Demystifying uncertainty and its policy repercussions

Date: 28th February 2023

Webinar recording
This webinar had two presenters.
The first is Chris Li (from CDM Smith). Chris delivered a talk entitled ‘The “Cinderella Syndrome” of groundwater modelling, and overcoming it through risk-orientated uncertainty analysis’ at the recent Australian Groundwater Conference. 
It was highly acclaimed. So we asked him to make his talk a little longer, and allow the rest of us to benefit from hearing it. Here is what he will talk about in his own worlds.

Have you ever wondered about the following questions?

  • “This groundwater model can fit field observations really well, but how much faith can we put in its predictions?”
  • “Can we perform stochastic modelling without blowing project budgets?”
  • “How can we make our uncertainty analysis easier to understand for non-technical stakeholders?”

Chris will explore these topics using real-world project examples.

The second speaker will be Joel Hall from Western Australia Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. Joel summarises his talk as follows.

The challenges that a regulator faces when attempting to use uncertainty analysis in decision-making are of a different nature to that of quantifying uncertainty using a numerical model. In a general sense, the major challenges are non-technical (although there are many technical obstacles that need to be overcome) but are more likely to be institutional and/or arise from gaps in policy. In this session we will discuss some of the major issues and propose a roadmap to make the use of uncertainty analysis in regulatory decision-making the status quo. This will include subjects such as the general lack of guidance in risk-based decision-making where there is a small or medium risk of a “bad thing happening” as well as some of the more realpolitik challenges of changing policy.