COAG Agrees On A Healthy Murray-Darling River System

COAG Agrees On A Healthy Murray-Darling River System

South Australia Minister for Water and the River Murray Ian Hunter

Murray-Darling Basin Ministers Make Progress Must Focus On Delivery Of 450 GL

Victor P Taffa

South Australia’s Minister for the River Murray has welcomed the commitment by Murray-Darling Basin ministers to progress key elements of the Basin Plan to protect the long-term health of the river system.

At today’s Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council in Canberra, ministers endorsed a package of credible environmental projects that will help meet the Basin Plan water recovery target and overcome physical and other constraints to delivering environmental water.

Minister Ian Hunter has urged the council to now turn its focus to delivering the final 450 gigalitres of water promised to sustain the river.

Last week at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Hobart, First Ministers endorsed an implementation plan for delivering the full Basin Plan as called for by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.

“We now have clear agreement on how to progress two of the three key elements highlighted in the COAG plan.” Minister for Water and the River Murray Ian Hunter said.

“I expect to see the Commonwealth and all states now prioritise the Basin Plan’s only remaining water recovery requirement: the final 450 GL by 2024.”

Background

Historic Basin Plan agreed in 2012 aims for water recovery outcomes equivalent to 3,200 GL p.a. by 2024. This includes the 450 GL to be recovered through efficiency measures.

This water is needed to enhance environmental benefits along the river, reduce salinity in the Coorong and Lower Lakes and increase flows to Coorong to ensure the ongoing health of the internationally renowned RAMSAR site.

COAG last week endorsed a plan that provides the agreed pathway for Basin governments to achieve all outcomes mandated under the Basin Plan.

Murray–Darling Basin Plan is a coordinated approach to water management across the Murray–Darling Basin’s four states (South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland) and the Australian Capital Territory.

Ministerial Council has commissioned consultants Ernst and Young to undertake an independent analysis of how best to recover this final 450 GL. The analysis is expected to be finished by December 2017.