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Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program

Tala Creek in NSW

The Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program is an Australian Government initiative to strengthen scientific knowledge of the Murray–Darling Basin. It is designed to help inform water and environment management decisions which will improve outcomes for the Basin and its communities.

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment have identified four priority themes to be the focus of the strategic research component of the Murray–Darling Water and Environment Research Program:

  1. Climate adaptation
  2. Hydrology
  3. Environmental outcomes
  4. Social, economic and cultural outcomes.

​The Program is made possible by the $20 million commitment by the Australian Government to improve Basin Plan outcomes through targeted research. The program will deliver three components:

  • Practical information for water managers: Synthesis and communication products that summarise existing science for water managers.
  • Short and responsive investment: Use of existing science and expertise for urgent high need projects. These projects will be very focused and likely to be completed within short 2–6month timeframes.
  • Strategic research: Collaboration between the Commonwealth and research consortia to co-design and deliver applied research. Research partners will be required to co-invest in the research to be delivered by mid-2024. 

In December 2020 the MDBA and Commonwealth partners announced that 2 consortia, led by both CSIRO and La Trobe University, have been selected through a tender process to deliver the strategic research component of the program. The consortia bring $7 million of their own resources and numerous multi-disciplinary collaborators, significantly extending the reach of the program.

The formal arrangements are being negotiated and a further announcement, including key collaborators, will be made in early 2021.

The strategic research component of the program will be co-developed between researchers and key end users with a co-design process commencing in February 2021.

The program will provide opportunities for engagement with key stakeholders, including government, First Nations, industry and community.

Enquiries can be directed to

Updated: 11 Dec 2020