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Deciding where and when water should be released into the Basin river system is complex. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority works alongside various groups to understand the environmental needs of specific areas of the river, and monitor the health of the entire Basin. We look at natural weather events, irrigation demands, the health of native vegetation, birds and fish, the availability of water in the system, and more.

Working together

The water-management groups we work with include:

  • site-specific, on-ground river operators
  • environmental water holders
  • traditional owners
  • scientists
  • community and industry groups.

Who’s who managing water for the environment

There are lots of groups involved in managing water for the environment;
here are a few of the bigger ones.


How we prioritise

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority gives advice and guidance to environmental water holders about whether any water should be released, and—if so—where it will produce the best environmental outcome for the plants, animals and iconic landscapes of the Murray–Darling Basin.

Water holders then decide if, where and when water for the environment will be delivered to achieve our strategic short and long term objectives.

Short term and long term plans

We have a strategic view of the long-term benefits of delivering water for the environment. 

The Basin-wide environmental watering strategy guides governments, water holders and environmental managers. It provides strategies to achieve environmental outcomes over the long-term.

The annual environmental watering priorities help plan and manage water for the environment. The priorities are the annual steps needed to achieve the long-term outcomes in the strategy

Each year we release an environmental watering outlook which provides an indication of the watering priorities for the coming year, while taking into considerations longer term goals. 

Environmental strategies and plans

a map of Australia highlighting the Basin

Basin wide

Long term

Our Basin-wide strategy outlines how we can manage the improvement of the Basin ecosystem over a long period of time by coordinating water uses.

a map of Australia highlighting the states of Qld, SA, NSW and Vic


Long term

Each Basin state/territory government either has long-term plans for water use and environmental outcomes, or will have by June 2019.

Explore our areas of focus in more depth

Each year we set priorities to restore health to the environment. The annual priorities are a guide for where water should be delivered for the current year to improve the health of native plants and animals for the overall health of the Basin over the long term, as set out in the Basin watering strategy.