Queensland Murray-Darling Basin
The Murray-Darling is Australia's most significant river system. Its basin covers parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
Along with the Australian Government and other basin states, we are working to bring the basin back to a healthier and sustainable level, while continuing to support farmers and other industries.
- Queensland’s report on Basin Plan Schedule 12, Matter 8 (The achievement of Environmental Outcomes at an asset scale) is now available.
- Queensland’s report on Basin Plan Schedule 12, Matter 12 (Progress towards the water quality targets Basin Plan Chapter 9) is now available.
- The report on the Derivation of long-term diversion limit equivalent factors for the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin (PDF, 426KB) is now available.
- The Queensland annual environmental watering priorities for 2020-21 have been released for Border Rivers and Moonie, Condamine and Balonne and Warrego, Paroo, Nebine.
- 30 Sep 2019: The Rural Water Management Program: Implementation of the independent audit of Queensland non-urban water measurement and compliance government response performance review report (PDF, 1.2MB) has been released.
- 26 Jul 2019: The Australian Government announced a $1.5 billion Water Efficiency Program for water saving projects and water infrastructure upgrades across the basin. The program's guidelines for Queensland registrations apply.
Murray-Darling Basin Plan
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the overarching plan to manage the basin as a whole connected system. It was agreed to in 2012 by all the basin states and the federal government.
The plan sets the amount of water that can be taken from the basin each year, as well as water recovery targets - a portion of existing water entitlements to be recovered to improve the health of the basin. A key strategy for this is the Australian Government's water recovery program.
Note: Although it underlies the basin, the underground water of the Great Artesian Basin is not considered part of the basin water resources.
Implementation of the plan in Queensland
Under the plan, each water resource plan area prepares a water resource plan (WRP) and submits it for accreditation. Queensland has submitted 3 WRP packages:
- Condamine and Balonne (accredited September 2019)
- Border Rivers and Moonie (accredited September 2019)
- Warrego, Paroo and Nebine (accredited June 2017).
These packages consist of our existing water planning document, such as water plans, water management protocols and operations manuals, as well as healthy waters management plans and supporting scientific assessments.
All water plans include unallocated water reserves which can be made available for future use without compromising the security of existing users or the environmental values within a catchment.
These reserves include Indigenous water reserves held for projects that advance the social and economic aspirations of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.
We have also developed long-term environmental watering plans that provide objectives and strategies to manage water for the environment.
Current Queensland initiatives
In 2018, the plan was amended following the Northern Basin Review. The amendments reduced Queensland's water extraction target by 36GL a year.
The review also recommended a number of 'toolkit' measures to improve environmental outcomes and reduce social and economic impacts. These include:
- management rules and arrangements to protect environmental flows
- environmental works and measures to promote fish health
- improved social and economic benefits for Indigenous and local communities (e.g. through hiring and purchasing).
Murray-Darling Compliance Compact
We are undertaking a program of improvements to the management, measurement and reporting of rural water resources, which will help us deliver our commitments under the Murray-Darling Compliance Compact.
The Rural Water Futures program will deliver better measurement and compliance systems and processes and drive more transparent water management across the state.
To meet our commitments under the compact we have:
- developed the compliance framework and strategy to guide how we consistently and professionally manage compliance
- reported on the compliance and enforcement actions that Queensland has taken over the past three years to respond to non-compliance issues in the Murray-Darling Basin catchment area. The reports are available here:
We have also developed a Reporting framework for significant water management decisions involving discretion (PDF, 150KB).
The framework sets out how we will report on these decisions, such as notices that limit the taking of water in times of drought. You can find these decisions on the catchment water plan pages.
Contact your local business centre for more information on Queensland's Murray-Darling Basin.
Also consider ...
- Find out more about Indigenous water reserves
- Get streamflow and groundwater data from the Queensland Government Water monitoring information portal.
- Access maps and water data using Queensland Globe or the water entitlement viewer.
- Read about regional natural resources management projects.
- Find out about river improvement trusts and their work.
- View price information for permanent water allocation trades and relocatable water licences.
- Read about water planning and learn where to find information in the new water planning documents.
- Read the Water planning science plan 2020-2030 to find out how we use science to develop water plans and improve water planning.
- Last reviewed: 4 May 2021
- Last updated: 5 Oct 2021