Skip to main content
Go to search page

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 fifth Report Card produced by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA). 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, as well as actively observing and listening to the feedback being obtained through a number of reviews occurring in the first half of 2020. 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, while 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 - June 2020

Water resource plans

Status: Plans from Victoria, Queensland and South Australia are accredited and in place. Plans for the ACT have been assessed and have been recommended for accreditation.

Water resource plans (NSW)

Status: Plans were originally due 30 June 2019. NSW recently provided 11 groundwater plans to the MDBA for assessment. NSW has undertaken consultation on the remaining nine plans and agreed in April to submit all plans by 30 June 2020.

Water recovery

Bridging the gap

Status: Targeted local and shared recovery needs to be fast-tracked to ensure compliance and conclude the program. Future water recovery should consider lessons learned from the original program, including the impact on Basin communities.

Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism

Supply measures

Status: The complex and significant supply and constraints projects remain at risk. There is a high level of stakeholder concern with the major projects. Without implementation of all these projects by 2024, more water will need to be recovered.

Efficiency measures

Status: Only a very small amount of water has been recovered under this program, with little progress since the launch of the program in 2019 (1.9 GL/y as at March 2020).

Northern Basin Initiatives

Status: Projects are at various stages, with some projects on track providing confidence to communities, while some projects are delayed. A clear approach to implementation is required and should be made publicly available.


Status: Consistent metering and transparent information about governance arrangements is required to build confidence in water regulation. Basin governments have protected the first flush following significant rainfall in the northern Basin. An evaluation of this event is underway.

Environmental water delivery

Status: Environmental water holders and Basin governments have used water strategically, on the back of recent rainfall to improve river health for everyone. Further transparency and improved communications are needed to provide communities with confidence that water for the environment is achieving outcomes.



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: 22 Sep 2020  •   MDBA reports