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Published: 05 March 2019   •   Opinion pieces

If we'd ever been in doubt, this summer of record-breaking heat and low inflows has provided us with plenty of evidence of the very finite nature of water in the Murray–Darling Basin.

That's why staying the course to implement the Basin Plan in full is more important than ever, to fairly share the scarce and precious water resources across communities, the environment and industries so no one sector bears the brunt.

It's been heartening that so many people, who live and work in the Basin as well as in the cities, have been willing in recent times to be part of the conversation about the way forward to see each step of the Plan come into effect, as intended.

In particular the spotlight has fallen on whether the Plan has the balance right for irrigation communities or for environmental needs. We've seen it questioned in statements to the South Australian Royal Commission, in the response to the fish kill tragedy in the Lower Darling, and in response to the zero water allocations for farmers and the environment alike in the north and south of New South Wales.

The Basin Plan continues to be contested, but we will achieve the balance as long as people voice their experience and solutions where they can.

The Plan sets out the agreed bipartisan path ahead, and we're doing our best to ensure the latest information is publically available on all these matters, to help you reach your own conclusions.

So far this year, that includes our full response to the South Australian Royal Commission, our latest thinking on climate change, work to address recent and future fish deaths, the outlook for environmental water as the dry times continue, and progress by the state governments to achieve the 605-gigalitre adjustment to water extraction limits. For those relying on water in the Murray River, the capacity assessment for 2018-19 is also an important piece of work that tackles the delivery of water in the southern system.

I encourage you to check out all the research and reporting on this work, and much more, which is available on our website at www.mdba.gov.au and you can get in touch through engagement@mdba.gov.au.

Ahead of us, there's a tremendous amount to do and the door is open for your involvement. The MDBA and Basin governments are preparing for 30 June 2019 to flick the switch to new rules and new limits of water extraction in the Basin. Your state government will have sought or be in the process of seeking your feedback for each water resource area.

This year will continue to present plenty of challenges as we work to set up the system for the future health of the Basin. The Basin Plan cannot prevent drought and it cannot prevent climate change, but reaching the right balance in water use will help the environment to get through future dry times like these and provide certainty to communities.

 ENDS

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