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Published: 23 March 2020   •   Media release

The considerable effort in recent months by Basin state governments to complete and put in place their water resource plans is reflected in the MDBA's latest quarterly progress report.

MDBA A/g Executive Director of Water Resource Planning and Accounting Dr Peta Derham said the March 2020 report also showed that the submission of water resource plans for catchments in New South Wales continued to lag behind.

"Water resource plans represent the on-ground delivery of the Basin Plan. They set new and transparent rules on how much water can be taken from the river system and groundwater reserves, and ensure water use limits in each area are not exceeded over time," Dr Derham said.

"They give everyone confidence that water users are doing the right thing."

"This month the MDBA recommended to the Minister for Water Resources, Keith Pitt the final three Victorian plans for accreditation. Together with those already in place for the Wimmera–Mallee, these three plans will complete the package for Victoria, which will then join Queensland and South Australia in being fully compliant with the Basin Plan."

There are 33 water resource plan areas in total: 19 for surface water, 19 for groundwater and five that cover both. Eight have been completed, three are with the Minister for consideration, the two Australian Capital Territory plans are being assessed by the MDBA and the 20 New South Wales plans are yet to be delivered for MDBA assessment. 

Dr Derham said it was encouraging to see the New South Wales Government restart stakeholder consultations to ensure their local water resource plans were fit for purpose and reflected the unique character of each catchment.

"We look forward to receiving advice from New South Wales about their intention to submit water resource plans for our assessment in the coming weeks.

"Agreements have been in place to support the use of the Basin Plan's sustainable diversion limits since 1 July 2019, but it's important that the rules are formalised in the water resource plans and fully transparent for everyone to see.

"Plans for northern New South Wales are expected to include commitments to effectively protect water for downstream communities and the environment during periods of low flow, consistent with the strong action taken by the state government to use embargoes that protected this year's first flows."

The MDBA's process to assess each water resource plan against the requirements of the Basin Plan is published along with the completed plans on the MDBA website at mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/water-resource-plans.

The Quarterly Report is available at: https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/mdba-reports/water-resource-plan-quarterly-reports

ENDS

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