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Water Planning

Since 1914 when a River Murray Agreement was signed by the then Prime Minister Joseph Cook, and Premiers from NSW, Victoria and South Australia the Murray River system has been the subject of plans for its water.

Wonga Wetlands near Murray River, Albury 2011
Wonga Wetlands near Murray River, Albury 2011.
Photo by Brayden Dykes

That agreement:

  • Set out the shares of water available to each of the states
  • Authorised the funding and construction of works
  • Established and empowered a commission to administer the provisions of the Agreement

Today it is the Murray–Darling Basin Authority making plans in support of the Murray–Darling Basin’s future.

The Authority is the body responsible for developing and overseeing a planning framework for the management of the Basin’s water resources in the national interest. This responsibility includes to:

  • Promote the use and management of the Basin resources in a way that optimises economic, social and environmental outcomes
  • Protect, restore and provide for the ecological values and ecosystem health of the Basin
  • Ensure the return to environmentally sustainable levels of extraction of water resources.

This applies to surface water and groundwater and determining the sustainable level of water that can be taken from the system.

We are also charged with looking at how we can change the way we manage the Basin’s rivers and potentially remove key constraints–which could allow for better environmental outcomes. The MDBA must complete a study on constraints as part of the Basin Plan; this is called the Constraints Management Strategy.

Also under the Basin Plan, Water Resource Plans have a fundamental role in ensuring the limits on the quantities of surface and groundwater that can be taken from the Basin will operate from 2019 and beyond.

Further, the Water Quality and Salinity Management Plan provides a framework for action to protect and enhance water quality for environmental, social, economic and cultural uses.

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