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Published: 21 June 2019   •   Media statements

The Victorian Farmers Federation's call for the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to join state governments in placing a moratorium on new irrigation developments in the Mallee demonstrates a misunderstanding of the MDBA's role and responsibilities.

The MDBA manages the River Murray system on behalf of the Commonwealth and state governments. Our role is to meet the orders for water that are placed by state governments, as stipulated in the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement.

The MDBA cannot and does not make decisions about how water is used, by whom or in which district.

However, we are working to identify risks to the delivery of water for the states, including the potential of a shortfall for irrigators.

Earlier this year we published a water delivery shortfall assessment for the Murray system highlighting the factors that increase the risk of a shortfall and the strategies used to date to successfully avoid that risk, include limiting large orders and using available state-based infrastructure.

The MDBA continues to work with Basin governments and state agencies to prepare to manage any delivery shortfall event that may occur in the future.

Should state governments deem that steps were necessary to limit either water use, water trade or horticultural development, state agencies would be responsible for declaring those restrictions and the MDBA would continue to deliver water in accordance with the rules.

We encourage water holders along the River Murray, especially downstream of the Barmah Choke, to be aware of the risk of water delivery shortfall and take it into account in their business planning and investment decisions.

The MDBA is committed to using best available information and to conduct our work transparently. We are working actively to improve information flow and remain committed to strengthening our management of the river system on behalf of state governments and communities.

ENDS

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