which the Proposed Plan is based.

As outlined in the Plan, around 94% of available rainfall evaporates or transpires through plants. Less than 6% of rainfall runs off into rivers and streams of the Basin.

Climatic conditions vary considerably from region to region and year to year. Rainfall is summer-dominant in the north and winter-dominant in the south. Variation in annual inflow to its rivers over the past 114 years have ranged from a high of around 117,907 GL in 1956 to a low of around 6,740 GL in 2006.

Despite this background, the Plan aims to “protect and restore” the significant social, economic and environmental assets and infrastructure developed over the past century or so, basically by manipulating the wildly variable, often destabilising elements of nature, climate and human endeavour.

A Basin producing an estimated $15 billion annually (40% of Australia’s agricultural production), comprising about 60,000 rural businesses (18,000 of them irrigating crops) and providing water for more than 3.3 million people, deserves a better fate than this 254-page quagmire of legal and bureaucratic jargon, repetitiveness and verbosity.

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