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Progress towards meeting environmental needs under the Basin Plan

​​​​​​​​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources publishes the progress of environmental water recovery under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on a monthly basis.

Current recoveries are as at 30 November 2018

‘Bridging the Gap’ Water Recoveries

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan sets out a local water recovery target for each SDL resource unit area along with shared water recovery targets for SDL resource units within a zone. The local target must be met by recovering water from within that SDL resource unit with any water recovery over this amount going to the shared target, all of which must be fully recovered in order to successfully ‘bridge the gap’ by 30 June 2019. Commonwealth and State contracted water recovery are recorded against these targets.

Surface Water Recoveries including the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism

The Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) amendment instrument commenced in law on the 13 January 2018.  

As set out in the Basin Plan, the SDL Adjustment Mechanism adds flexibility to the SDLs by allowing equivalent environmental outcomes of the Basin Plan to be achieved through more efficient use of environmental water (Supply Measures) and further environmental outcomes to those agreed in the Basin Plan that achieve neutral or improved socio-economic outcomes (Efficiency Measures).

The MDBA’s assessment of the package of supply measures nominated by State Governments, found that Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDL) in the southern Murray-Darling Basin can be adjusted upwards by 605 GL, reducing environmental water recovery by this amount. The Basin Plan Amendment (SDL Adjustments) Instrument 2017 which became law on 13 January 2018 allows for a full supply contribution of 605 GL LTAAY to be distributed across the southern basin. More information is available at Murray–Darling Basin Authority - Adjustment to sustainable diversion limits.

Amendments to the Basin Plan as a result of the Northern Basin Review commenced in law on 3 July 2018. The Basin plan amendment (Basin Plan Amendment Instrument (No.1) 2018) reduces the water recovery target in the northern Basin from 390 GL to 320 GL​.

Murray-Darling Basin
(all units in gigalitres)
​Local Target Shared Target Recovery towards Bridging the GapApportioned supply contributionLocal remaining recovery task Shared remaining recovery taskRemaining recovery task
Total Basin1668.01012.02117.7605.029.80.0029.8
All water recovery figures are expressed in long term average annual yield (LTAAY GL) terms.

Efficiency Contribution by 30 June 2019

Efficiency projects are water savings for the environment made through on-farm and off-farm irrigation efficiencies, as well as urban, industrial and mining.

A minimum of 62 GL of additional water savings through efficiency projects must be recovered for the full 605 GL supply contribution to be realised by 30 June 2019. Efficiency measures of 1.84 GL LTAAY have been secured or agreed in funding contracts, of which 0.46 GL LTAAY are registered with the CEWH and contribute to the required 62 GL LTAAY efficiency contribution.

(The total surface water SDL for the Basin water resources as at the reference time, the time at which the Basin Plan first took effect 24 November 2012, is 10,873 GL per year. Consistent with the Basin Plan, this figure may only be adjusted through the SDLAM by a net five per cent, i.e. up or down by a net maximum of 543 GL per year. Noting that the net five per cent applies at the Basin-scale, individual SDL resources units may increase or decrease by greater than five per cent, as long as the net Basin-wide SDL remains within the five per cent range.)

Murray-Darling Basin
(all units in gigalitres)
TargetRegistered water recoveryContracted water recoveryRecovery remaining
Total Basin62.00.461.9461.54
All water recovery figures are expressed in long term average annual yield (LTAAY GL) terms.

Further information

Water recovery volumes are expected to change as cap factors are updated and Water Resource Plans are finalised to be accredited under the Basin Plan by 30 June 2019.

The NSW Government and the MDBA are updating the planning assumptions and calculation methods for cap factors incorporating the most recent information. Updated factors were released for public consultation ahead of accreditation of water resource plans in June 2019 and submissions are now being reviewed.

Further details on environmental water recovery can be found below:

Efficiency measures water recoveries

The SDLAM also allows delivery of an additional 450GL of water through efficiency measures, intended to achieve enhanced environmental outcomes for the Basin consistent with the Basin Plan legal requirement to achieve neutral or improved socio-economic outcomes across the Basin by 30 June 2024.

Murray-Darling Basin (all units in gigalitres)Total Target
Total Contracted Water Recovery
Total Water Recovery registered to the CEWH
Remaining recovery
Total Basin450 1.94 0.46449.54
All water recovery figures are expressed in long term average annual yield (LTAAY GL) terms.

Further information

Further details on the SDL Adjustment Mechanism can be found below:

Groundwater recoveries

The Commonwealth is undertaking water recoveries that aim to protect the long-term productive base of the Queensland Upper Condamine Alluvium aquifer, consistent with the groundwater sustainable diversion limits set by the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

Shared zone (all units in gigalitres)Local target SDL reductionShared target SDL reductionTotal recovery progressTotal recovery remaining
Upper Condamine Alluvium35.4N/A 8.6926.71
Tributaries5.0N/A 0.044.96
​​All water recovery figures are expressed in long term average annual yield (LTAAY GL)) terms. Groundwater recovery does not contribute to the surface water recovery target.

Further information

A groundwater purchase tender is in the Queensland Upper Condamine Alluvium has recently closed. Outcomes of the evaluation are now available via the department’s website.​

Further details on environmental water recovery can be found below: