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Published: 26 June 2018   •   Media release

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) today renewed its commitment to strong compliance and enforcement of water rules under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, with the release of its Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-21.

Executive Director of the MDBA Office of Compliance, Russell James, said transparency and accountability were the cornerstones of the policy, which clearly sets out how the MDBA meets its responsibilities.

"People and businesses in all Basin communities depend upon the knowledge that everyone is complying with the rules around water use,"; Mr James said.

"The MDBA is taking a rigorous approach to our job of ensuring compliance with the Basin Plan.

"We will work with the state governments to identify and promote good practice in water management, we will conduct audits on different aspects of Basin Plan implementation, we will investigate cases of non-compliance as necessary, and we will report on the performance of different parties in meeting their Basin Plan obligations.

"Our compliance activities will be guided by six important principles to ensure our work is transparent and accountable, risk based, proportionate, fair and equitable, collaborative, engaged and informed, and efficient and effective.

"Each principle is critically important to maintaining the trust of water users in the Basin, whether they are a dairy farmer in the Lower Murray, an agency doing environmental watering in the Gwydir or a manufacturer on the Goulburn River.

"The MDBA will regularly assess the risk of non-compliance with the rules of water use, and concentrate our efforts on areas of highest risk and those that are the most likely to jeopardise the achievement of Basin Plan outcomes.";

Mr James said the MDBA would listen to communities, encourage open access and sharing of information and work cooperatively with Basin governments.

"Everyone needs to understand and know how to comply with their obligations as the first step towards compliance. In turn, we will publicly report on the MDBA's compliance activities and decisions to ensure full transparency around our responsibilities.

"We will investigate allegations of non-compliance in a timely manner and use the best available information, taken from sources such as satellite technology, other regulators and input from communities and industry.";

The MDBA's responsibilities include ensuring that environmental water is protected, that the methods for measuring water use, such as metering, are fit for purpose, and that Water Resource Plans prepared by Basin state governments are complied with, including the limits on water extraction from Basin rivers.

Mr James said the MDBA may also investigate allegations of non-compliance by an individual if it considered that a state government was not taking appropriate action.

"And as water trade becomes an increasingly important part of doing business in the Basin, our role in enforcing the Basin Plan water trading rules is of critical importance. That means keeping a watch on restrictions to trade, proper disclosure of water announcements and accurate reporting of water trade prices,"; Mr James said.

The MDBA's Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018–21 reflects the organisation's commitments under the Compliance Compact that was agreed by Basin water ministers in June 2018.

The MDBA's strong compliance and enforcement of the Basin Plan is essential to its success, and will further build confidence in the future of a healthy working Basin for all communities, industries and the environment.

The Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018–21 can be found on the MDBA website.


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