Basin authority to monitor compliance

By Jamie Salter

Compliance and enforcement of water rules in the Murray-Darling Basin will be the focus of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority over the next 12 months.

MDBA basin plan regulation executive director Tim Goodes said the Office of Compliance’s planned 2020-21 work program would build on the progress made by state governments and the MDBA in recent years.

“This water year the Office of Compliance will be focused on ensuring states comply with the (Murray-Darling) Basin Plan and accredited Water Resource Plans, giving communities the assurance that water is being used in accordance with the rules,” Mr Goodes said.

“We will also be reviewing state water metering policies and the compliance framework for regulating floodplain harvesting to ensure water take is authorised.

“We’ll be checking that state-based rules for protecting water for the environment and first flush flows are being followed, to safeguard the health of our rivers.”

Mr Goodes said the basin plan sets the amount of water that can be taken from the basin each year, while leaving enough for the environment.

“In the last water year to June 2020, our compliance team was in the field doing site inspections and meter coverage reviews in Victoria and South Australia, monitoring floodplain harvesting policy implementation in the northern basin, and providing the public with clear information about water markets and trade,” he said.

“We used satellites to monitor the first flush flow in the northern basin in February this year and provided the NSW regulator with data to help track compliance with embargoes preventing water take.

“This saw thousands of kilometres of dry riverbed finally receive a flow and the Barwon-Darling river reconnect with the Murray.”

The 2020-21 Compliance Priorities are available on the MDBA website, as well as a statement of performance on the 2019-20 priorities.