People who live in the Basin have great knowledge of their region. Basin governments work with communities to draw on local knowledge, experience and advice to implement the Basin Plan.
Connecting with communities is crucial to implementing the Basin Plan, and is most effectively done through engagement tailored to suit individual communities and key issues.
Groups and individuals with a wide variety of perspectives provide advice to governments and the MDBA on implementing the Basin Plan, primarily through advisory committees. The advice informs decisions that state and federal governments, the MDBA and the Commonwealth Environment Water Office make about water management activities.
There are a number of advisory groups that provide advice and expertise to the MDBA on Aboriginal issues, environmental watering, water planning, and social, economic and environmental sciences. These include the Basin Community Committee, the Northern Basin Advisory Committee, Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, and the Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences. State governments and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office also have advisory groups to guide their activities. Throughout 2015–16 these committees continued to provide an important link to the Basin's communities.
A highlight that has emerged from partnering with advisory groups is the Use-and-Occupancy Mapping project. Use-and-Occupancy Mapping can be used by Aboriginal people to advocate for the protection of land and water to meet cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic obligations. The project is also helping non-Aboriginal people to better understand Aboriginal people's life on Country.
The MDBA and governments also use a variety of other approaches to engage with communities, including various forms of social media, newsletters, newspaper advertisements, and local radio. MDBA and governments also conducted one-on-one interviews and hosted community meetings. In 2015–16 around 210 community meetings were held.
In 2016, the MDBA also initiated a pilot of regional engagement officers located in six Basin communities to provide residents with an easily-accessible representative of the MDBA.
In addition to engaging with communities, the Australian and state governments work in partnership to implement the Basin Plan. Different agencies have different roles in implementation and so must work together to ensure they understand their responsibilities and coordinate their efforts.
Following adoption of the Basin Plan, governments established the Basin Plan Implementation Committee to oversee Basin Plan implementation activities. This committee plays a key role in ensuring collaborative implementation of the Basin Plan, including water resource planning, environmental watering priorities and monitoring and evaluation of the Basin Plan. The Committee is supported by a number of working groups that include Basin government officials and the MDBA working together to support Basin Plan delivery.
Basin government roles and responsibilities
Visit mdba.gov.au for more information and to order your free copy of Managing water in the Murray–Darling Basin — who does what?
Government agencies from all Basin states and the Commonwealth are involved in implementing the Basin Plan. Each of these agencies has a different role and responsibility:
Basin state agencies
The Basin states are responsible for developing water resource plans and long term watering plans; developing and implementing projects for the sustainable diversion limit adjustment; implementing the water trading rules; identifying local annual watering priorities; helping coordinate and deliver environmental water; and monitoring and reporting on their activities.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is responsible for recovering water through on and off farm infrastructure investment and water purchase, to achieve the sustainable diversion limits in the Plan. It will also fund projects for adjusting the sustainable diversion limit.
Murray–Darling Basin Authority
The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) prepared, implements and reviews the Basin Plan. The MDBA operates the River Murray system on behalf of partner governments and assists in coordinating environmental watering at a whole-of-basin level. The MDBA also sets annual Basin-wide watering priorities; works with the Basin states to make sure their water resource plans meet the requirements of the Plan and regulates water trading.
Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) manages water acquired by the Australian Government for the environment. The CEWH is the largest holder of environmental water in the Basin and takes a lead role in consulting and coordinating with state water holders, river operators, the MDBA, scientists, and local communities.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides advice to the Australian Government water minister and the MDBA on the water market rules and water charge rules. The ACCC also regulates, monitors, and reports on compliance with the water charge rules.