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The governance arrangements covering the water resources of the Basin have been developed to meet changing economic, environmental and societal needs of the Basin communities.

The MDBA reports to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for water. The MDBA's governance comprises the:

  • Commonwealth Minister responsible for water 
  • six member Murray–Darling Basin Authority
  • Ministerial Council
  • Basin Officials Committee
  • Basin Community Committee.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority is made up of the six member Authority, including the Chief Executive, and Authority staff located in Canberra, Adelaide, Albury-Wodonga, Toowoomba and other regions in thbe Basin.

The Murray–Darling Basin is managed through a partnership between the Australian Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (the Basin states).

Who does what in managing Basin water resources 

There are a number of key government agencies and advisory committees involved in implementing the Basin Plan. 

These agencies and committees assist with:

  • environmental watering
  • recovering water
  • compliance
  • the sustainable diversion limit adjustment process
  • water resource plans
  • water markets and trading rules
  • River Murray operations and joint programs. 

Roles and responsibilities

Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment

Basin states
propose and deliver projects

program monitoring and assessment

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
project funding and implementation

Recovering water

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
strategic purchases and efficiency programs

Basin states
implementation of some efficiency programs

Water Resource Plans

Basin states
development and implementation

assessment and accreditation


Basin states
implementation and enforcement

monitoring and Basin-scale compliance

Water for the environment

Basin-scale planning, coordination and prioritisation

Basin states
local-level planning and implementation

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH)
planning and implementation across the Basin

Monitoring and evaluation

Basin Plan evaluation and monitoring

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
water recovery program monitoring

Basin states
reporting requirements

monitoring results of environmental watering

River Murray operations

operations and management

Basin states
day-to-day management of dams, locks, weirs and barrages

Water Markets and trade

information and compliance

Basin states
implement the rules

advice on rules and complaints

Governance of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority

The current governance arrangements are set out in the Water Act 2007 which establishes a Commonwealth-State cooperative arrangement for the management of Basin water resources operating under Commonwealth law. The governance arrangements are summarised in the diagram below.