The Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Act 2023 commenced on 7 December 2023 providing more options, more time, more funding, and more accountability to deliver the Basin Plan in full.
Healthy and sustainable river systems are important for Murray-Darling Basin communities, industry and First Nations. They sustain businesses, recreation, cultural use and provide critical drinking water.
We have committed more than $50 million to a range of extra measures to improve the health of the Upper Murrumbidgee.
River health and monitoring program
We have committed $20.3 million, including:
- $15 million over 3 years from 2024-25 to improve river health and resilience. Projects will address the decline in river health, water quality and improve habitat for endangered species.
- $5 million over 5 years from 2024-25 for science and monitoring projects. This will improve knowledge of water quality, riparian health and the status of native species in the region.
We will deliver the program through a Federation Funding Agreement in partnership with the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales.
Review of the Snowy Water Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed
We will provide $5.3 million over 5 years to support a review of the Snowy Water Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed (the deed). This includes:
- $0.5 million to support First Nations participation in the review from 2023-24 through to 2025-26.
- $2.5 million for technical advice to support the review from 2024-25 though to 2026-27.
- $2.3 million to run the review.
The deed is a 2002 agreement between the Australian Government, New South Wales and Victoria. Subject to the agreement of the New South Wales and Victorian partner governments, this would be the first review of the deed since it was originally signed.
Contingency funding for additional flows
We have committed to setting aside $30 million to support additional water releases. This funding can be drawn on in drought-like conditions to address low-flows in the Upper Murrumbidgee.
We will consider downstream water needs and the National Electricity Market, when deciding to release water.
The Basin Plan applies to all Basin waters, including the Upper Murrumbidgee River, except for where it is inconsistent with the New South Wales Snowy Water Licence. We will prepare an annual report on the release of water for environmental use from the Snowy Scheme. We will include water flows and temperatures for the upper Murrumbidgee (see further section 85ABA of the Water Act 2007).
We must provide the report by 30 October after the end of each water year. The Minister for the Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP will table a copy of the report in Parliament within 15 sitting days of receiving the report.
Statement of Expectations for Snowy Hydro Limited (SHL)
This means Snowy Hydro can operate efficiently while supporting policy objectives such as:
- safety and security in the national electricity market
- a return for its shareholders.
Shareholder Ministers provide guidance through a document called a Statement of Expectations. The guidance in the Statement of Expectations informs Snowy Hydro’s strategic decisions.
The SHL Shareholder Ministers have agreed to update the Statement of Expectations.