On 21 June 2017 the Commonwealth contracted to acquire 21.9 GL (17.8 GL LTAAY) of gap-bridging water in the New South Wales Lower Darling catchment from Tandou Limited.
This significant strategic water purchase will contribute towards a number of the remaining objectives in delivering the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
The purchase will make a substantial contribution to meeting the 2750 GL water recovery target under the Plan, and is an important acquisition in its own right. This transaction includes acquisition of water entitlements and decommissioning of irrigation operations.
In March 2017 the NSW Government announced a proposal to improve the management of the Menindee Lakes system "… in order to reduce evaporation, optimise the significant natural, cultural and economic [values] of the Lakes, and the continued use of the Lakes for recreational and tourism purposes."
The transaction will help facilitate this proposal by enabling more efficient operation of the Menindee Lakes Storage Scheme resulting in reduced evaporative losses, particularly in Lake Cawndilla.
The purchase of water in this location was seen as having a lesser socio-economic impact than water recovery in other areas. The property owners intend to use the property for expanded organic Dorper lamb production, and so will continue to contribute to the economy of the region.
The department continues to implement contract arrangements to acquire water through infrastructure and strategic water purchases, as agreed with relevant Basin states.
At the Ministerial Council meeting in Canberra on 16 June, 2017, Murray Darling Basin Ministers noted with a high level of confidence that the final Basin Plan SDL Adjustment Mechanism outcome, combined with remaining contracted water recovery projects, would be sufficient to fully offset the remaining water recovery 'gap' in the southern Basin.