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Basin-wide compliance and enforcement

The Basin Plan aims to strike a balance between access to water for Basin communities and the provision of water for the environment. This balance will deliver a productive and healthy Murray–Darling Basin. Compliance with the Basin Plan is  critical to achieving this, and ensuring that all Australians trust that water is being used in accordance with the rules.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) monitors and enforces compliance with the Basin Plan.  The MDBA regulates the state water agencies who have the front-line responsibility for water planning, river operations and water compliance.

In undertaking this role, the MDBA has a range of powers and tools available to detect and manage non-compliance, including auditing and investigations (including the use of contemporary technology such as remote sensing). 

The MDBA has compliance responsibilities for seven key areas of water management:

Water Resource Plans

The MDBA's compliance role is to monitor and enforce compliance with accredited Water Resource Plans (WRP). Read more about Water Resource Plans.

Sustainable Diversion Limits

The Basin Plan sets sustainable diversion limits or SDLs, which is how much water can be used in the Murray–Darling Basin. This limit then ensures there is enough water remaining in the environment to keep the river system and groundwater resources healthy. The MDBA ensures compliance with the SDLs. The approach to SDL compliance is set out in the MDBA's SDL Reporting and Compliance Framework.

Compliance and enforcement of illegal take

The MDBA's provides assurance of Basin State compliance and enforcement systems. The MDBA will take action against illegal water take if a Basin State is failing to do so effectively.

Water Measurement and Metering

The MDBA will work to develop and implement methods to improve the accuracy of water measurement and increase transparency of water take across the Basin. This will include the use of remote sensing and emerging technologies to support Basin Plan compliance and water compliance monitoring activities. 

Planning and protection of environmental water

Under the Basin Plan, the MDBA prepares a Basin-wide environmental watering strategy and Basin states prepare long-term water resource plans. The MDBA monitors compliance with the environmental watering plans by assessing the extent to which obligations are fulfilled by state and Commonwealth agencies, including the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO), and by supporting the development and assessment of state WRP plans. Read more about water for the environment.

Water markets and trade

The MDBA enforces compliance with the Basin Plan's water trading rules. Read more about the MDBA's compliance approach to water markets and trade.

Water quality and salinity

The Basin Plan sets water quality and salinity objectives and targets. Basin States, river operators, the Basin Officials Committee and environmental water holders must have regard for such targets when making water management decisions. The MDBA provides assurance that the Basin states and the CEWO consider water quality and salinity when managing flows and using environmental water. The MDBA must also monitor, assess and report on salinity levels in the River Murray.  Read more about water quality and salinity.

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