Queensland Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin is home to Australia's most significant river system, and 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 manage the water resources of the basin in a way that best meets social, economic and environmental needs.

What's happening?

Water management in the basin

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan provides the framework to manage the water resources of the basin. The aim of the plan is to ensure that water is shared between all users, including the environment, in a sustainable way. It does this by managing the basin as 1 system.

The plan was developed with input from all basin states and came into effect in November 2012. It will be reviewed and revised throughout its 7-year implementation period.

Following the completion of the Northern Basin Review, the basin plan was amended in July 2018. This includes a reduction in the water recovery target in the northern basin.

In Queensland, the plan is being implemented primarily through the review of our existing statutory instruments such as water plans and healthy waters management plans. This work is being undertaken by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and the Department of Environment and Science.

Although it underlies the basin, the underground water of the Great Artesian Basin is not considered part of the basin water resources.

Rural water management program

The Rural Water Management Program will drive more transparent, sustainable and equitable rural water management in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin region, and across the state. The program will deliver more transparent water information, stronger metering and a more robust compliance program. It will also review the regulatory framework to protect entitlements and provide equitable and secure access.

Water resource plans

The basin plan requires the preparation of water resource plans (WRPs) for each water resource plan area. These WRPs are different to Queensland's existing statutory water plans.

Queensland's WRPs include existing water planning documents, such as water plans, water management protocols and operations manuals, as well as healthy waters management plans and supporting scientific assessments.

Three state water plans are part of the plan package:

Consultation on the water resource plans has taken place through the Queensland water planning process.

The Warrego, Paroo, Bulloo and Nebine water plan and water management protocol have been revised and were accredited in June 2017.

The Condamine and Balonne and Border Rivers and Moonie water plans were released in February 2019 and will be submitted for accreditation.

Management of environmental water

Water to ensure the health of rivers, floodplains and wetlands is managed through the combined efforts of the Queensland and Australian governments.

To achieve the objectives of the basin plan, the Australian Government has acquired a portfolio of water entitlements for the environment through its buyback program. Queensland provides water for the environment through the management rules and arrangements in the water plans.

For more information, see:

Support for agricultural businesses and communities

We are implementing the Australian Government's Regional Economic Diversification Program to support economic development projects in communities most likely to be affected by the implementation of the plan.

We are also supporting irrigators to improve on-farm irrigation infrastructure through our Healthy HeadWaters program. Our Natural Resource Management Investment Program provides funding for local sustainability projects.

Contact us

Contact your local business centre for more information on Queensland's Murray-Darling Basin.

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