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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, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria 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.

This is the eighth Report Card produced by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). It responds to feedback from the community seeking short, timely updates on progress. Like previous report cards, our assessment has accounted for project status, delivery timeframes, and governance and funding arrangements. The report is also informed by feedback from governments, industries and Basin communities.

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.

Five key elements of Basin Plan implementation have been assessed. Some elements are on track, while others are at risk of delay. Until all components of the Basin Plan are operational, with the collective effort of Basin governments, the full benefits for Basin communities and the nation cannot be delivered.

Assessment – July 2022

A tachometer for water resource plans showing on track status

Water resource plans

Accredited plans from Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory remain in operation. The MDBA has provided guidance to Basin governments on the process to amend water resource plans so the plans can evolve and adapt to new information and improvements.

Tachometer showing the status of NSW water resource plans in the

New South Wales water resource plans

New South Wales has formally submitted 1 of the 20 water resource plans to the MDBA and provided 5 water resource plans for review ahead of formal submission.

A graphic image of tachometer for water recover showing a status of good progress

Water recovery

Bridging the gap

Achieving the water recovery target is close to completion, with approximately 98% of the surface water and 92% of the groundwater targets recovered as at 30 April 2022. There was no Bridging the Gap water recovery between 1 January and 30 April 2022. Further work is needed to achieve the full recovery targets.

Tachometer showing the status of SDLAM supply and constraints measures in the

Sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism

Supply and constrains measures

While local supply measures are progressing, substantial work remains to deliver the system-scale projects. All projects interact as a package, and successful delivery at the local scale cannot offset the lack of progress of the critical system-scale projects. Seven SDLAM projects were recently assessed by Basin governments as being at high or extreme risk of not being completed by 30 June 2024.

Tachometer showing the status of SDLAM efficiency measures in the

Sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism

Efficiency measures

Two further Efficiency Measures projects under the Off-farm Efficiency Program were announced in January 2022 (New South Wales Murrumbidgee Irrigation Automation Finalisation Project; South Australia Marion Water Efficiency Project). However, these are relatively minor in the context of the 450 GL efficiency measures target. Only 2 GL of the additional 450 GL has been recovered, with a further 22.1 GL contracted for delivery.

A graphic image of a tachometer for northern basin showing a status of good progress

Northern Basin initiatives

Meeting the 2024 timeframes for many environmental works projects will be challenging, but good progress has been made with policy and management measures that form part of the toolkit. Business case development work is continuing on a number of the environmental projects.

A graphic image of a tachometer for environmental water delivery showing a status of good progress

Environmental water delivery

A range of improvements are still being delivered (e.g. Pre-requisite Policy Measures improvements; Enhanced Environmental Water Delivery).Environmental water is playing an important role to fill in gaps between inflows and maintain water levels in key rivers, forests and wetlands, but outcomes are being limited by not having relaxed constraints.




Following amendments to the Water Act 2007 (Cth) (the Water Act) and the Basin Plan 2012, the MDBA is no longer responsible for enforcing compliance with the Basin Plan. This responsibility now sits with the Inspector-General of Water Compliance (IGWC), which was formally established on 5 August 2021.

The newly established IGWC has oversight of water management in the Basin, and inquiry powers to investigate the implementation of the Water Act, the Basin Plan and intergovernmental agreements, including the Murray– Darling Basin Agreement.

In response to these new arrangements this Report Card has not assessed Basin Plan compliance.



2022 mid-year Report Card – read the full report
2021 end-year Report Card – read the full report
2021 mid-year Report Card – read the full report
2020 Report Card (assessment incorporated into 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation)
2020 mid-year Report Card – read the full report
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: 11 Aug 2022  •   MDBA reports