Progress towards meeting environmental needs under the Basin Plan

​​​​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources publishes monthly the progress of environmental water recovery in relation to bridging the gap towards the proposed sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Current recoveries are as at 31 December 2017

‘Bridging the Gap’ Water Recoveries

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan sets out a local water recovery target for each SDL resource unit area. This target must be met by recovering water from within that SDL resource unit area in order to successfully ‘bridge the gap’. Commonwealth and State contracted water recovery against these targets are set out below.

Surface Water Recoveries

Shared zone (all units in gigalitres)Local target SDL reductionShared target SDL reductionTotal target SDL reductionTotal recovery progressTotal recovery remaining *
Qld zone117.0 
NSW zone130.0  184.9 
Northern Basin zone total247.0143.0390.0313.476.6
NSW zone590.0458.01 048.0773.3274.7
ACT zone0.
Vic. zone627.0425.31 052.3 800.5251.8
SA zone101.082.8183.8 143.9 39.9
Southern Basin zone total1 318.0971.02 289.01 722.5566.5
Disconnected NSW (Lachlan)48.0N/A48.048.00.0
Disconnected Vic. (Wimmera–Mallee)23.0N/A23.022.60.4
Total Basin1636.01114.02750.02106.4643.6

* This does not take into account the potential reduction to the water recovery target that may arise from the operation of the SDL Adjustment Mechanism. Allow for minor rounding.

Amendments to the Basin Plan that commenced in law and were tabled in Federal Parliament on 14 November 2017 to reduce the water recovery target from 390 GL to 320 GL as a result of the Northern Basin Review (Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No.1)), were disallowed by the Senate on 14 February 2018. Therefore, these amendments to the Basin Plan were repealed on 14 February 2018.

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 reduction

Shared target SDL reduction

Total target SDL reduction

Total recovery progress

Total recovery remaining

Upper Condamine Alluvium






* Groundwater recovery does not contribute to the surface water recovery target of 2750 GL.

Further information

Further details on environmental water recovery can be found below:

Efficiency measures water recoveries

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 to be achieved while maintaining or improving social and economic outcomes (Efficiency Measures). Efficiency Measures projects will potentially recover water needed to meet the SDLs.

SDL Resource Unit (all units in gigalitres)

Total Contracted Water Recovery

Total Water Recovery registered to the CEWH

SA Murray



Further information

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

Notes for the above tables:

All water recoveries figures are expressed in long-term average annual yield (LTAAY) terms.

Surface water average annual yields are calculated using the current long-term diversion limit equivalent factors (v2.05) agreed to by Ministerial Council in November 2011 or are consistent with accredited Water Resource Plans. All Overland Flow water recoveries have their factors individually modelled by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Water recovery is reported at the point at which water savings or purchase have been received, estimated or agreed in signed contracts. Until water transfer contracts have been exchanged however, these figures may be subject to change over time.

For total water recoveries allow for minor rounding.