Goverment of South Australia April 2016
River Murray Update

Back the Basin Plan


Sticking to the plan critical to a healthy, working River Murray


Three years on, significant progress has been made in delivering the Basin Plan in South Australia.


While implementation is in its early stages, there are clear indications that the Basin Plan and associated Commonwealth-funded programmes are providing benefits to South Australian communities and environments.

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Looking forward, there are a number of challenges facing Basin Plan implementation.


Senate Inquiry Report released


The final report of the Select Committee on the Murray-Darling Basin, was made available on 17 March 2016. The report indicates that some Senate Select Committee members want to roll-back hard-fought measures essential to health of the River Murray.


The South Australian Government has reiterated that the Federal Government and Basin governments must stick to the plan that promised the equivalent of 3200 gigalitres of water returned to the environment each year.


Making every drop count


The Basin Plan established new sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) that reflect an environmentally sustainable limit of take from the River Murray. The new SDLs will take effect in 2019.


Basin States have the opportunity to adjust the SDLs set out in the Basin Plan, to make sure we are making the most of every drop of water.


Today, the Murray-Darling Ministerial Council have agreed on a package of measures that will allow equivalent or better environmental, social and economic outcomes to be achieved.


This is an important outcome for South Australians who have fought hard to secure the health of the River Murray.


This package of measures, to be delivered over the next eight years, includes measures that will reduce the remaining water recovery task, meaning more water will be available for production while maintaining environmental benefits.


Included in the package are efficiency measures, which involves funding for additional irrigation and water management efficiency measures in the Basin. These project will result in an extra 450 gigalitres of water recovery with no negative socio-economic impacts for communities.


The package also includes constraints measures, which are projects that make it easier for water to reach greater areas of wetlands and floodplains. Constraints measures may include securing easements or constructing levees, and upgrading bridges, roads, jetties and culverts to enable the removal or easing of constraints on water delivery without adverse impacts on landholders.


The Ministerial Council decision was made ahead of the 30 June deadline, and ensures the implementation of the Basin Plan and a total return of the equivalent of 3,200 gigalitres of water to the environment remains on track.


The agreement is vital to achieving long-lasting benefits for the River Murray and water users, including primary producers, industry, recreational users and the environment.


Basin jurisdictions and the MDBA will finalise project assessments and determine the actual quantum of water recovery offsets – the initial offset volume will be firmed up by late 2016.


Basin communities will continue to be engaged in delivery of the measures, including in the detailed design of constraints projects to avoid or mitigate any potential impacts.


Read the communique

Read the news release


For more information on the Basin Plan, read the Basin Plan Annual Report or visit the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources website.

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