Just prior to the start of a major Canberra protest rally, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released a statement defending the plan and pointing to the drought.
The authority's chief executive officer Phillip Glyde acknowledged the right to protest but emphasised the impact of the drought on the basin.
"We know communities across the Murray–Darling Basin are battling against one of the worst droughts on record and it’s taking its toll on our landscape, people’s businesses, mental health and morale.
"We’re seeing widespread dust storms and bushfires, towns are running out of water, and our native fish are under threat. Some First Nations are telling us they’re concerned about the quality of drinking water and the cultural wellbeing of their communities. There is no one this drought hasn’t touched.
"Pausing or ditching the Basin Plan wouldn’t turn the taps or pumps on—and it wouldn’t alleviate the pain being felt in these communities during drought,'' Mr Glyde said.
"The Basin Plan is a once in a life time opportunity to restore the health of this great river system for the long-term benefit of basin communities.''
"We are only half-way but we know it’s working. There are early signs of healthier rivers.
"Implementing the Plan is not easy and not without challenges—however, it remains our nation's best pathway for securing the future of this vital shared resource and the communities that depend on it,'' Mr Glyde said.