Monitoring and evaluation
What effect is the Basin Plan having?
The aim of the Basin Plan is to make sure that water is shared between all users in a sustainable way. A healthy river system supports communities and industries, as well as the plants and animals which depend on it.
Each year we report on how the Basin Plan is tracking in terms of:
- productive and resilient communities
- healthy and resilient rivers, wetlands and floodplains
- working together.
This year, five years after the Basin Plan was legislated, we are checking that the plan is on track against where we thought we would be, and to see if anything else needs to be done.
The next full review of the Basin Plan is not due until 2026 to allow time for the current plan to be fully implemented. Other parts of the Basin Plan, such as the Basin-wide environmental watering strategy, will be reviewed more frequently.
Measuring change for communities and industries
When assessing the impact of the Basin Plan we take into account the wellbeing of people living and working in the Basin. We also look at how populations, employment opportunities and agricultural production are changing, and what is driving the change.
This is complex work and we have published our approach to understanding the effects of water reform on Basin communities and industries. Studies we have commissioned look at:
- how people in irrigated agriculture are adapting to reduced water for consumptive uses in the northern Basin
- the cultural, environmental and economic uses of water by Aboriginal people
- how different levels of water recovery will affect the health of rivers.
Measuring environmental change
The Basin Plan is aiming to:
- restore and improve the resilience of rivers, wetlands and floodplains
- connect rivers to their floodplains and the sea
- improve the health of fish, birds and vegetation populations
- keep water fit for environmental uses.
The Basin Plan evaluation framework provides more information on our evaluation methods and the indicators that we are using to measure progress.
We work with communities, researchers, peak industry bodies and other government agencies to monitor change. We also use social and economic surveys and research by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences, as well as regional wellbeing studies carried out by the University of Canberra.
We have joined forces with the Basin states and other Australian Government agencies to help meet their environmental reporting obligations under the Basin Plan. The monitoring projects carried out jointly are those which are more efficiently done collectively, and include studies on hydrology, inundation, vegetation, waterbirds and fish.
Basin governments report to us on how they are implementing the Basin Plan. We work closely with staff from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, and state government agencies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and South Australia.
Past environmental monitoring programs
Our environmental monitoring builds on past programs managed by the joint Basin governments, including the Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA) 1 and Sustainable Rivers Audit (SRA) 2, the Native Fish Strategy (2003–13) and The Living Murray monitoring reports.