Water resource plans dribble in

By Country News

The progress of completing water resource plans across the Murray-Darling Basin is on ‘‘steady footing’’, despite all basin states asking for an extension on the June 30, 2019 deadline.

In a quarterly report issued by Murray-Darling Basin Authority, the authority said just six of the 33 plans were under formal assessment by MDBA and a further five plans were expected to be submitted for formal assessment by April 30, with NSW lagging behind in the completion of its 20 water resource plans.

The Goulburn Murray and northern Victoria water resource plans are expected to be among the first to be completed and accredited.

MDBA’s partnerships executive director Carl Binning said the 33 water resource plans would form the basis of river water and groundwater use in the basin, including the limits on how much water could be used.

‘‘South Australia, NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT all took the opportunity to apply to the minister for extensions to the basin plan’s June 30, 2019 deadline for water resource plan accreditation. A regulation made under the Water Act 2007 has provided extensions of up to 10 months,’’ he said.

Mr Binning said the additional time provided to finalise the remaining water resource plans would not affect the basin plan’s implementation schedule.

‘‘Basin governments have acknowledged that the new limits on water extraction and the commitments to protect and better manage environmental water will come into effect on July 1, 2019, regardless of water resource plan progress.

‘‘This quarterly report shows that while the pace has picked up over the past year, there is significant work required before the end of the year to formulate, review and assess the plans.

‘‘We’re pleased to have six plans currently with the MDBA for formal assessment and expect a further five plans to be submitted for formal assessment by April 30, 2019.’’

Mr Binning said the quarterly report showed the ACT, Queensland, South Australian and Victorian governments were on track to have their water resource plans accredited early in 2019-20.