Murray–Darling Basin Plan implementation: initial report
This is the Commission’s first report on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan implementation as required under the Water Act.
Although this report is not an audit (given its delivery so soon after the plan’s commencement), it highlights the issues that the Commission will pay particular attention to in our first Basin Plan audit report in 2015.
These priorities are outlined in Chapter 2 of this report and are summarised below.
- The intergovernmental agreement on implementing water reform in the Murray–Darling Basin must be finalised, giving water planners and managers the mandate they need to devote resources to implementation tasks.
- A whole-of-basin implementation strategy must be in place, together with attendant agreements between the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and basin states, as these are critical in setting out the cooperative and collaborative arrangements for implementing the Basin Plan.
- A constraints management strategy should be in place by the end of 2013, with implementation actions well underway to overcome current limitations on the use of water recovered for the environment.
- Environmental water management processes should have evolved, with annual basin state priorities developed that take account of the basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy.
- All parties should have commenced monitoring, evaluation and reporting activity that is needed to support Basin Plan requirements
- Significant progress should have been achieved towards identifying and assessing adjustment proposals. Scheduled groundwater reviews should also be completed in readiness for consideration of sustainable diversion limits (SDL) adjustments in 2016.
- The northern Basin work program should be substantially completed, with community interests considered appropriately in its design and implementation, and joint working arrangements in place between the MDBA, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, New South Wales and Queensland.