This week, the Victorian and NSW Governments released the Independent Expert Panel’s report on the Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment mechanism (SDL adjustment mechanism). The report reflects the findings of the panel, consisting of Don Blackmore, Brett Tucker, Peter Davies, and myself.

As the report notes, the SDL adjustment mechanism is a mechanism established under the Plan, as part of establishing a pathway for sustainable management of the Basin’s water resources. In reviewing the SDL adjustment mechanism assessment method, the Panel found that there is too much focus on the detail, rather than the broader objectives and outcomes sought by the Plan. While the method can establish the upper and lower limit estimates of an optimised system, actually achieving optimised environmental outcomes requires high-level decision makers to engage intelligently with the assessment method and associated results.

The Panel made a series of four recommendations focused on improving the effectiveness of the mechanism within the broader context of the overall Plan, concluding by stating...