The Regulatory Framework: Consultations and Discussions

The last in a series of meetings that GMDSI hosted on the groundwater regulatory framework was held on August 18th, 2022. This meeting (attended by 73
people, most of whom were not regulators) discussed the use of groundwater modelling in the regulatory framework. After a brief introduction by Peter
Baker (Office of Water Science), and a short presentation by five experienced panellists, the discussion was handed over to meeting attendees.

Download a report on this meeting (which includes an overview of previous meetings and some reflections on a possible regulatory guidance document) from here.

Download a report on the previous series of meetings from here.

Previous meetings (also hosted by GMDSI) were held between November 2021 and March 2022. These meeting were with Commonwealth, state and territory regulators and with the IESC. They were chaired by Peter Baker; Christina Fawns (also of Office of Water Science) helped with administrative and secretarial tasks. Representing GMDSI were Catherine Moore, Craig Simmons and John Doherty. Over 80 regulatory and related personnel attended these meetings. Discussions were candid, and passionate at times. GMDSI wishes to express its deep gratitude to all who shared their perspectives with us. We learned a lot.

GMDSI was particularly interested in the role that groundwater modelling plays in project approval and oversight. Regulators and industry personnel spoke frankly about this. They informed us of what was working, and what was in need of improvement. They spoke about what regulators could do better, what proponents could do better, and what current modelling guidelines could do better. Some issues differed between regulatory jurisdictions; other issues were common to all.

The report on the regulator meetings  addresses fourteen themes that were raised repeatedly during these meetings. A different section of the report is devoted to each theme. Each section is divided into two parts. The first part presents attendees’ viewpoints on the theme. The second part presents GMDSI’s perspective; this is intended to be a scientific perspective, with no value judgement implied other than a commitment to the scientific method.

The report on the last meeting follows a similar format, but is shorter. It makes some observations on how implementation of the scientific method through simulation and data assimilation technology can alter not only scientific perspectives on environmental stewardship, but also cultural perspectives. It concludes with some recommendations on the contents of a possible guidance document that may assist regulators and project proponents in applying the scientific method to their important lines of work.