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SOUTHERN GROUNDWATER & RIVERS FORUM

held on Thursday, 13 September 2012

Video Conference - Werribee & Maffra Office Boardrooms

commencing at 10.00 am


DRAFT MINUTES


MEMBERS PRESENT:







Maffra Office

Ross Ingram - Chairperson

Damian Moore




Liz Clay

Tom Wallace




Matt Gleeson













Werribee Office

Peter Delahunty

Patrick Toohey




Basil Ryan










APOLOGY:

David Hotchkin







IN ATTENDANCE:

Craig Parker, General Manager Groundwater & Rivers




Naomi Pye, Board Member




Janet Granger-Wilcox, Manager Communications




Bruce Foley, Business Improvement Officer




Penny Winbanks, Project Manager, Water Plans and Strategy




Chris Hughes, Manager Field Operations & Compliance




Brian Carr, Corporation Secretary




Elizabeth Gross – Minute Taker







GUESTS:

Chris McCauley, Principal Hydrogeologist – Manager, Resource Assessment & Planning, DSE

Julia DeLuca, Environmental Hydrogeologist, Groundwater & Allocation, DSE






  1. WELCOME

The Chairperson welcomed all attendees to the meeting which was held by videoconference.


2 APOLOGIES
Apology received from David Hotchkin.
3 CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
There were no conflicts of interest.


  1. MINUTES OF MEETING HELD 14 JUNE 2012

Minutes of meeting held 14 June 2012 were accepted. Moved, Liz Clay, seconded Tom Wallace.



  1. BUSINESS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES

There was no business arising from the previous Minutes.


6 DSE GROUNDWATER PROJECT UPDATE
The Chairperson welcomed Chris McCauley and Julia DeLuca from the Department of Sustainability and Environment. During the presentation, Chris advised that:


  • The SAFE Project was completed last financial year and the outcomes from the project will now be implemented in conjunction with Rural Water Corporations (RWC’s).

  • One outcome is the map that shows the new groundwater basins and groundwater catchment units, as well as existing groundwater management areas (GMA’s) and Water Supply Protection Areas (WSPA’s).

  • There are 12 groundwater catchment units and 3 groundwater basins across the SRW area. Groundwater will be reported at a basin level and managed at a groundwater catchment unit level. The maps will form the basis of implementing a new groundwater management framework.

  • The final report included recommendations for some changes to existing boundaries (GMA’s and WSPA’s) but the ultimate decision will be left to RWC’s to consider in consultation at a local level through the development of Local Management Plans.

  • DSE is currently working with SRW on local management plans. This will assist SRW to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Water Strategies and will ensure alignment with the new groundwater management framework.

  • The groundwater management framework will be looking at resource share and the considerations RWC’s need to apply when making decisions. This will include the need to consider interaction between groundwater and surfacewater systems. A draft is being developed by DSE and will be followed by a consultation process.

  • The groundwater management framework will not make specific recommendations about water trading but as the groundwater catchment units recognise the connection between aquifers, there may be scope for RWC’s to develop rules to allow trades between GMA’s and WSPA’s.

  • From DSE perspective, they want consistency across the State from planning, management and reporting perspectives.

  • DSE consider that SRW’s groundwater Atlases’ will complement the work being done by DSE rather than being a duplication. The atlases provide regional level information and provides water users with knowledge of groundwater in their area.

The Chairperson thanked Chris McCauley and Julia Deluca for attending and giving another informative update.


7 GIPPSLAND GROUNDWATER ATLAS UPDATE
Penny Winbanks referred to the Gippsland Groundwater Atlas Report which was circulated with the Agenda.
8 SWS IMPLEMENTATION
Craig Parker gave an update on the SWS implementation. The key actions discussed were:


The following points were raised during discussion:
Water Trading


  • A water trading initiative has been included in Water Plan 3 that aims to increase trade in SRW’s area.

  • There will be a review of SRW’s processes around transfers with the aim to streamline short-term, low risk applications.

  • As there is a large number of sleeper licences and it was suggested to the Forum that there is an opportunity for SRW being a broker.

  • SRW advised that in the past it was not considered an option as it would be seen as a conflict of interest.

  • There is a need for someone to facilitate water trading in SRW’s area, but that does not mean SRW doing the job.

New Water Allocations




  • The SWS’s made additional volumes of water available for allocation in certain areas, but this is on the basis of recognising the value of the water.

  • SRW proposes to allocate these volumes using a tender process or auction process.

  • The same process will also be considered for allocation in capped catchments where water has become available due to the surrender of licences.

  • A trial auction will be undertaken on the Mitchell River before 30 June 2013.

Access to High Flows




  • The SWS’s provide the option for SRW to allow winter-fill licence holders to access their entitlement outside of the designated period during high flows.

  • SRW will consider which systems are applicable and will work with stakeholders and licence holders to develop the rules that would apply.

  • Some systems that may be applicable are the Mitchell River, Avon River and Barwon River.


9 FORUM COMMITTEE HANDBOOK
Brian Carr referred to the revised Customer Consultative Committee (CCC) Handbook which was circulated previously. The revised CCC Handbook brings together previous handbooks for CCCs and Southern Groundwater & Rivers Forum.
The CCC now includes the Wellington Community Salinity Group as well as Board policies such as:

Brian requested Forum Members feedback on:



  • Whether anything is missing; or

  • Whether parts are surplus




Forum Members to provide any comments on amendments or improvements either at this meeting or to the next meeting of the Forum.

Brian also advised that a public meeting with Board Members and Customer Committees will be held at the Maffra Cricket Club at 5.00 pm on Wednesday, 3 October 2012. Advertisements will be placed in the newspapers.



10 LOCAL CATCHMENT REPORTS
Chris Hughes referred to the Local Water Reports which were circulated to Forum Members with the Agenda and requested their views on the content of the local water reports and for any topics they would like included.
Pat Toohey advised that in the Barwon, Leigh and Moorabool Basin Local Water Report March 2012, an amendment needs to be made as follows:
Moorabool River - 2nd paragraph should read – “The release from the Lal Lal Reservoir …..entitlement for the Lower Moorabool River.”
11 SRW UPDATE
11.1 Communications Report
Janet Granger-Wilcox referred to the Communications Report which was circulated with the Agenda.
Consideration is being given to not using the word “Innovation” in the title of “Rural Water Innovation Awards” as this seems to be a deterrent from submissions. Janet also requested Members to assist in identifying prospective applicants for the next Awards.


Forum Members to assist in identifying prospective applicants for the next Awards



11.2 Water Register
Bruce Foley gave an update on the Water Register and advised that:


  • DSE is keen for all water authorities to look at the data in the Water Register relating to land parcel information which is to be completed within the next 5 years.

  • Automating the process for Bore Construction Licences.


11.3 Water Plan 3 Update
Craig Parker referred to the Water Plan 3 report which was circulated with the Agenda.
12 UPDATES FROM FORUM MEMBERS ON LOCAL ISSUES
Forum Members shared issues relevant to their local areas.
13 OTHER MATTERS
13.1 Yallourn Mine Flooding Emergency Briefing 16 August 2012
Craig Parker gave an outline on what happened and where they are now in relation to the failure of the Morwell River Diversion at the Yallourn Mine. He outlined the following:

What is Tru Energy doing?



  • Yallourn supplies 22% of Victoria’s power needs and 8% of the national electricity market. Reducing the water levels in the Mine is essential to ensure the security of the mine and to restore full power generation capability.




  • Tru Energy takes their environmental responsibilities seriously and want to maintain the health of the Morwell and Latrobe Rivers




  • Tru Energy are complying with EPA licence approvals.




  • An independent nationally certified water testing laboratory is undertaking regular water quality monitoring of discharges to the Morwell and Latrobe Rivers in accordance with EPA discharge approvals.




  • Tru Energy is keeping EPA and DPI fully informed on emergency recovery plans and monitoring information.


13.2 Potable Water Guidelines


  • Pat Toohey advised that there is a Bill before Parliament regarding Catchment Management Authorities (CMA). Currently CMA’s are referral authorities but will become Advisory authorities. This will reduce CMA’s ability to influence planning applications.




  • Pat Toohey raised his concerns with the potable water guidelines that are being considered by the Minister for Water as he believed that there had been no proper consultation. The potable water guidelines apply to landowners in potable water catchments and limit what can be done on their land. Pat was interested in SRW’s involvement in the process, whether feedback had been provided to VicWater and whether SRW was going to consult with their customers.

Craig Parker responded that the potable water guidelines primarily relate to urban water corporations due to safe drinking water regulations, and SRW’s obligations only relate to our role as a headworks operator.


14 FORWARD AGENDA ITEMS

Topics for future discussion:




Water Trading – how to increase trade – Craig

December

Communications – What you get for your licence fees




Planning future impacts of farms




Recycled water being used to recharge aquifers – DSE




Electronic Funds Transfer and electronic invoicing with SRW




Carbon capture and storage




Planning and referral considerations – including septic systems in potable catchments





15 NEXT MEETING DATE
Thursday, 6 December 2012 – Melbourne; lunch with the SRW Board (venue to be advised)
It was agreed that “Water Trading – How to increase trade” will be a workshop at the December meeting.


Craig to forward papers on “Water Trading – How to increase trade” to Forum Members prior to the next meeting on 6 December.

16 MEETING CLOSED

Meeting closed at 2.40 pm

ACTION LIST


Meeting Raised

Agenda

Item

Action

Action Officer

Current Status

December 2011

7

DSE’s Level of Influence on SRW



Clinton Rodda


Meeting not yet held



March 2012



8

Strategy

  • Management to consider Electronic Funds Transfer and electronic invoicing



Craig Parker







March 2012



8

Strategy

  • Management to consider education in regard to on-farm water use efficiencies



Craig Parker







June 2012

8.1

Communications Report

  • Fact Sheet on the way meters are funded



Janet Granger-Wilcox



Was included as an article in the “Diversions Newsletter”

June 2012

8.1

Communications Report

  • consider communication on Southern Rural Water’s “Hardship Policy”



Janet Granger-Wilcox






June 2012

8.3

Water Plan 3

  • The Forum requested that Management consider the following issues for inclusion in Water Plan 3:

    • supporting river health

    • back-office cost savings – including reduced power costs

    • funding arrangements for metering program

    • our assumptions regarding the impact of a Carbon Tax

    • becoming carbon neutral



Lincoln Eddy






Sept 2012

9

Forum Committee Handbook

Forum Members to provide comments on amendments or improvements either at this meeting or to the next meeting on 6 December of the Forum.



Forum Members




Sept 2012

11.1

Rural Water Innovation Awards

Forum Members to assist in identifying prospective applicants for the next Awards



Forum Members




Sept 2012

14

Forward Agenda Items

Paper on “Water Trading – How to increase trade” to be sent to Forum Members prior to the next meeting on 6 December.



Craig Parker







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