Few organisations are so critical to the present and ongoing prosperity and environmental health of the region than the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
The authority holds enormous sway for its role in managing the way we store and use water for a range of uses.
That is everything from agriculture to water releases that aim to maintain the health of our rivers.
Put simply, so much is at stake – for so many people – in being able to achieve sustainable, workable solutions in what is a highly complex balancing act.
This has become even more crucial with the ongoing work on developing a overarching plan for the Murray Darling Basin.
In more recent times, the authority was front and centre of concerns by some farmers aggrieved by the authority’s actions in allowing greater releases from Lake Hume during last year’s unusually wet late winter-early spring.
Some said the situation had not been managed properly by the authority – too much water meant valuable pastures were flooded and fences damaged, landholders argued.
The authority countered that argument by highlighting just how methodically such decisions are reached, pointing out that some flooding is almost inevitable when such an “act of God” as high rainfall occurs.
Regardless, there were major concerns raised about the lack of a clear communication path between the authority and the community over such incredibly important matters.
This was raised in meetings that followed and certainly emphasised the need for far better engagement by the authority. It was quite obvious that the authority could do better to ensure much improved liaison with the wider community.
This, of course, could bring about more effective implementation of the work it has to do, through making sure the public is not only better informed but could also provide the kind of feedback that can ultimately lead to better decisions.
It is within this climate that it has been announced that Albury-Wodonga has been selected as one of three sites where up to 10 authority workers will be based.
This decentralisation plan is extremely welcome and should help the authority become better connected with the communities so intrinsically affected by its decision-making process.