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Published: 22 July 2020   •   Media release

The priority work areas for compliance and enforcement of water rules in the Murray–Darling Basin over the next 12 months show a shift in focus from establishment to assurance, now much of the groundwork of the Basin Plan is in place.

The Basin Plan, which was introduced in 2012, is unlike any other reform of its kind in the world. It sets the amount of water that can be taken from the Basin each year, while leaving enough for our rivers, lakes and wetlands and the plants and animals that depend on them.

Executive Director of Basin Plan Regulation at the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), Tim Goodes said the Office of Compliance's planned 2020/21 work program builds on the progress made by state governments and the MDBA in recent years.

"This water year the Office of Compliance will be focused on ensuring states comply with the Basin Plan and accredited Water Resource Plans, giving communities the assurance that water is being used in accordance with the rules," Mr Goodes said.

"We will also be reviewing state water metering policies and the compliance framework for regulating floodplain harvesting to ensure water take is authorised.

"We'll be checking that state-based rules for protecting water for the environment and first flush flows are being followed, to safeguard the health of our rivers."

Mr Goodes said the Office of Compliance made good progress against last year's priorities which has aided this year's work program.

"In the last water year to June 2020, our compliance team was in the field doing site inspections and meter coverage reviews in Victoria and South Australia, monitoring floodplain harvesting policy implementation in the northern Basin, and providing the public with clear information about water markets and trade," Mr Goodes said.

"We used satellites to monitor the first flush flow in the northern Basin in February this year and provided the NSW regulator with data to help track compliance with embargoes preventing water take. This saw thousands of kilometres of dry riverbed finally receive a flow and the Barwon-Darling river reconnect with the Murray.

"Off the back of our water price audit, the states are driving improvements in trade price transparency."

The 2020-21 Compliance Priorities are available on the MDBA website, as well as a Statement of Performance on the 2019-20 priorities.

About the MDBA Office of Compliance

The MDBA Office of Compliance monitors and enforces compliance with the Basin Plan. The office works with Basin state government water agencies who have front-line responsibility for water planning, river operations and compliance. They set compliance priorities for each water year (July – June) based on a horizon scan and detailed risk assessment of Basin Plan non-compliance for each of the MDBA's key compliance areas, as set out in the Compliance and Enforcement Policy.


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