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.

What's happening?

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:

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

Toolkit measures

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:

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 us

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

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