The UMCN Water Quality and Security Online Forum, held on Wednesday 9 March 2022, identified that long-term thinking and agility is needed to ensure the best management of water in the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment. Participants called for funding and support for data and monitoring, especially in the “new normal” of unprecedented climatic events. We urge support for restoring river health from many levels: community, government and NGOs towards protecting river water for the benefit of environmental, social and cultural purposes.

A Message from our Panel

The forum highlighted that there are some legislative and policy issues impacting the health of the Upper Murrumbidgee. A review of institutional arrangements (water sharing plan and snowy licence) is needed. This includes the guarantee of baseflows and the protection of environmental flows. 

Importantly, we resolved to mindfully connect with the land, to look for the solutions already in nature. We need to recognise past mistakes, be accountable, learn from mistakes and encourage the next generation to create a better future for water quality and security in the region.


Forum Report

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Our Facilitators

Michael Wrathall – UMCN Chair

Michael has extensive experience participating in and chairing committees, from leading national wetland policy forums to coordinating environmental water delivery across state boundaries. He is currently a Senior Executive in the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office. Here he witnessed the importance of well-coordinated catchment management activities to the health of the entire river system. Michael previously worked for almost a decade in the NSW Department responsible for water. He is familiar with the NSW water management framework, including the operation of the Snowy Water Licence. 

Dr Maxine Cooper – ACTRCMCG

Maxine is Chair, ACT and Regional Catchment Management Coordination Group (Coordination Group). The Coordination Group is an interjurisdictional body established in August 2015 under the ACT Water Resources Act 2007 to advise the ACT Minister for Water. This Group comprises senior executives from the ACT and NSW Governments and adjacent NSW local governments, the National Capital Authority, Icon Water and has a community representative.  The ACT EPA and Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment are regular observers at the Group’s meetings. The Coordination Group funds the UMCN.

Maxine is also Chair of Landcare ACT and Deputy Chair, National Landcare Network and Adjunct Professor, Design and the Built Environment, University of Canberra. She is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia, and a Fellow of the Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand.

She was the Auditor-General for the ACT. Prior to that, Maxine was the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, and before that, the Head of the ACT Water Security Taskforce. She has also held other professional senior executive positions in different jurisdictions, covering a wide range of disciplines.  

Our Panelists

Janice Green – Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Ms Green leads the team at the Bureau of Meteorology responsible for the preparation of the Bureau’s national suite of water information products and services to fulfil its obligations under the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 as the national water information agency. Her specialist areas are in hydrology, hydrometeorology, and water resources assessment and she has been influential in the development of methods and preparation of guidelines for the undertaking of analyses in the Australian hydroclimatic environment. She has worked as a hydrologist in the public sector, at both state and federal levels, in academia and in private industry. 

Owen Gould – Icon Water

Owen Gould leads the Analytical Services Team at Icon Water. The team is responsible for the modelling the sewer collection system, the water distribution system and of course the source water system. Most of the modelling is around long-term capability, augmentation timing and optioneering. However, they also provide guidance for the operational plans of the systems through optimisation modelling.

Owen has been working at Icon Water for over 10 years in a number of positions after completing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Monash University.

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Ralph Ogden – ACT Healthy Waterways

Ralph works as Program Manager of the Healthy Waterways Project within the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate of the ACT Government.

Ralph has served in a number of roles including Director of Knowledge Exchange in the Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, executive manager in the eWater Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), Senior Scientist at the National Water Commission and a Communications Team Leader at eWater Ltd. 

In 2014 Ralph began working as a consultant in knowledge sharing and managing public good partnerships. The consulting work led to a role as Director of Knowledge and Communications at the Australian Water Partnership.

Prior to management roles Ralph was a research scientist at the University of Canberra and CSIRO Land & Water, after receiving my PhD from the Australian National University on the ecology of billabongs on the Murray River and tributaries.

Kuga Kugaprasatham – Yass Valley Council

Kuga Kugaprasatham has worked at Yass Valley Council for nine years and has more than 30 years experience in water supply and sewerage after he received his PhD in Urban Engineering from the University of Tokyo. His previous experience includes an UNEP Project on Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands.

Rebecca Widdows – Yass Valley Council

Rebecca works for Yass Valley Council as the Natural Resource and Sustainability Officer. This role involves advising Council on environmental issues, representing Council on committees and groups relating to NRM, and running programs encouraging members of the community to live more sustainably.

Rebecca has worked in the NRM field in the Yass area for 18 years, with previous roles at the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and South East Local Land Services (LLS). She is a trained ecologist with a Bachelor of Landscape Management and Conservation from Western Sydney University and is an Accredited Assessor under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act (BC Act).

Martin Royds – Jillamatong

Martin Royds family arrived in Braidwood in the 1840s . He is a 5th generation Farmer in the district. His family were involved in running cattle horses and sheep initially on the open grassy woodlands. They cleared the land and drained the swamp’s and were often innovators and early adopters of the latest thinking.

Martin has been involved in Landcare for over 30 years. He was chair of the Braidwood granites, chair of the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare council, committee member on New South Wales Landcare board. He was a founding member in, 2006 of  the natural sequence Association understanding and promoting the insights of Peter Andrews and how the Australian landscape functions.

For a number of years he was on the New South Wales ACT serrated tussock board. He has won regional Landcare awards and in 2011 the national carbon cocky award for “outstanding best practice.”

He has worked with many of the changemakers in the regenerative agriculture field. His goal has been to learn from their insights, science and wisdom to create practical holistic solution for farmers that is environmentally, economically and socially regenerative. He is the present custodian of Jillamatong Braidwood and manages 2400 hectares in the district.

Sharon Gray – Australian National University

Sharon studied Environmental Science (with honours) and Biological Science at LaTrobe University before assisting local government, state government, and private industry in the management of water resources.  

Sharon is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the Australian National University, with her research allowing her to focus on her passion of water resource characterisation to inform sustainable management.  Her interests include utilising hydrological and hydrogeochemical data to characterise aquifer processes.  

She is particularly interested in the application of element and isotope geochemistry as indicators of hydraulic connectivity between aquifers and groundwater-surface water interactions.  

Paul Doyle – NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Paul grew up on the Murrumbidgee in Wagga and has been working in the environmental water space since 2007, with a focus on the Murrumbidgee below Burrinjuck Dam. Since 2017 Paul’s work has also included the Upper Murrumbidgee. Paul drafted the Long Term Environmental Water Plan for the Murrumbidgee and he now works with his colleagues Emma Wilson and Dr Lisa Thurtell on the Snowy and Montane Rivers Increased Flows Program. This program includes planning releases from Tantangara Dam.   

ARCHIVE - Online Forum Program


Michael Wrathall – UMCN Chair


Maxine Cooper – ACT and Region Catchment Management Coordination Group



Janice Green – Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Climate Change Projections for the ACT


Owen Gould – Icon Water

Managing and Modelling Water Security with a Changing Climate


Ralph Ogden – Healthy Waterways ACT Government

New Directions in WSUD with ACT Healthy Waterways


Morning Tea Break


Kuga Kugaprasatham and Rebecca Widdows – Yass Valley Council

The Yass River: Managing Water Supply in a Unique Catchment


Martin Royds – Jillamatong

Water in the Landscape


Lunch Break


Sharon Gray – Australian National University

Understanding the Interactions Between Meteoric, Surface, and Underground Water in the Fractured Rock of the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment


Paul Doyle – NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Tantangara Dam: 2022-23 Release Plans, and Longer Term Issues


Panel Discussion and Q and A