Aiming for compliance

By Country News

The fight to improve compliance within the Murray-Darling Basin is set to continue, with a new compliance and enforcement policy released.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s new rules outline its compliance priorities for 2018-21 with a focus on transparency and accountability.

MDBA Office of Compliance executive director Russell James said people and businesses in all basin communities depended upon the knowledge that everyone was complying with the rules around water use.

‘‘The MDBA is taking a rigorous approach to our job of ensuring compliance with the basin plan,’’ he said.

‘‘We will work with the state governments to identify and promote good practice in water management, we will conduct audits on different aspects of basin plan implementation, we will investigate cases of non-compliance as necessary, and we will report on the performance of different parties in meeting their basin plan obligations.

‘‘The MDBA will regularly assess the risk of non-compliance with the rules of water use, and concentrate our efforts on areas of highest risk and those that are the most likely to jeopardise the achievement of basin plan outcomes.’’

Mr James said the MDBA would listen to communities, encourage open access and sharing of information and work co-operatively with basin governments.

‘‘Everyone needs to understand and know how to comply with their obligations as the first step towards compliance. In turn, we will publicly report on the MDBA’s compliance activities and decisions to ensure full transparency around our responsibilities,’’ he said.

‘‘We will investigate allegations of non-compliance in a timely manner and use the best available information, taken from sources such as satellite technology, other regulators and input from communities and industry.’’

The MDBA said the body’s responsibilities included ensuring that environmental water was protected, that the methods for measuring water use, such as metering, were fit for purpose, and that water resource plans prepared by basin state governments were complied with, including the limits on water extraction from basin rivers.

Mr James said the MDBA might also investigate allegations of non-compliance by an individual if it considered that a state government was not taking appropriate action.