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Government partnerships

Water management in Australia is complex with agencies from the Basin states and the Australian government having different responsibilities. Much of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s work is in close collaboration with our government partners.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) takes account of policy, monitoring and analysis at a Basin-wide scale, providing a whole of Basin perspective. No other government agency or organisation has this perspective as its primary focus. We also play a key role in facilitating decision-making between states. We have a number of governance arrangements in place to encourage collaboration and cooperation.

State governments

The cooperation of the Basin states remains an integral element of successful water management and reform across the Basin. We work closely with the Basin states through a number of committees, to implement the Basin Plan.

The arrangements to implement the Basin Plan are contained in an Intergovernmental Agreement, signed by all governments. The Intergovernmental Agreement also provides the states with financial support to implement the Basin Plan.

Basin states are working on:

  • developing supply measures for sustainable diversion limits adjustment
  • developing proposals to address constraints (physical features or rules that restrict the flow of water)
  • identifying ways to maximise water savings through infrastructure
  • preparing water resource plans
  • preparing long-term environmental watering plans
  • implementing state water trading rules consistent with the Basin Plan rules.

The Basin states also have major water management roles through their state legislation that sits outside the Basin Plan requirements.

Australian Government

The Australian Government announced a National Plan for Water Security in 2007. Significant investment of more than $13 billion supports these reforms for irrigation modernisation and water recovery.

Government investment

The Australian government is investing in water saving infrastructure in the Basin through the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program (SRWUIP) and the Commonwealth On-Farm Further Irrigation Efficiency Program (COFFIE).

SRWUIP is a national program investing in rural water use, management and efficiency, including improved water knowledge and market reform. It is the key mechanism to 'bridge the gap' to the sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) and consists of 3 main components:

  • irrigation infrastructure projects
  • water purchase
  • supply measures.

COFFIE is a program to assist irrigators to modernise their on-farm irrigation infrastructure and return the resulting water savings to the environment. The program funds infrastructure to make water delivery systems for irrigation even more efficient so that additional water can be recovered for the environment.

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is responsible for policy advice and program implementation, in particular investing in the Commonwealth's water recovery strategy and National Partnership Agreement on Implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

Commonwealth Environmental Water Office

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) manages, plans and monitors a large portfolio of water for the benefit of the environment.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides advice to the Minister for Water on water market rules and water charge rules, which are intended to free up trade and regulate costs of monopoly infrastructure (eg. access to irrigation schemes) and to monitor and enforce these rules.

Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau of Meteorology has responsibility for compiling and making available water information for all of Australia. This includes producing a National Water Account and collecting and publishing water information.

Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission conducts 5-yearly inquiries into the effectiveness of the implementation of the Basin Plan and water resource plans — the first review was due in 2018.

Updated: 22 Jul 2022