Healthy rivers, strong communities and sustainable food and fibre production in the Murray-Darling Basin can only be achieved through water reform.
We are responsible for the water programs and projects that supports this reform. This includes investments in water-saving infrastructure, easing environmental flow delivery constraints, options for works and measures, and water purchases to achieve more efficient outcomes for the environment.
The Basin Plan provides an integrated and strategic framework for water reform, consistent with the requirements of the Water Act 2007. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is an independent expertise-based statutory agency responsible for Basin-wide water resource planning and management.
In July 2023 the MDBA advised that full implementation of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan would not be possible by 30 June 2024.
In August 2023 the Australian, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory governments agreed to support amendments to the Water Act 2007 and the Basin Plan 2012 in order to deliver the Basin Plan in full.
Supporting reform in the Basin
The Basin Plan requires recovery of 2750 GL, however there is flexibility built into the plan to change the recovery target.
The Australian Government is investing in the Murray-Darling Basin to:
- improve efficiency of irrigation networks and on-farm infrastructure
- recover water for the environment
- explore additional environmental works and measures.
Implementing the Basin Plan: water resource plans
The development of water resource plans for each water resource plan area is a key part of implementing the Basin Plan. Basin states are currently working hard to progress these plans, but not all plans were accredited by 30 June 2019 as originally intended. This is due to a range of factors, such as consultation timeframes and the complexity of work required for each plan. Consistent with regulations made for the purposes of paragraphs 63(9)(a) and (b) of the Water Act 2007 the Minister previously agreed to grant an extension for the following proposed plans to be given to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) by 31 April 2019:
- Australian Capital Territory – Australian Capital Territory surface water and groundwater
- Victoria – Northern Victoria, Victorian Murray, Goulburn-Murray.
The Minister has also agreed to extensions for the following proposed plans to be given to the MDBA by 30 June 2020. The majority of these plans are currently being assessed by MDBA:
- New South Wales (NSW) – Intersecting Streams, NSW Border Rivers Alluvium, NSW Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi, Macquarie-Castlereagh, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee, NSW Murray and Lower Darling, NSW Murray-Darling Basin Porous Rock, Darling Alluvium, Murray Alluvium, Murrumbidgee Alluvium, Lachlan Alluvium, NSW Murray-Darling Basin Fractured Rock, Macquarie-Castlereagh Alluvium, NSW Great Artesian Basin Shallow, Namoi Alluvium, Gwydir Alluvium, Barwon-Darling Watercourse.
Further details on water resource plans, including which plans have been accredited or proposed by Basin states for accreditation, may be found at Water resource plans.
Northern Basin Programs Taskforce
The Northern Basin Programs Taskforce was established in the Department to look at how best to achieve the remaining water recovery for the Northern Basin under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Drawing from key industry and community stakeholders input, the taskforce provided findings to the Minister on how to bridge the gap in ways that avoid further water purchase and deliver socio-economic benefits to communities, such as better irrigation infrastructure.
To inform its advice, the taskforce sought input and feedback from the community, environmental and industry groups and governments. This included feedback on Commonwealth water infrastructure programmes - Queensland Healthy Headwaters Water Use Efficiency project and Irrigated Farm Modernisation Programme in New South Wales - and recommendations from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Northern Basin Review.
A key recommendation from the Northern Basin Review is that the water recovery target in the northern Basin be reduced from 390 gigalitres to 320 gigalitres. This reduction is recommended provided the Australian, Queensland and New South Wales governments agree to implement a number of so-called ‘toolkit measures’ to improve water management. It also recommends further support for communities and for measures to address the concerns of Aboriginal people in the northern Basin.
The taskforce has presented its findings and recommendations to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. The final report is available for download below.
|Taskforce Terms of Reference DOCX||2||118 KB|
|Northern Basin Programs Taskforce report Northern Basin Review PDF||44||1.45 MB|
|Northern Basin Programs Taskforce report Northern Basin Review DOCX||44||1.08 MB|
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