Basin Plan enviro water chief David Papps steps down

Murray Darling Basin Plan Commonwealth Environment Water Holder retires


National Issues
Fyke nets are used to sample fish and turtles in Bunnor Waterhole in the Gwydir Wetlands. Photo: I. Tsoi.

Fyke nets are used to sample fish and turtles in Bunnor Waterhole in the Gwydir Wetlands. Photo: I. Tsoi.

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Former MDBA official Jody Swirepik new Commonwealth Environment Water Holder

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David Papps is stepping down from his role of Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and retiring from the Public Service.

Mr Papps, despite having one of the most challenging jobs in the controversial Basin Plan reform, was well-regarded in the irrigation community. 

David Papps has stepped down from the role of Commonwealth Environment Water Holder.

David Papps has stepped down from the role of Commonwealth Environment Water Holder.

As the inaugural water holder, a position he held for five years, he was responsible for pushing Commonwealth water entitlements through the regulated and unregulated parts of the Murray Darling system to benefit environmental assets across the Basin.

Following an open recruitment process, Jody Swirepik was appointed as Mr Papps replacement.

Ms Swirepik is currently a Clean Energy Regulator executive and was previously the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s executive director of environmental management.

New Commonwealth Environment Water Holder Jody Swirepik.

New Commonwealth Environment Water Holder Jody Swirepik.

She has more than 25 years experience in the water sector, including work on state water reforms under the National WaterIinitiative, the Living Murray Program, state deliver of environmental water and a program to control acidification of the lower lakes during the Millennium drought.

Ms Swirepik starts in the role on Monday 12 February.

The Water Holder is supported by the Environmental Water Office.

They manage a portfolio of Commonwealth Water Entitlements, acquired under the Basin Plan.

Using complex water trade and carryover mechanisms the water holder pushes flows down the regulated and unregulated river systems to benefit environmental assets  such as wetlands, lakes and forests across the Basin.

A recent example of the water holder in action occurred on the Lower Darling in November, when Mr Papps teamed with state and federal agencies to slow down and extend a summer water release from Menindee Lakes to benefit cod breeding. 

Fish got a helping hand from the water holder, who provided NSW with some of his Murray Valley entitlements to compensate for evaporation losses from the hot weather flow event.

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