The Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group was established in 2019 to coordinate the planning and delivery of water for the environment in the northern Murray-Darling Basin to enhance connectivity and improve environmental outcomes.
- Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (Chair)
- Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
- Murray–Darling Basin Authority
- New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment
- Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water
- Northern Basin First Nations Peoples – advisory role
- South Australian Department for Environment and Water
- Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
Roles and responsibilities
The Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group provides advice and guidance on the planning and delivery of coordinated inter-valley and cross-border water for the environment across the northern Basin, including:
- water allocations held by environmental water holders
- planned environmental water managed under relevant state water plans
- other water allocations that may be voluntarily used for environmental benefit from time to time.
- providing a forum to discuss opportunities to enhance connectivity by co-ordinating water for the environment with natural flows and other water deliveries
- supporting event-based delivery of water for the environment which includes options such as paying grants to water holders to forgo pumping grants paid to water allocation holders to forgo pumping rights.
- improving consistency of communication and reporting about the benefits of water for the environment
- strategies to support community engagement, including with First Nations, irrigators and other stakeholders
- an annual planning meeting for environmental water holders and river operators
- ensuring First Nations’ values are consistently considered in water for the environment planning
- providing a link to the Environmental Water Committee for the north, including seeking their advice on water for the environment policy issues.
Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group’s role is limited to inter-valley and cross-border water for the environmental coordination. It does not have a role in catchment-scale operational matters and decisions which are a state responsibility.
The Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group respects the independence of each member jurisdiction and environmental water holders. The Northern Basin Environmental Watering Group seeks to make decisions by consensus. Where consensus can’t be reached, issues can be elevated to the Environmental Water Committee for resolution, but in all cases, ultimate decision-making on the use of water is retained by the relevant environmental water holder or agency.