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Basin Plan report card

The Murray–Darling Basin is the largest and most complex river system in Australia. The Basin Plan is a major reform agenda, agreed by the Australian Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. The Plan is intended to ensure that the shared water resources of the Basin are managed and used sustainably, in the national interest.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) published its third report card in December 2019. It responds to feedback from the community seeking short, timely updates on progress. The MDBA has considered a number of technical reports and sources of information. Our assessment has accounted for project status, delivery timeframes, governance and funding, and community consultation.

We encourage Basin governments to continue to work together, with the wider community, to implement the Basin Plan in full. We ask for particular consideration of the highlighted risks. There are many challenges ahead, and success depends on a collective effort.

Six key elements of Basin Plan implementation have been assessed. Some elements are on track, some need more resourcing and immediate actions, and others are at risk of delay. These elements are interconnected, the Basin Plan needs progress in all areas to set the groundwork for a healthy and sustainable Basin.

Assessment - December 2019

Water resource plans

All plans from Queensland and South Australia are accredited. Plans from Victoria and ACT are well progressed, and should be assessed and accredited within the extended timeframe.


There is generally good progress against the compact commitments. All governments need to complete policies and frameworks, make them publicly available and deliver improved metering and measurement.

Water resource plans (NSW)

NSW has 20 plans to submit before the end of the year. Quality plans will need to be submitted for assessment and accreditation before the next wateryear begins.

Planning and delivery of environmental water

Water for the environment is critical during the drought, and the small amount of allocated water has been used strategically to improve river health for everyone.

Northern Basin Initiatives

Project progress at various stages, including new measures to coordinate and protect water for the environment and measures to protect native fish.

Water recovery

Bridging the gap

Water recovery is very close to completion. Targeted local recovery needs to be fast-tracked to provide communities with certainty and conclude the program.


Sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism

Supply and constraints projects

Complex projects are progressing very slowly and are at risk. Without implementation of these projects by 2024, more water will need to be recovered for the environment.

Efficiency measures

The government has launched a new efficiency program, but of the
62 GL initially required under the adjustment only 1.3 GL has been recovered.




2019 end-year Report Card – read the full report
2019 mid-year Report Card – read the full report
2018 end-year Report Card – read the full report
Updated: 16 Dec 2019  •   MDBA reports