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Published: 18 December 2018   •   Media release

The MDBA has published the latest quarterly report on water resource plan (WRP) progress, highlighting significant challenges in ensuring all WRPs are in place and meet the exacting requirements of the Basin Plan by the 1 July 2019 deadline.

MDBA Executive Director Partnerships, Carl Binning, said significant progress was now being made by all governments to prepare water resource plans that meet the requirements for water management set out in the Basin Plan.

“Water resource plans formalise arrangements including setting limits on the amount of water that can be used.  For this reason it is critical that we take the time to make sure the plans are robust and communities have had time to provide input,” Mr Binning said.

“The NSW government has sought additional time to complete and submit WRPs but, importantly, the possible delay in finalising some WRPs will not affect the Basin Plan’s key outcomes—including the enforcement of new limits on water take and committing to measures for the protection of environmental water by 1 July 2019.

“It is critical that all stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on the development of the plans.  The introduction of a mechanism to manage necessary time extensions—announced by the Commonwealth and Basin water ministers last week—means the community can have confidence the plans will be robust, high quality and adequately reflect the local realities of water management.

“The Basin Plan is one of the most significant water reforms ever undertaken in Australia or the world.  It is of utmost importance that any delays for WRPs do not affect the on-time delivery of the key aspects of this reform—particularly the enforcement of new limits on water take.  I am pleased that all Basin governments have acknowledged that these Basin Plan milestones must and will still come into effect from 1 July 2019.

“All Basin states remain committed to delivering the Basin Plan in full, and are continuing to work hard to develop and consult on quality water resource plans.  The MDBA has also increased resourcing to ensure that it can assess water resource plans thoroughly and efficiently once they are submitted by Basin states for accreditation under the Basin Plan.

“The MDBA will continue to report regularly on the progress of Water Resource Plan development and accreditation, and we are further increasing transparency by publishing all water resource plans we receive for assessment.”

The MDBA is an independent, expert authority, and will continue to work with Basin state governments to ensure that the Basin Plan is implemented in full, to secure the future health of the Murray–Darling river system and the communities that depend on it.

Water Resource Plans are prepared and consulted on by Basin state governments, before being assessed by the MDBA against Basin Plan requirements.  The MDBA then makes a recommendation for the accreditation of water resource plans to the Commonwealth water minister.  Water Resource Plan documentation and quarterly progress reports are available on the MDBA website at mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/water-resource-plans.

In line with the Water Act 2007, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, has made a regulation allowing for additional time to be granted for Water Resource Plans if needed—until 31 December 2019.  States will need to demonstrate that new limits on water take will be enforced from 1 July 2019, and commit to measures for the protection of environmental water by that date.  More information is available at mdba.gov.au/media/mr/murray-darling-basin-ministers-meet-melbourne.

End

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