The Australian Government is committed to delivering the Murray–Darling Basin Plan (Basin Plan) in full.
On 22 February 2023, the Australian Government announced its approach to bridge the gap to achieve the sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) in the Murray-Darling Basin, which were set as part of the Basin Plan.
The announcement of a strategic water purchasing program and framework to bridge the gap is an important step forward in continuing to return water to the environment and delivering upon the Australian Government’s commitment to complete the Basin Plan in full.
The bridging the gap target of 49.2 gigalitres (GL) is comprised of 46 GL of surface water and 3.2 GL of groundwater, will be recovered in seven catchments across the basin that have remaining water to be recovered under the Basin Plan’s SDLs.
To deliver this water recovery, the Australian Government will strategically purchase permanent water entitlements in 6 of these catchments across Queensland and New South Wales through open, competitive, transparent tender arrangements. These catchments include:
- Condamine–Balonne catchment: 14 GL of surface water entitlements and 3.2 GL of groundwater entitlements
- New South Wales
- NSW Murray catchment: 10 GL of surface water entitlements
- Namoi catchment: 9.5 GL of surface water entitlements
- NSW Border Rivers catchment: 5.1 GL of surface water entitlements
- Barwon–Darling catchment: 1.6 GL of surface water entitlements
- Lachlan catchment: 0.9 GL of surface water entitlements.
The Australian Government will also continue to work with the Australian Capital Territory government to identify, plan and deliver cost-effective efficiency projects to bridge the remaining gap of 4.9 GL of surface water in this catchment.
A Strategic Water Purchasing Framework for 49.2GL to Bridge the Gap has also been released which outlines the principles that will guide how the water entitlements will be purchased to achieve the SDLs under the Basin Plan.
Voluntary open tender process
A voluntary tender process will open on 23 March 2023 via AusTender for willing sellers to sell their permanent water entitlements.
The tender is only open to water entitlement holders in the six catchments across the basin that have remaining water to be recovered under the Basin Plan’s SDLs.
To read the framework and find out more about water purchasing in the basin, visit Strategic water purchasing – Bridging the Gap 2023