A water resource plan deals with the allocation and sustainable management of water resources to meet future water requirements, and includes provision for the protection of water-dependant ecosystems and security for existing water users.
Part of the amendment process included community involvement through the Community Reference Panel (CRP). Also a Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) was established to provide technical guidance and advice. (See December 2007 Newsletter).
The main technical issue that the plan has to answer is how much water could be extracted from the NSI aquifer in a sustainable way. That is, without putting groundwater dependant ecosystems at risk.
The first stage of the process involved TAP reviewing existing work and information, and developing the methodology for the project: the two TAP members were Associate Professor Malcolm Cox (School of Natural Resource Science and Institute of Sustainable Resources, QUT) and Associate Professor Alison Specht (Centre for Coastal Management and School of Environmental Science and Management, SCU). At the same time DERM carried out field investigations and installed additional monitoring. The Stage 1 TAP draft report was released around October 2008.
The following stage of the process involved computer modelling of the NSI aquifer and its interaction with all of the groundwater dependent ecosystems. This work was undertaken within DERM, with the TAP withdrawing from the process. The Stage 2 report draft was released to the CRP for comment in early 2010, but unfortunately, details of the report have been designated “confidential”. However, the work done is a significant contribution to the beginning of an understanding of the NSI aquifer and groundwater dependent ecosystems.
For those interested in more detail, newsletters outlining each stage of the process are available from www.qld.gov.au/wrp/logan.html.