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 economic development and jobs in regional communities.

View a map of the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin (PDF, 754KB).

What's happening?

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan (Basin Plan) is the overarching plan to manage the basin as a whole and connected system. It was agreed to in 2012 by all the basin jurisdictions.

The Basin Plan sets the amount of water that can sustainably be taken from the basin each year as well as water recovery targets. The Australian Government is responsible for recovering the water to achieve the Basin Plan water recovery targets by June 2024. Read more information on the Australian Government's water recovery program.

Note: Although it underlies parts of the Murray-Darling 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 Basin Plan, each Basin State and Territory government is required to prepare a water resource plan for each catchment identified in the Basin Plan. The water resource plans are submitted to the Australian Government for accreditation against the sustainability requirements of the Basin Plan.

Queensland has 3 fully accredited water resource plans:

These water resource plans are made up of key Queensland water planning instruments including water plans, water management protocols and operations manuals, as well as healthy waters management plans and supporting scientific assessments. Find the key water planning instruments for each plan area in Queensland.

Current Queensland initiatives

Toolkit measures

The Northern Basin Toolkit measures are a suite of environmental works and measures that support improve environmental outcomes under the Basin Plan. These include:

  • management rules and arrangements to protect environmental flows
  • improved coordination and delivery of environmental water
  • environmental works to promote fish and ecosystem health
  • improved social and economic benefits for Indigenous and local communities (e.g. through hiring and purchasing).

Read more information on Northern Basin Toolkit projects.

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 is driving more transparent and sustainable rural water management across the State and will publish an annual performance report as part of our performance excellence framework.

To meet our commitments under the compact we have:

We 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. Read the decisions on the catchment water plans.

Completed Queensland initiatives

Fencing the northern riverbanks

This major project installed over 500 kilometres of waterway fencing and off-stream stock watering points. By keeping stock out, the river and surrounding habitat can regenerate. This supports the recovery and protection of native fish.

In August 2023, some of the work at a First Nations property in the Cunnamulla region was captured on video when the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water and their delivery partner Southern Queensland Landscapes visited the site.

Watch the video to see how the fencing helps the Indigenous custodians care for their country.

"We have fenced this area and it's phenomenal the bird life here, the cleanliness of the water is just beautiful, you could swim in it and drink it, it really has made a huge difference."

David Grace, Condamine.

The program was administered by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water and received $7.5 million from the Australian Government. Landholders invested an additional $3 million in the program which commenced in 2020 and was completed in 2023.

Read more information on the Fencing the Northern Riverbanks program.

Contact us

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

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