Water plans risk missing cut-off

By Country News

Despite progress being made with water resource plans, there remains a risk not all plans will be accredited by the July 2019 deadline, says Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair Neil Andrew.

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 Murray-Darling Basin Plan objectives.

The MDBA said the water resource plans, which are provided to the authority for advice before being submitted to Federal Water Minister David Littleproud for approval, were an integral part of the basin plan.

Despite concerns about their progress, Mr Andrew said an October meeting of the authority had provided a useful snapshot of basin priorities and the work ahead.

The meeting continued to discuss persistent dry conditions across the basin, which have not improved significantly since recent rains, with Mr Andrew saying it posed a ‘‘real test’’ of the environment, farmers and rural communities’ resilience.

‘‘The basin plan helps prepare us for drought by ensuring water is shared fairly between all water users,’’ Mr Andrew said.

‘‘That’s a core reason behind the authority board urging all jurisdictions and the MDBA and Commonwealth to continue to make every effort to implement the plan.’’

Mr Andrew also called on jurisdictions to ‘‘redouble’’ their efforts to work together to manage the ongoing risk of water delivery shortfall in the Murray River system.

‘‘A water delivery shortfall can happen when demand exceeds the physical capacity of rivers to carry the water, or when demands for water spike and there’s not enough time to release more,’’ Mr Andrew said.

‘‘The authority urges all water users along the River Murray, especially downstream of the Barmah Choke, to understand the risk of water delivery shortfall and take it into account in their business planning and investment decisions.’’