Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Area Of Operations

Monday 17 June update

On Thursday 6 June, Victoria became the first Basin State to sign the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for the implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

In doing so, the Victorian Minister, Peter Walsh said the IGA addressed all of the State's key concerns.

"The IGA and the funding agreement were the next important steps for an agreed approach to securing the health of the Murray-Darling Basin in a way which also ensures a future for Basin communities," Minister Walsh said.

The IGA and funding agreement provide Victoria with $14.3million to develop projects to offset the volume of water required to be recovered under the Basin Plan; $47.4 million to assist with implementing the Plan and a commitment to further consultation on the delivery of the $100 million Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program.

Shortly after Victoria, the ACT also signed the IGA.

The NSW Government is refusing to sign-up to the IGA because it says the implementation plan does not address its key concerns including groundwater, a limit on buyback and fair funding. 

NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said there are concerns about how the Plan will impact on regional communities.

Minister Hodgkinson is maintaining the position that NSW has held since the Basin Plan was signed into law and says that nothing in the IGA has changed to allow her to sign on. Her position has won the support of NSW Irrigators' Council.

South Australia have not yet signed onto the IGA despite claiming it is "just days away" from doing so and conservationists and South Australian Irrigators alike calling on them to do so.

The IGA does not identify the methodology for the SDL adjustment mechanism or explain how offsets to reduce water recovery will be calculated.  It identifies use of return flows and water shepherding as issues, but does not offer any explanation of how they will be calculated.

It does however state that environmental water must be delivered within capacity constraints, but also requires participating states to work with the Commonwealth to identify constraints and management mechanisms and reconfirms the Federal commitment of $200 million to address capacity constraints.

Victorian Ministerial media release here:

Minister Hodgkinson article here:

The Land:


Basin Plan law - Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is now secure in its legal standing with disallowance motions in both the House of Representatives and the Senate failing in the last sitting week of Parliament for 2012.

In developing the Basin Plan, the Commonwealth Government and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority have consistently failed to justify the need for the high volume of water recovery proposed; however, the Plan has come a long way from its origins where it was assumed all water recovery would be by compulsory acquisition or changes to allocation or reliability.

The Basin Plan outlined earlier today by the Minister calls for a water recovery target of 2,750GL.  This includes the 971GL southern zone shared recovery target that has been apportioned between the states as agreed by the Basin Ministers.  For the NSW Murray, the local recovery target is 262GL (of which 225GL has been recovered and the rest is under contract) and a portion (estimated to be 192GL) of the NSW shared recovery target of 458GL.

The Basin Plan includes a sustainable diversion limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism that allows the 2,750GL recovery target to be adjusted upwards (through new efficiency programs and constraints removal) or downwards (through offsets from non-entitlement initiatives, such as environmental works and measures).

The adjustment mechanism also includes a requirement for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to conduct public consultation before finalising the proposed adjustment amounts.

The water recovery is anticipated as being:

  • 2,100GL - Current recovery programs including PIIOP, OFIEP, State priority projects and buy back
  •     650GL - Equivalent recovery through works and measures and better use of water (non-entitlement)
  •     450GL - New efficiency programs, primarily on-farm, to be rolled out from 2017-2024 after
                      constraints removal.

The Minister said he hopes to minimise buyback but that it remains an option if the States fail to put forward the full 650GL worth of water savings projects.

It is important to remember that water entitlement will not change unless an individual entitlement holder chooses to participate in a recovery program.

It is now time to shift our focus onto the Plan's implementation. The development of the constraints management
strategy and the environmental watering plan are just two areas that can have a significant impact on our region if they don't get it right.

There is no doubt the implementation of the Basin Plan will present significant challenges for Murray Irrigation and its customers and these risks must be managed and opportunities taken when they arise. 

The Basin Plan is a Commonwealth Plan.  The NSW Government has some significant unresolved issues about the Plan which it is seeking to have addressed through the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Commonwealth and the States.  One of these issues is the Commonwealth Government's direct purchase of entitlements.  The NSW Government this week announced it will legislate to limit Commonwealth water purchases to three percent of entitlements every 10 years effective from 15 January 2013 if a cap is not included in the IGA.  


Thursday 22 November update

The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, today signed the final Murray-Darling Basin Plan into law.

Click below links to read the various Press Releases



Murray Group of Concerned Communities (MGCC)

Click the link below to view all of the Basin Plan documents

Associated amendments

The Water Amendment (Long Term Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Bill 2012 passed the Parliament prior to the signing of the Basin Plan into law.  This amendment enables the application of the adjustment mechanism.

The Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012 appropriates funds for a further $1.77 billion through to 2024 for further water recovery of 450GL and addressing constraints.  This Bill has passed the House of Representatives and is due to be voted on by the Senate in early 2013.


To view the submissions made by Murray Irrigation, please click on the link below.

Murray Irrigation Submissions

To view Murray Irrigation's response to the Ministerial Council, click here.

For more information please visit the below websites:

Murray-Darling Basin Plan NSW Irrigators' Council
Murray-Darling Basin Authority Murray Group of Concerned Communities
National Irrigators' Council ABC News