Murray-Darling Basin Plan
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been signed into law by the Commonwealth Minister for Water.
It sets legal limits on the amount of surface water and groundwater that can be taken from Victoria’s share of the Basin from 1 July 2019 onwards.
The Victorian Government has negotiated to achieve environmental outcomes in a way that supports regional communities by focusing on smarter use of water, rather than a specific volume of water.
Finalising the Basin Plan will give more clarity and certainty to northern Victoria’s communities, agriculture and industries.
The Murray–Darling Basin extends from north of Roma in Queensland to Goolwa in South Australia.
It covers half of Victoria and three quarters of New South Wales, generating about 40 per cent of the nation’s agricultural income.
The Basin is home to more than two million people, including about half a million Victorians.
It is home to about 30 Aboriginal nations whose spiritual connection to their land, water and environment has extended over many thousands of years.
Victoria’s share of the Basin
Victoria’s share of the 77,000 kilometres of rivers in the Basin includes part of the Murray River, and its Victorian tributaries including the Kiewa, Ovens, Broken, Goulburn, Campaspe and Loddon river systems.
The network of rivers, wetlands and floodplains is home to ancient river red gums and many plants and animals, with more than 400 high value wetlands in 30 wetland systems across Victoria’s north.
These range from large areas of floodplain, such as the Barmah and Gunbower forests, to small wetlands on farms and public land.
Northern Victoria contributes significantly to the Australian economy through irrigated and and dryland farming and associated industries.
More than half the gross value of the Australian pear, nectarine, plum and peach crop is grown in the region, and about 20 per cent of the national milk supply.
Historically, sharing the Basin’s water resources has been managed by first the 1915 River Murray Waters Agreement, and then the 1987 Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.
The Commonwealth Government assumed a greater role in Basin water management when in late 2007 it passed the Water Act 2007.
A key element of the Water Act 2007 was the establishment of the new independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
The Authority was charged with preparing a Basin Plan to integrate the management of Basin water resources, including new limits on how much water can be taken from the Basin’s surface and groundwater systems.
Victoria and the Basin Plan
The Plan was signed into law by the Commonwealth Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP, on 22 November 2012. The Plan was tabled in both Houses of Federal Parliament on 26 November 2012. Motions to disallow the Plan were defeated in the Senate on 28 November and in the House of Representatives on 29 November.
The Plan will introduce a new regime for the management of the water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin.
For information about the Plan and its implications for Victoria see this fact sheet:
For a history of developing the Plan go to the following pages:
- Timelines 2007 to 2011, 2012
- Ministerial Council response to the Basin Plan
- Victorian response to the Basin Plan