The Living Murray is a joint initiative and is managed collaboratively by partner governments. The Murray–Darling Basin Intergovernmental Agreement (National Water Commission 2004) outlines the governance arrangement for the implementation of The Living Murray. The IGA 2004 is complemented by The Living Murray Business Plan which provides operational policies to guide the implementation of TLM.
The groups with a direct role in TLM governance are the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council, the Authority, the Basin Officials Committee (BOC), The Living Murray Committee (TLMC) and the Environmental Watering Group (EWG), see Figure : The Living Murray governance structure.
While the MDBA plays a key coordination role at a TLM-wide level, management and delivery of TLM activities at the icon sites is primarily undertaken by relevant government agencies in the jurisdictions where the icon sites are located. The ultimate responsibility to ensure the icon sites are successfully governed lies with the Icon Site Manager.
Figure : The Living Murray governance structure
1.8.1 Icon site committees
There are numerous government agencies and community groups with responsibilities and interests in management of the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth. Consequently, the previous icon site governance structure has been adapted to complement other structures to ensure an integrated planning and policy approach, avoid duplication of effort and maximise opportunities to achieve multiple benefits and positive outcomes.
The icon site governance arrangements include the provision of community and scientifc advice, through the Community Advisory Panel, the Scientific Advisory Group and the Barrage Operations Group . Ngarrindjeri input into governance, policy and planning is framed by the 2009 whole-of-government Kungun Ngarrindjeri Yunnan Agreement which recognises the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority as the Ngarrindjeri peak body. Interactions between government and Ngarrindjeri take place through the Kungun Ngarrindjeri Yunnan Agreement Task Force and Leader-to-Leader meeetings. The Community Advisory Panel and Scientific Advisory Group advise on environmental works and measures, and monitoring and research at the LLCMM site. The Community Advisory Panel and Scientific Advisory Group also advise on the development of TLM environmental water bids to ensure water bids are informed, scientifically defendable and logistically feasible.
High-Level Coordinating Committee
As of 2013, the Murray-Darling Basin Coordinating Committee provides high-level direction and support to all DEWNR-based River Murray projects, including the implementation of The Living Murray program and The Murray Futures Long Term Plan for the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM), Securing the Future (a complementary plan that provides direction for the future management of the CLLMM region as a healthy, productive and resilient wetland of international importance). Previous high-level committees have included a cross agency Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Steering Committee, and a South Australian Icon Site High Level Steering Committee.
In March 2012, the icon site’s old Community Reference Group was merged with the then Department of Environment and Natural Resources Community Advisory Group. This new Community Advisory Panel provides advice to both The Living Murray icon site and Murray Futures programs. Advice is provided to the Icon Site Manager on proposed icon site strategies, policies, management actions and proposed works and measures and provides a direct link, through cross membership, to other community groups. The Community Advisory Panel is chaired by a regional community member and comprises representatives from a broad cross-section of the community with local expertise and knowledge.
LLCMM Scientific Advisory Group
The Scientific Advisory Group is chaired by DEWNR as the Icon Site Manager and provides a forum for the scientific community to provide input and advice in relation to icon site planning, water management, research, monitoring, infrastructure initiatives and strategic directions. The Scientific Advisory Group also provides scientific input to environmental watering bids.
LLCMM Barrage Operations Group
The Barrage Operations Group, chaired by the MDBA, advises on real-time barrage water release strategies and provides a direct link to general river operations and management. The Icon Site Manager is a member of the group.
Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority, Yarluwar-Ruwe Program
The Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority was incorporated in 2008 and members include the Ngarrindjeri Nation communities and organisations as well as the Ngarrindjeri native title claimants and the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee. The Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority is signatory to the Ngarrindjeri Regional Partnership Agreement with the Australian and South Australian governments. Through its Yarluwar-Ruwe Program (Caring for Country) the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority is working with government and local communities to develop new forms of natural resource management governance that recongise Ngarrindjeri values and incorporate Ngarrindjeri expertise and capacity. Further research is required to understand the effects of declining water availability and quality on Ngarrindjeri culture in the region. The Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority has established a Research, Policy and Planning Unit to lead the development of its research and policy program.
1.8.2 Management roles and responsibilities
A number of South Australian government agencies and organisations have specific responsibilities in relation to management of the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, Coorong and Murray Mouth region.
The South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) has the lead role in the management of South Australia's water resources and advises the Government on the quantity, quality, use and availability of the State’s water resources. DEWNR also has the lead responsibility for River Murray management including environmental water policy, planning and management; and has the key role in relation to The Living Murray Initiative and icon site management, and is the primary point of contact with the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.
DEWNR provides oversight of the Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Ramsar Management Plan, the JAMBA, CAMBA and ROKAMBA agreements, and manages the Coorong National Park and Crown Lands within the region. DEWNR also has the lead responsibility in relation to the Murray Futures Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Project.
South Australia Water manages MDBA River Murray assets in South Australia and physically operates and maintains the locks, weirs and barrages under direction from the MDBA, with input from DEWNR.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) acts as the caretaker of fish resources in South Australia, through the Fisheries Division. The role of the division includes management and planning of the Coorong and Lakes fisheries.