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Water resource plans

Water resource plans are an integral part of implementing the Basin Plan. They set new rules on how much water can be taken from the system, ensuring the sustainable diversion limit is not exceeded over time.

Basin state governments are developing water resource plans. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority is working closely with Basin state governments to ensure water resource plans meet the requirements of the Basin Plan and address the local requirements of water resource management.

Each water resource plan sets out the rules for how water is used at a local or catchment level, including new limits on how much water can be taken from the system, how much water will be made available to the environment, and how water quality standards can be met. Basin state governments are responsible for complying with water resource plans and accounting for water taken from the river system.

Water resource plans outline how each region aims to achieve community, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes and ensure that state water management rules meet the Basin Plan objectives. The plans reflect current arrangements that are working and include new arrangements that strengthen water management at a local level.

Getting the plans right can take time—local communities must have confidence that the plans are robust, high quality and adequately address local needs.

Water resource plans will continue to evolve and be adapted over time as new information becomes available. They may need to be reaccredited in the future as they are adjusted and improved.

What's in a water resource plan?

Water resource plans cover a wide range of water management subjects, including:

More information

An update on the latest water resource plan quarterly report

 

Water resource plan progress

Water resource plans must be accredited by the Commonwealth Minister responsible for water. Basin state governments are responsible for developing plans and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority assesses the plans and provides advice for accreditation.

The water resource plan accreditation process includes a number of stages, for Basin state governments, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and the Commonwealth Minister responsible for water.  Much of the critical work for water resource planning happens in the development stages where plans are developed in consultation with communities and the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to meet local water management needs and Basin Plan requirements.

 

Timeframe extensions 

The timeframe to complete water resource plans was determined in 2012. We now have a better understanding of the complexities of water management. Plans for each area must consider a range of detailed policy requirements and address the local context of water resource management, on-the-ground – this can be challenging.

The Commonwealth Minister responsible for water has granted timeframe extensions for some of the individual water resource plans.

Information on extensions granted is published on the Australian Government Department of Agriculture website.

There may be circumstances where plans are either not submitted by the deadline, or do not meet the requirements to be accredited. In these instances, the MDBA will work closely with Basin governments to ensure the most practical and efficient pathway to accreditation, while ensuring Basin Plan requirements are met. Together, Commonwealth and State water ministers may agree the best process to achieve this.

If a plan has not been submitted, or has not met the requirements of the Basin Plan, the MDBA has step-in powers under the Water Act. These powers would only be used as a last resort.

Basin state and territory governments will enter into bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth to ensure key elements of the water resource plans are given effect from 1 July 2019 where water resource plans are not accredited by that date. The agreements ensure that sustainable diversion limits and measures to protect and better manage environmental water are in place from 1 July 2019.

The MDBA has signed bilateral agreements with all Basin state and territory governments to ensure key elements of water resource plans, such as sustainable diversion limits and measures to protect and better manage environmental water, are given effect from 1 July 2019. These agreements promote transparency and give the MDBA and the community confidence in the consistent application of key Basin Plan elements across all Basin states and territories (read the bilateral agreements).

Managing water is complex. It depends on a partnership between the Australian Government, Basin state governments, and Basin communities. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority is working closely with Basin state governments, as they develop their water resource plans. This collaborative approach will make accreditation as efficient as possible. 

The MDBA will continue to report regularly on the progress of water resource plan development and accreditation, and we are further increasing transparency by publishing all water resource plans we receive for assessment.

See the quarterly report which lists progress against all water resource plans

Stage Water resource plan Responsibility
Assist

The following water resource plan draft packages have been submitted to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for preliminary assessment:

  • Barwon–Darling watercourse – New South Wales
  • Darling Alluvium – New South Wales
  • Gwydir surface water – New South Wales
  • Gwydir Alluvium (groundwater) – New South Wales
  • Intersecting streams surface water – New South Wales
  • Lachlan surface water – New South Wales
  • Lachlan Alluvium (groundwater) – New South Wales
  • Murray Alluvium – New South Wales
  • Murrumbidgee surface water – New South Wales
  • Macquarie–Castlereagh surface water – New South Wales
  • Macquarie–Castlereagh Alluvium (groundwater) – New South Wales
  • Murrumbidgee Alluvium (groundwater) – New South Wales
  • Namoi Alluvium – New South Wales
  • Namoi surface water  – New South Wales
  • New South Wales Border Rivers surface water 
  • New South Wales Border Rivers Alluvium 
  • New South Wales Great Artesian Basin Shallow
  • New South Wales Murray–Darling Basin fractured rock
  • New South Wales Murray–Darling Basin porous rock
  • New South Wales Murray and Lower Darling surface water
Basin state governments and Murray–Darling Basin Authority 
Assess Murray–Darling Basin Authority
Accredit Commonwealth Minister responsible for water
Complete
  • Warrego–Paroo–Nebine – Queensland - view the plan
  • Border Rivers Moonie (groundwater/surface water) – Queensland - view the plan
  • Condamine–Balonne (groundwater/surface water) – Queensland - view the plan
  • Murray Region (groundwater/surface water) – South Australia - view the plan
  • Wimmera–Mallee (groundwater) – Victoria - view the plan
  • Wimmera–Mallee (surface water) – Victoria - view the plan
 

Water resource plan accreditation

Stage 1: Assist

  • Basin state governments have completed risk assessments, started planning and determined the process for seeking input from the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.
  • Basin state governments have been consulting with local communities, water users and peak bodies to ensure local needs are considered in any changes to regional water management through water resource plans.
  • This stage requires consultation with relevant Aboriginal Nations.
  • Basin state governments provide draft water resource plan materials to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority for initial guidance and advice.

Stage 2: Assess

  • Basin state governments formally submit their water resource plan package to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to determine whether it meets the Basin Plan objectives.
  • The Murray–Darling Basin Authority assesses the water resource plan and provides advice to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for water.
  • Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations and Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations review the state's process of engagement with Aboriginal Nations and provide their assessment to the Murray–Darling Basin Authority. This advice is included in the package of advice that goes to the Commonwealth Minister responsible for water.

Stage 3: Accredit

  • The Commonwealth Minister responsible for water makes the final decision whether to accredit water resource plans.
  • Once accredited by the Minister, plans are operational.

 

 

Updated: 11 Oct 2019