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Menindee ‘model’ OK

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018

By Craig Brealey

The controversial plans for the Menindee Lakes had been “independently modelled” by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and backed by the States, according to the Federal Government. 

The government was replying to important questions raised about the “business case” on which the proposed reconfiguration of the lakes is based.

This case, put forward by the NSW Government and the MDBA, was assessed by an international technical services firm on behalf of the Federal Department of  Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR).

It was found seriously wanting.

The firm, Jacobs Engineering, stated that it “did not represent an organised, comprehensive, consistent or persuasive case for the project.”

Jacobs also found “limited evidence to provide any confidence that the identified benefits are real.”

The assessment by Jacobs was presented to the DAWR in October last year. 

Yesterday, the BDT asked the Federal Water Minister, David Littleproud, and the NSW Water Minister, Niall Blair, to explain how the business case could be used to justify the Menindee Lakes Project, given Jacob’s damning findings.

Mr Littleproud was also asked if the Jacobs report had been officially released to the public.

Mr Blair has yet to reply but we received the following from the DAWR on behalf of Mr Littleproud. 

“The Jacobs review, made public on the department’s FOI (Freedom of Information) disclosure log on August 29, 2018 identified a number of matters that need to be addressed by the NSW Government as the project’s proponent. 

“These matters were included in the assessment of the project for the SDL (Sustainable Diversion Limit) adjustment mechanism by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.”

(SDL means the volume of water that can be “sustainably” diverted from the river system).

“All projects, including the Menindee project, were reviewed, assessed and recommended by all Basin jurisdictions and independently modelled by the MDBA as part of the SDL Adjustment Mechanism package.”

However, this “modelling” by the MDBA was also called into question in the Jacobs report which found that the MDBA had provided no evidence to back its claims.

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