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Basin Plan amendments for groundwater and minor practical changes

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) recommended amendments to the Basin Plan. The amendments became law in July 2018. The amendments related to the northern Basin, groundwater and some minor practical changes.

Amendments for groundwater

At the time the Basin Plan was established, it was identified that there was a need to review the sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) of 3 groundwater areas.

Key amendments

  • Groundwater SDL increased from 3,334 gigalitre per year (GL/y) to 3,494 GL/y
  • Eastern Porous Rock – an extra 14.9 GL/y
  • Western Porous Rock – an extra 109.4 GL/y
  • Goulburn–Murray – an extra 37.7 GL/y

The amendments to the SDLs for groundwater are in these 3 areas:

  • Eastern Porous Rock (New South Wales)
  • Western Porous Rock (New South Wales)
  • Goulburn–Murray (Victoria)

The changes from the 3 reviews and some other minor changes in South Australia will see the SDL for the extraction of the Basin’s groundwater increase from 3,334 GL/y to 3,494 GL/y.

The increases in extraction limits have minimal potential impacts on the environment.

Key information

Groundwater snapshot

An overview of the key facts and amendments for groundwater

View the snapshot

Supporting documents

Background information and research

Minor practical changes

In consultation with Basin state governments, we identified a range of minor improvements to enable a practical and consistent implementation of the Basin Plan. In addition, changes to the Water Act 2007 (Cwth) made in mid-2016 required some minor amendments to the Basin Plan to ensure consistency in the legislation.

Key amendments

  • Boundary changes making areas of catchments more consistent.
  • Minor changes to assist basin states with water recovery and trade.
  • Minor changes to the Basin Plan following changes to the Water Act 2007.

The changes also included:

  • boundary changes to align better with state boundaries
  • giving Basin states extra time to specify the allocation of their shared water recovery targets
  • changes to the Australian Capital Territory's baseline diversion limit to reflect The Living Murray water recovery and a better understanding of diversions at the time
  • changes to compliance on sustainable diversion limits in certain circumstances
  • minor changes to water trading rules to provide more clarity
  • minor changes to the Basin Plan following changes to the Water Act 2007.

In response to suggestions from the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council (16 June 2017), the MDBA incorporated 2 further technical amendments:

  • Additional provisions to separate requirements for groundwater water quality management plans from those for surface water.
  • Separation of steps for determining compliance with the long-term sustainable diversion limit as part of the reasonable excuse provisions.


Further information can be found in this summary.

Key information

Minor and practical changes snapshot

View the snapshot

Supporting documents

Background information and research

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) advice

Legal documents

These documents apply for all changes to the Basin Plan.

Updated: 18 Oct 2021