The long-awaited, revised draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been made public, after the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) considered more than 12,000 submissions from stakeholders and representative groups.
“Since the release of the draft in November, we have continued to consider and test ideas and information to revise the draft plan that we are now presenting to Basin governments,” said Craig Knowles, Chairman of MDBA in a media release.
“We’re confident that the Plan is well balanced and presents a way forward on management of the Murray–Darling system.”
Many users continue to have concerns about the latest plan to manage Australia’s most important river system.
The plan aims to return 2750 gigalitres of surface water to the river system annually, but South Australian Premier Jay Weatherall says this target is not enough to improve the failing health of the river.
“If we can’t get a healthy river out of this plan then it’s not a plan worth supporting,” Weatherall told the ABC.
The South Australian Government has threatened to wage a High Court battle over water entitlements if concessions are not made to the Act.
Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh told the ABC that limits to irrigation in northern Victoria would spell the end for some farming districts.
“The target level of 2750 GL has not changed. There is no apportionment of that water between the states, so if all that water was to come out of Victoria, irrigation in northern Victoria would be closed down,” Walsh said.
In the revised Plan, annual groundwater limits were reduced from 4,340 gigalitres to 3,184 gigalitres, following advice from a panel of groundwater experts, including environmentalists. The panel examined key issues including surface water-groundwater connectivity and coal seam gas mining in the Basin.
State Water Ministers have six weeks to respond before the MDBA hands its final report to the Federal Government.
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