1998 – The Emerging River Murray Water Business – Developing Asset and Risk Management in an Inter-Government Context

David Dole and Brian Haisman

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission recently created River Murray Water, an internal business unit, as a step towards the micro-economic goals of the COAG Water Reforms.

The assets which regulate the River Murray, have a replacement value around $1.4 billion. They range from the 4000 gigalitre Dartmouth Dam in the headwaters, to the 7.5 kilometres of barrages near the Murray mouth and are presently held in trust for the Contracting Governments of the Basin Initiative by one or other of the three riparian states. River Murray Water is bringing the assets together into a single, integrated business with the aim of securing long-run sustainability, funded through pricing for services provided. Broad institutional and pricing principles are described along with the special challenges of an inter-government environment.

These challenges are being met by adopting clarity and simplicity as driving principles, supported by best practice asset information. The paper describes the upfront development of explicit guiding principles and policies, including risk management and dam safety; coordination of activities; generation of life cycle information; and introduction of contestable service provision for the business.

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