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Published: 23 December 2019   •   Media release

Good progress has been made this year to strengthen water use compliance in the Murray–Darling Basin, but there's hard work ahead to ensure Basin governments meet their commitments, according to the 2019 Compliance Compact assurance report released today by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.

The Compliance Compact was initiated in 2018 to improve consistency, transparency and accountability in managing and regulating the Basin's water resources. The MDBA is an active and independent regulator and oversees Basin states' progress with compliance activities like monitoring and metering water taken from the rivers and groundwater resources.

The Chief Executive of the MDBA, Phillip Glyde, said it was important to maintain the momentum to build community confidence in compliance measures spelled out in the Compliance Compact.

"In times of drought, the Australian community's trust in how governments manage and regulate the Murray–Darling Basin's finite water resources is more important than ever," Mr Glyde said.

"In the past 12 months governments across the Basin have improved their policies and their practices on the ground. This is to be applauded, and I would recommend they continue to prioritise the completion of their commitments in 2020 to achieve the transparency and accountability the community expects."

"It is important, for example, that all signatories continue on the path to completing and implementing their new metering policies to ensure that compliant meters are installed by 2025.

"I fully understand that the diversion of resources needed to address the worsening drought has affected the delivery of some state government programs.

"Nonetheless, we have found that 100 percent of commitments by Victoria and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture have been completed or are progressing adequately against agreed timelines, 96 percent by New South Wales, 90 percent by Queensland, 89 percent by South Australia and 50 percent by the ACT where most concerns related to the transparency and clarity of the metering requirements.

"To ensure the MDBA doesn't mark its own homework, the Independent Assurance Committee (IAC) was established in 2018 to provide independent, expert advice on the MDBA's compliance obligations."

The IAC found four of the MDBA's 31 actions were not complete. These include publishing and maintaining a register of Basin state measures to better protect environmental water, developing a system for real time advice on environmental watering, an annual quality assurance report on hydrometric data for the River Murray system, and practice notes on the measurement of floodplain harvesting.

"Work on these actions is underway but requires greater effort to progress and will be given greater priority in 2020."

Mr Glyde said the Compliance Compact was due to be reviewed in mid-2020, which would be an important opportunity to assess the critical gaps still needing to be filled.

The Murray–Darling Basin Compliance Compact Assurance Report 2019 is available on the MDBA website.

For more information on compliance in the Basin take a look at our Complying with the Basin Plan fact sheet.


  • The Murray–Darling Basin covers one million square kilometres.
  • The Murray–Darling Basin accounts for about 14 per cent of Australia's land mass and produces about 40 per cent of our food and fibre.
  • 2.6 million people live in the Murray–Darling Basin and more than 3 million rely on it for drinking water.


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