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Upgraded models deliver better insights to Murray-Darling Basin Authority

The upgrade will improve how the water models talk to each other, which will allow for more sophisticated and accurate future scenario planning across the Basin.
In a bid to assist water manager decision making throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, the Federal Government has announced a $66 million investment to help provide better information and transparency about water resources.

The funding is set to upgrade the 24 individual river system models utilised by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to measure surface water, and will improve insights into how droughts, high rainfall and bushfire events impact inflows and river connectivity.

Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt said the Basin models are a vital tool that river operators, irrigators and environmental water holders rely on, with the funding set to ensure they are reliable into the future.

“If we want to see a healthy river system that supports agriculture and communities, we have to keep getting better and more efficient in how we use our water, and this modelling upgrade will contribute to that effort,” he said.

“Our river models are already world-leading, but they’re currently being used independently of each other and require significant manual intervention to provide a whole-of-Basin view.”

Pitt said the upgrade will improve how the water models talk to each other, which will allow for more sophisticated and accurate future scenario planning across the Basin.

“Once upgraded, we will have improved capability to explore a range of future scenarios, for example, droughts, high rainfall events and bushfires, and what this will mean for inflows and river connectivity,” he said.

“For environmental water holders, the modelling upgrade will help inform their longer-term strategies to get the best outcomes for floodplain and wetland health, and therefore bird and fish populations.”

Senator for Victoria, and Minister for Emergency Management and National Recovery and Resilience Bridget McKenzie said the investment will give communities more visibility of the water models and the management decisions they inform.

“For the broader community, having more accurate and transparent models will help generate confidence that water users are adhering to the rules and are only taking the water they’re entitled to,” she said.

“Greater transparency around the modelling inputs will give context to the potential risks to water availability under different climatic conditions and help policy makers develop plans to mitigate these risks.”

Member for Nicholls Damian Drum MP said part of the investment will contribute to developing a public portal and provide water users access to better information.

“There’s been a significant push from communities here in Nicholls and across the Basin, as well as from water users to increase water data transparency so they better understand the decisions Basin water managers make,” he said.

All the existing MDBA and state government models are expected to be integrated by mid 2024, with ongoing maintenance of technology to follow.