Avril Horne

Avril Horne

Avril Horne, Australia.

Dr Avril Horne is a water policy specialist, with fifteen years’ experience across a range of interdisciplinary projects having spent time in consulting, government and academia. Avril has been involved a range of regional river health prioritisation projects and environmental flow assessments. As an assistant director in the water group at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, she was heavily involved in the development of the water trading rules for the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Avril returned to academia in 2014, and is currently working on projects developing tools and systems to assist in the active management of environmental water. Avril is the lead editor for “Water for the Environment: from policy and science to implementation and management”, a book that includes contributions from over 50 leading scientists and practitioners internationally.

Presentation title: Environmental water allocation mechanisms: Release rules or active and variable management.

The common administrative mechanism for providing environmental flows in regulated river is by applying rules that either: require storage operators to release flow from storage; or restrict the periods when private water users can divert water from the river.  However, more recently and in some river systems, environmental water has been provided through environmental water rights.  This is an allocation mechanism that, rather than establishing rules and target environmental flow regimes, requires ongoing and active decisions around how and when to release this water from storage and which assets or flow components to target.  Environmental water entitlements and active management provide benefits in terms of legal security, flexibility, transferability and adaptive management.  However, they also require significant additional planning and management resources.  This presentation discusses the differences between rules-based environmental water release strategies and active management of environmental entitlements, demonstrating this using modelled environmental outcomes using the two different allocation mechanisms in the same river system (the Yarra River, Australia).  The modelling demonstrates significant improvements in environmental outcomes through active management of environmental water rights where enabling institutional structures and resources are in place.

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