No basin plan B

August 10, 2017

By Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief executive Phillip Glyde.

Delivering the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a complex and difficult task — no-one said it would be easy, but we must keep going.

The recent ABC Four Corners program raised serious concerns about non-compliance by water holders in the northern basin.

These allegations are corrosive, and must be thoroughly investigated so we can all have trust and faith in the system.

Everyone must follow the rules; compliance is vital to the future of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has been asked by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consider a national basin-wide compliance review, to report to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) by December this year.

I expect the MDBA Compliance Review, and the other reviews and investigations, will strengthen compliance and monitoring activity across the basin.

We know that more needs to be done and we must act.

The compliance review will run in parallel with all the other important tasks ahead for the MDBA over the coming months. We have a lot to get done in 2017.

The MDBA is assessing projects nominated by basin state governments that aim to use environmental water more efficiently, meaning less water will be recovered and more water will be available for productive use in the southern basin.

These projects, under the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism, will achieve a sustainable diversion limit offset of at least 600Gl — this means no further water recovery in the southern connected basin when combined with existing water recovery contracts.

The MDBA, in collaboration with other government officials, will be visiting communities in the coming months to share information about the adjustment mechanism.

The basin plan is about restoring balance to the use of water in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Without it, we will never have a healthy and productive river system.

Repairing 100 years of damage will take time but we are already seeing improvements, only five years in.

COAG recently reaffirmed its commitment to the basin plan, and endorsed an implementation plan to deliver the basin plan on time and in full.

Together, we are safeguarding one of Australia’s greatest national assets.

There is no plan B.

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