Basin Plan Report Card reveals steady progress, with more to do

The six-monthly ‘health check’ released by the MDBA today shows progress to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has kept pace, with more action needed in the future to deliver important on-ground projects.

The Basin Plan is unlike any other reform of its kind in the world – it’s aim is to ensure that water is shared between all users, including the environment, in a sustainable way – and in the national interest.

The MDBA regularly provides an independent assessment of the six key elements of Basin Plan progress which highlights achievements to date, and where actions need to be adapted or fast-tracked to improve progress. It also includes feedback the MDBA has been hearing from a wide range of stakeholders across the Basin.

MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde said despite a challenging start to 2020, the mid-year Report Card reveals governments were on track with many of their commitments, but he warned greater effort is needed to ensure agreed on-ground projects to modernise the way the river is managed were delivered as planned.

“Of the 36 on-ground projects to modernise the river, 30 have progressed or are complete, while six are not on track and are at significant risk of delay,” Phillip Glyde said. These projects are all due to be completed by 2024.

“These are significant, multi-million-dollar projects, that require extensive consultation with landholders and communities, but some projects have taken longer than originally expected.

“There’s been great effort in recent months by the states to complete their water resource plans. Plans are now operational in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. We’re assessing New South Wales’ groundwater plans and expect to receive their surface water plans by the end of June.”

While most of the water for the environment has been recovered, progress on the remaining 450GL by 2024 under the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism has been slow.

Environmental water holders have used what water they have strategically, off the back of recent rains, to improve the river health.

“We encourage e-water holders to share more widely the outcomes of these watering events to build confidence in the community.”

The states are generally on track with their commitments in the Basin Compliance Compact, but progress with metering and measuring water extracted in the northern Basin is slow and uneven.

“Robust and transparent compliance measures like metering and monitoring are key to building confidence that water users are doing the right thing and the states need to show more willingness to act in this area,” Phillip Glyde said.

“We know communities want timely updates on the progress of the Basin Plan which is why we keep an eye on how each element is tracking and communicate this progress openly and transparently.

“We also know from our conversations with some communities in the Basin, that the scale and pace of change is hard to maintain, and there are a range of factors influencing that change. On top of that, the water market is behaving strongly and also driving change in these communities.

“We congratulate governments and communities for the progress made since 2012 and the continued collaboration to ensure the Plan can be implemented for a sustainable and productive Basin.”

The three major reports released today are available on the MDBA website at:

/Public Release. View in full here.