Murray Darling Basin Plan

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Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The development of a Plan for the Murray-Darling Basin was initiated in 2004 and legislated as part of the Commonwealth Water Act (2007).

The aim of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was to establish new limits for extraction on rivers and groundwater basins, to ensure the future sustainability of the environment, industry and dependant regional communities.  The Plan was to provide greater balance to the social, economic and environmental demands on Murray-Darling Basin river systems and communities.  The Plan was not about establishing free flowing rivers all year round but providing governments with more tools to replicate natural cycles and re-build river ecosystems.

The GVIA advocates for the balancing of social, economic and environmental factors in water management and we believe that the Basin Plan established in 2012 weighted environmental factors above all others.  The experiences of communities in the Gwydir Valley are a testament to the impacts that over-recovery of water for the environment, via limited means, can have on irrigation dependant economies.   The socio-economic work by the MDBA supported our anecdotal claims, whereby dependant communities experienced declining population and reduced services.  Key results are:

  • For both Moree and Collarenebri, social and economic indicators declined throughout 2001-2011 including education, economic resources, disadvantage.
  • Current scenario of job losses to be 129 full-time equavalents without assessing the connectivity between towns like Moree and Collarenabri, impact of water recovery could be estimated at over 200 full-time equivalents.
  • For Moree, an 8% decrease in water availability equated to 5% impact on area planted for irrigation.
  • For Collarenebri, a 66% decrease in water availability has equated to 83% reduction in area for irrigation.

For more information, see our flier on How the MDBA Northern Review Affects You or the northern basin report including socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan by the MDBA on its website.

The current recovery target for the Gwydir Valley and our progress is presented below:

Instream requirement

Recovery Program

Total recovery

Gap remaining

Contribution to shared



Other CEWH










The GVIA believes the Gwydir Valley to be over-recovered by government in terms of the volume required to meet the Basin Plan locally, and that our focus should turn to how this water is being managed to achieve outcomes. We support governments' engaging with our community to discuss how any water over-recovered can be returned into our communities to ensure maximum benefit for future generations.

As a river system with limited hydrological connectivity with surrounding catchments, we do not support our inclusion in the Northern shared downstream components.

The GVIA believes that the outcomes from the reforms of the Basin Plan will continue to be undermined by a focus on water volumes, rather than a consideration as to other factors such as complementary environmental measures, flow timing and deliverability.

We support the #morethanflow campaign as river health is more than just water; its communities, its industries and its the whole natural environment.

Our submissions on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, its development and associated government inquires can be accessed in our Archived Submissions page.

For more information on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan see the Murray Darling Basin Authority website, including information on the impending proposed amendments to the Basin Plan.

Making Every Drop Count

Securing a future for the Gwydir Valley through Irrigated Agriculture.