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Deciding where and when water should be released into the Basin river system is complex and requires coordinated planning. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority works alongside various groups to understand the environmental needs of specific areas of the river, and monitor the health of the entire Basin. We look at natural weather events, irrigation demands, the health of native vegetation, birds and fish, the availability of water in the system, and more.


Who’s who managing water for the environment

There are lots of groups involved in managing water for the environment;
here are a few of the bigger ones.

River operators & State Constructing Authorities

Managers of dams, locks, weirs and other infrastructure; includes the MDBA

Local communities

Residents, farmers, tourism and recreation operators, and Indigenous groups

Basin States & Territory (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, ACT)

Managers of dams, locks, weirs and other infrastructure; includes the MDBA


Environmental experts

Murray–Darling Basin Authority

Independent expertise-based statutory agency

State water management authorities

Responsible for management of waterways including:

Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW)

Australian Government department responsible for the recovery of water

Environmental water holders

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH), Basin state governments and MDBA on behalf of The Living Murray program.

How we prioritise

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority gives annual advice and guidance about where water for the environment can help to protect and recover the plants, animals and landscapes of the Murray–Darling Basin.

Water holders then decide if, where and when water for the environment will be delivered to achieve our strategic short and long-term environmental objectives.

Short-term and long-term plans

We have a long-term vision for delivering water for the environment.

The Basin-wide environmental watering strategy guides the work of governments, water holders and environmental managers over the longer term. It sets out expected outcomes and provides strategies to achieve them.

Environmental strategies and plans

a map of Australia highlighting the Basin

Basin wide

Long term

Our Basin-wide strategy outlines how we can manage the improvement of the Basin ecosystem over a long period of time by coordinating water uses.

a map of Australia highlighting the states of Qld, SA, NSW and Vic


Long term

Each Basin state/territory government either has long-term plans for water use and environmental outcomes, or will have by June 2019.

Explore our areas of focus in more depth

Each year we set priorities to restore health to the environment. The annual priorities are a guide for where water should be delivered for the current year to improve the health of native plants and animals for the overall health of the Basin. The annual priorities are stepping stones towards the long term goals that are set out in the Basin watering strategy.