News

Climate impact to be studied

By Country News

More research will go into assessing the impact climate change will have on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority releasing a discussion paper last week.

The announcement follows the scathing South Australian Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin which accused the MDBA of not taking climate change into account when setting the environmentally sustainable level of take (ESLT).

MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde said the overwhelming scientific consensus was that climate change was currently affecting the basin, meaning more work was needed to inform future management strategies.

‘‘The MDBA’s discussion paper kicks off the next phase of work to better understand the likely impacts of climate change on the basin in the future and to identify where the information gaps are,’’ he said.

‘‘That means we need input from the scientific community and other stakeholders to make sure our climate change work program is fit for purpose and will meet the future needs of the basin’s environment, communities and industries.’’

The best available science during the creation of the basin plan in 2012 revealed that climate in the southern basin was expected to be hotter and drier but it was ‘‘less conclusive’’ about the expected effect on rainfall in the north, according to Mr Glyde.

‘‘We now know more. Rainfall patterns are changing and these changes will increase pressure on the health of the basin’s environment, its communities and its economy. It’s also likely that the management, sharing and delivery of water will become more complex and contested,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ll be working closely with scientists in a wide range of fields, including experts at the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, different research bodies across Australia as well as with our own scientific advisory body.

‘‘Managing the impact of climate change is multifaceted and we need to understand what is possible in the way we operate rivers, protect water quality and river ecosystems, support water markets and trade so they help irrigators and communities to adapt to a future with less water.’’

■The discussion paper is available on the publications page of the MDBA website at: www.mdba.gov.au/publications

■To respond to the discussion paper, email: climatechange@mdba.gov.au