The Victorian government oversees many assessments of groundwater resources. These assessments vary greatly in the scope of the assessment, the availability of supporting data and the range of organisations conducting the assessment. To assist the comparability of the range of assessments performed and to encourage consistency of use of assessments a framework and guideline for undertaking resource assessments has been developed. This framework addresses the following elements of groundwater assessments for management:
- Problem statement - management decision(s) that is/are required to be assessed, and the technical questions that are required to be addressed by the assessment and evidence supporting the decision(s)
- Conceptualisation - Development of a conceptual model that provides an appropriate level of understanding.
- Data adequacy assessment - Scrutinizes the available knowledge including the conceptual model to identify major knowledge gaps and uncertainties
- Preliminary risk assessment - Establish early insight into the likely risk to values to inform application of an “effort commensurate with risk” principle
- Assessment method selection - Selection of an assessment method that is consistent with framework principles and provides outputs aligned with technical questions set out in the problem statement
- Application & predictions - Undertake the technical assessment to provide evidence to support a response to the problem statement management question.
- Final risk assessment - Use the assessment application and predictions to provide the decision maker within an understanding of the risks inherent in the management decision.
- Documentation - Provide a summary response to the problem statement providing the information/evidence necessary to inform and justify the management decision.
- Risk and Uncertainty – integrates risk and uncertainty assessment throughout the assessment chain.
Through the process of developing the framework a few key aspects have emerged that will form important parts of future assessment undertaken by and for the Victorian Government. Explicit statement of the purpose and scope of the assessment is required to be able to determine if the resulting assessment is fit for purpose. Analysis of uncertainty of any assessment and resulting findings is essential. Development of an analysis method that is supported by both the overall need and the available data.
The assessment framework is being trialed on current assessments in Victoria.