October 2017

Rural Water Advisory up and going

24.10.2017 - Posted by Kane Travis

Very happy to announce our new subsidiary venture designed to support sustainable water resource management and development in the rural sector.
Rural Water Advisory (RWA) operates under an independent Board and focuses on supporting landholders, rural water suppliers and local Councils to work in partnership with Commonwealth and State Governments delivering modernisation and water saving projects.
Leveraging science and engineering skills from Alluvium and Economics from Natural Capital Economics, RWA seeks to provide a new, independent and highly skilled practice to respond to water policy, planning with design challenges in the rural sector.  Our work benefits regional communities, the agricultural sector and the health of rural waterways.
RWA has been busy for 12 months aligning commonwealth needs and with private sector needs and most recently has been supporting the NSW Government to prepare EOI applications and preliminary business cases for water infrastructure projects to receive funding under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund. 
Find out more at www.ruralwateradvisory.com.au

Valuing ecosystem services in the Ayeyarwady River Basin

23.10.2017 - Posted by Josh Tait
As I wait to board my flight home from the great city of Yangon I thought I would take this opportunity to write a blog about what I have been doing over here. In a nutshell, Myanmar is undergoing national water reform to develop the institutions and tools required for the sustainable management of the nation’s water resources. Part of this reform includes an integrated river basin management plan for the Ayeyarwady River Basin (ARB). 

The ARB is a significant and defining landmark in Myanmar, expanding over 400,000 km2 (~ 59% of Myanmar’s total landmass). The figure below depicts the ARB, the regions located in the Basin and the major waterways. The population of the ARB is estimated at around 33.2 million (64% of Myanmar’s population). The people of Myanmar have a powerful connection with the Basin, particularly the 2,170km long Ayeyarwady River, and this is clearly evident with how they respect and engage with it daily.
A key building block in the development of integrated river basin management is the development of a comprehensive environmental, social and economic baseline. The baseline, to be documented in a State of the Basin Assessment (SOBA) report, will explore the historical and future trends of key characteristics of the Basin and how it is used for the economic benefit of communities and the country. The SOBA is being developed in six packages of work covering the natural, economic and social systems of the Basin. We have been engaged by the Australian Water Partnership to undertake a rapid assessment to quantify the ecosystem services of the Basin. 
The ARB is vitally important to Myanmar’s stock of natural capital, economy and many peoples' livelihoods. With large scale development of the basin’s water resources likely to occur over the coming decades, there are significant risks to the physical integrity and condition of the Basin’s natural capital. The physical impacts of poor management could be profound and would have major consequences for the country’s economy.

Some Basin statistics:
The ARB has 7.5 million ha of agricultural land, approximately 59% of agricultural land nationally
The ARB accounts for approximately 87% of mining activity nationally
The ARB holds most the of the country’s on-shore energy resources, approximately contributing: 40% to national oil production, 45% to national biomass production and 63% to national hydropower production  
The waterways of the ARB represent approximately 71% of navigable inland water routes nationally
75% of registered manufacturing enterprises in 2014 – 2015 were in the ARB states/regions

Our work focused on six key ecosystem services.
Inland Water Transport 
Potable Water Supply
We have estimated the aggregate value of the above six ecosystem services is in the range of USD 2.5 to USD 7.5 billion per annum (Myanmar total GDP for 2016 was USD 75.1 Billion). So, something very significant and worth considering as Myanmar further develops the basin!

Finally, it has been an absolute privilege to work with such inspired local and international contributors – I truly hope this is just the beginning of Alluvium and my work in Myanmar. A big thank you to Alluvium and Natural Capital Economics for giving me this experience. 
Feel free to get in touch if you would like to know more.


Engaging with complexity in the Mekong

5.10.2017 - Posted by Simon Tilleard
Having spent almost 10 years living and/or working on water resources issues within the Mekong Basin, I have seen first-hand the complexity and challenges facing water management. Water scarcity, flood, transboundary management, competing users and climate change are real challenges that government, NGOs, academia and the private sector are working on every day to address. This complexity and uncertainty needs to be acknowledged and engaged with, particularly in a basin where the conclusions are dynamic and the stakes are high (60 million people live in the basin!). 
Along with a few colleagues who have also worked in the region, I was recently surprised to read a paper in the well-respected Asia and Pacific Policy Society that overlooked many of these important complexities whilst calling for improved water governance in the region. So we wrote a response to emphasise that enhancing transboundary water governance in the Mekong region is a worthy goal, but it needs to be grounded in evidence, analysis and an understanding of the context.
See the response here