Responding to the impacts of climate change

Climate change is impacting the Murray–Darling Basin.

The Basin's climate is likely to be drier and more variable. That means more extreme droughts, more extreme floods and other events like bushfires.

These shifts will have significant impacts for the Basin's ecosystems and communities. It will affect both demand and supply of water for everyone. Responding to climate change in the Basin is a responsibility of all water users.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) plays a role in responding to the impacts of climate change. We're increasing our knowledge of how our rivers, wetlands and aquatic plants and animals respond during extreme events and adapting our approach to better help ecosystems adapt and survive a changing climate.

Managing water in dry and wet conditions

Our role is to achieve the best environmental outcomes with the available water.

In drier times, we can use water to mitigate impacts, avoid damage and protect habitats, so they bounce back quicker when wet conditions return.

In wet times, we use water to build the resilience of river and wetland health so they can survive in the next drought.

Managing water during dry and wet conditions helps mitigate the impact of climate change on the health of the Basin.

Improving our capacity to respond to climate change

We're working with other government agencies to improve our capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change.

Building knowledge

We're building knowledge around the changing climate and environmental needs of the Basin. We're adopting innovations that enable management that supports healthy and resilient rivers.

We invest in independent scientific research to better understand how plants and animals respond to environmental flows. This helps us plan our deliveries to best support them.

Preparing for extreme events

We're preparing for extreme events by developing response plans. This means we're ready to deliver water for the environment in ways that can mitigate impacts and avoid damage.

Finding better ways to manage water

We're working to better understand our water portfolio now, and in the future, so we can manage it effectively.

We're working with others to find smarter ways to share the Basin’s limited water resources.

Building partnerships

Partnerships are a key element of planning and delivering water for the environment. We're continuing to build these partnerships, including with:

  • state and federal government agencies
  • local communities
  • scientists
  • irrigation groups
  • First Nations people
  • local natural resource managers.

First Nations and local knowledge ensures we're delivering water in the best way. Combining this knowledge with scientific monitoring and research helps us build resilience and protect Basin ecosystems for the future.

Managing the Basin’s precious water resources is already a balancing act. Local knowledge is key to prioritising what we water each year, river by river, wetland by wetland.