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Published: 31 May 2022

At its meeting on 31 May 2022 on First People of the Millewa Mallee Country (Latji Latji / Mildura), the Murray–Darling Basin Authority welcomed new member Dr Jane Doolan to her first meeting. The Authority Chair, Sir Angus Houston, acknowledged it was the first time the full Authority board had met in person for quite some time.

The Authority Chair and members acknowledged that it was Andrew Reynolds’ last meeting as acting Chief Executive. They thanked him for expertly steering the MDBA over the past 10 months. Sir Angus commended Mr Reynolds on his calm and considered leadership and noted that he would return to his substantive role of Executive Director River Management. Dr Andrew Kremor was thanked for stepping into that role over this period. Sir Angus noted that incoming Chief Executive Andrew McConville will commence late June.

This Authority meeting was held on the eve of the River Reflections annual water conference. The Authority, Basin Community Committee and Basin Officials Committee also took this opportunity for a joint meeting.

Sir Angus Houston acknowledged the outcome of the federal election and that the Authority was looking forward to working with the new Australian Government.

The Authority had extensive discussions on preparation for the 2025 Basin Plan Evaluation. It agreed, with the support of Basin governments, to bring forward the due date for Schedule 12 five yearly reports from 2025 to 2024. The Authority also received an update on the preparations for the MDB Outlook which will lay the foundation for the 2025 Basin Plan Evaluation and 2026 Basin Plan Review by examining the historical, current and anticipated future condition of the Basin and discussing risks and threats to this condition, such as climate change.

The Authority is preparing to undertake a Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) reconciliation if required in 2024. As part of these preparations, the Authority has undertaken an initial review of the SDLAM supply measure contribution calculation method prescribed by the Basin Plan to help determine if the method remains fit for purpose. Further discussions will occur at a future meeting.

The Registers of Take for 2020–21 were presented to the Authority and approved for provision to the Inspector-General of Water Compliance (IGWC) for final SDL compliance assessment. Once that assessment is complete, the registers will be published on the MDBA website. The MDBA and the IGWC have complementary roles in the annual assessment of water take. The MDBA’s role in SDL accounting is the collation and assurance of data for the preparation and publication of an official record of water taken within the Basin. The IGWC makes the final assessment of SDL compliance.

The Authority received an update on NSW water resource plans (WRPs) and remains concerned that the agreed timelines for delivery won’t be met.

Members welcomed updates from the IGWC, The Hon Mr Troy Grant, the Interim Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Mr Hilton Taylor, and Queensland Basin Officials Committee member Ms Linda Dobe on Queensland’s non-urban water measurement policy.

The next full Authority meeting will be held on Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) on 15 August 2022.

Sir Angus Houston (Chair)

Professor Stuart Bunn

Ms Roseanne Healy

Dr Jane Doolan

Ms Susan Madden

Mr Rene Woods

Andrew Reynolds (acting Chief Executive)

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