Commonwealth Coat of Arms of Australia

Basin Plan 2012

made under subparagraph 44(3)(b)(i) of the

Water Act 2007

Compilation No. 9

Compilation date: 8 December 2023

Includes amendments:  Act No. 111, 2023

Registered: 2 February 2024

About this compilation

This compilation

This is a compilation of the Basin Plan 2012 that shows the text of the law as amended and in force on 8 December 2023 (the compilation date).

The notes at the end of this compilation (the endnotes) include information about amending laws and the amendment history of provisions of the compiled law.

Uncommenced amendments

The effect of uncommenced amendments is not shown in the text of the compiled law. Any uncommenced amendments affecting the law are accessible on the Register (www.legislation.gov.au). The details of amendments made up to, but not commenced at, the compilation date are underlined in the endnotes. For more information on any uncommenced amendments, see the Register for the compiled law.

Application, saving and transitional provisions for provisions and amendments

If the operation of a provision or amendment of the compiled law is affected by an application, saving or transitional provision that is not included in this compilation, details are included in the endnotes.

Editorial changes

For more information about any editorial changes made in this compilation, see the endnotes.

Modifications

If the compiled law is modified by another law, the compiled law operates as modified but the modification does not amend the text of the law. Accordingly, this compilation does not show the text of the compiled law as modified. For more information on any modifications, see the Register for the compiled law.

Selfrepealing provisions

If a provision of the compiled law has been repealed in accordance with a provision of the law, details are included in the endnotes.

 

 

 

Acknowledgement of the Traditional Owners of the MurrayDarling Basin

The MurrayDarling Basin Authority acknowledges and pays its respect to the Traditional Owners and their Nations of the MurrayDarling Basin. The contributions of earlier generations, including the Elders, who have fought for their rights in natural resource management are also valued and respected.

 

The Authority recognises and acknowledges that the Traditional Owners and their Nations in the MurrayDarling Basin have a deep cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic connection to their lands and waters. The Authority understands the need for recognition of Traditional Owner knowledge and cultural values in natural resource management associated with the Basin. Further research is required to assist in understanding and providing for cultural flows. The Authority supports the belief of the Northern MurrayDarling Basin Aboriginal Nations and the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations that cultural flows will provide beneficial outcomes for Traditional Owners.

 

The approach of Traditional Owners to caring for the natural landscape, including water, can be expressed in the words of Ngarrindjeri elder Tom Trevorrow: “our traditional management plan was don’t be greedy, don’t take any more than you need and respect everything around you. That’s the management plan—it’s such a simple management plan, but so hard for people to carry out.”[1]

 

This traditional philosophy is widely held by Traditional Owners and respected and supported by the MurrayDarling Basin Authority.

Contents

Chapter 1—Introduction

Part 1—Preliminary

1.01 Name of instrument

1.02 Making and effect of Basin Plan

1.03 Application of Basin Plan

Part 2—Structure of the Basin Plan

1.05 Simplified outline

Part 3—Interpretation

1.06 Where terms are defined

1.07 Definitions

1.08 Basin Plan not to be inconsistent with Snowy Water Licence

1.09 Construction of provisions imposing obligations on States

1.10 Reasonable excuse for not producing or providing information etc

1.11 Avoidance of double counting of forms of take

Part 4—Agreements with regard to jurisdictional implementation obligations

1.12 Agreements with regard to jurisdictional implementation obligations

Chapter 2—Basin water resources and the context for their use

2.01 Description located in Schedule 1

Chapter 3—Water resource plan areas and water accounting periods

Part 1—Preliminary

3.01 Simplified outline

3.02 Time at which area becomes water resource plan area

3.03 Datasets for identification of water resource plan areas

3.04 Flexibility relating to boundaries of water resource plans

Part 2—Water resource plan areas

3.05 Water resource plan areassurface water

3.06 Water resource plan areas—groundwater

3.07 Water resource plan areas—surface water and groundwater

Part 3—Water accounting periods

3.08 Water accounting period for each water resource plan area

Chapter 4—Identification and management of risks to Basin water resources

Part 1—Preliminary

4.01 Simplified outline

Part 2—Risks and strategies to address risks

4.02 Risks to condition, or continued availability, of Basin water resources, and consequential risks

4.03 Strategies to manage, or address, identified risks

4.04 Authority may publish guidelines

Chapter 5—Management objectives and outcomes to be achieved by Basin Plan

5.01 Simplified outline

5.02 Objectives and outcome for Basin Plan as a whole

5.03 Objectives and outcome in relation to environmental outcomes

5.04 Objective and outcome in relation to water quality and salinity

5.05 Objective and outcomes in relation to longterm average sustainable diversion limits

5.06 Objective and outcome for operation of the SDL adjustment mechanism

5.07 Objectives and outcome in relation to trading in the water market

Chapter 6—Water that can be taken

Part 1—Preliminary

6.01 Simplified outline

Part 2—Longterm average sustainable diversion limits

Division 1—Identification of SDL resource units

6.02 Identification of surface water SDL resource units

6.03 Identification of groundwater SDL resource units

Division 2—Longterm average sustainable diversion limits

6.04 Longterm average sustainable diversion limits

6.05 SDL resource unit shared reduction amount

6.05A SDL adjustment amount

6.06 Reviews of the Basin Plan

Part 3—Temporary diversion provision

6.07 Temporary diversion provision

Part 4—Method for determining compliance with longterm annual diversion limit

Division 1—Preliminary

6.08 Register of take

6.08A Content of action plan

6.08B Reporting on action plan under the Basin Plan

6.08C Content of report

Division 1A—Oneoff adjustment to cumulative balances for surface water SDL resource units

6.08D Determining oneoff adjustment to cumulative balances from 1 July 2019

6.08E Step 1—Calculation of annual permitted take and annual actual take for oneoff adjustment

6.08F Step 2—Calculate and record the oneoff adjustment

6.08G How to calculate the annual permitted take and the annual actual take

Division 2—Method for determining compliance—surface water

6.09 Method for determining compliance with longterm annual diversion limit—surface water

6.10 Step 1—Calculation of annual permitted take and annual actual take

6.11 Step 2—Record difference between annual actual take and annual permitted take

6.12 Step 3—Determine whether there is noncompliance

Division 3—Method for determining compliance—groundwater

6.12A Method for determining compliance with longterm annual diversion limit—groundwater

6.12B Step 1—Calculation of annual permitted take and annual actual take

6.12C Step 2—Determine whether there is noncompliance

Part 5—Allocation of risks in relation to reductions in water availability

6.13 Risks arising from reduction in diversion limits

6.14 Risks arising from other changes to the Basin Plan

Chapter 7—Adjustment of SDLs

Part 1—Preliminary

7.01 Simplified outline

7.02 Interpretation

7.03 Meaning of supply measure

7.04 Meaning of efficiency measure

7.05 Consultation with Basin Officials Committee

7.06 Public consultation

7.07 Combined proposals

7.08 Constraints management strategy

7.08A Constraints relaxation implementation roadmap

7.08B Minister may specify additional HEW entitlements

Part 2—Adjustment of surface water SDLs

Division 1—Objective

7.09 Objective

Division 2—When Authority must propose appropriate adjustments

7.10 Initial adjustments to be proposed in 2017

7.11 Reconciliation adjustments to be proposed in 2026

Division 3—Notification and recording of relevant matters

7.12 Notification of measures relevant to adjustment of SDLs

7.13 Register of measures

Division 4—Determining amounts of adjustments

7.14 Preliminary

7.14A Shared reduction amounts to be applied in determining adjustments

7.15 Contribution to adjustments from supply measures

7.16 Contribution to adjustments from efficiency measures

7.16A Contribution to adjustments from additional HEW entitlements

7.17 Ensuring that criteria for amounts of adjustments are satisfied

7.18 Apportionment of supply contribution to affected units

7.19 Overall limitation on size of adjustment amounts

7.20 Final determination of amounts in 2017

7.21 Final determination of amounts in 2026

Part 4—Adjustments relating to groundwater

7.24 Objective

7.25 Adjustments relating to groundwater

7.26 Overall limitation on size of groundwater adjustment amounts

Part 5—Independent audit of calculations

7.27 Independent audit of Authority’s calculations

Chapter 8—Environmental watering plan

Part 1—Preliminary

8.01 Simplified outline

8.02 Purpose of Chapter

8.03 Effect of environmental watering plan on Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

Part 2—Overall environmental objectives for waterdependent ecosystems

8.04 Overall environmental objectives

8.05 Protection and restoration of waterdependent ecosystems

8.06 Protection and restoration of ecosystem functions of waterdependent ecosystems

8.07 Ensuring waterdependent ecosystems are resilient to climate change and other risks and threats

Part 3—Targets by which to measure progress towards objectives

8.08 Targets by which to measure progress towards achieving objectives

8.09 Assessment of progress towards objectives in Part 2

Part 4—Environmental management framework

Division 1—Preliminary

8.10 Outline of this Part

8.11 Objectives of environmental management framework

8.12 Interpretation

Division 2—Basinwide environmental watering strategy

8.13 Obligation to prepare Basinwide environmental watering strategy

8.14 Content of the Basinwide environmental watering strategy

8.15 Preparation of Basinwide environmental watering strategy

8.16 Publication of Basinwide environmental watering strategy

8.17 Review and update of Basinwide environmental watering strategy

Division 3—Longterm watering plans

8.18 Obligation to prepare longterm watering plans

8.19 Content of longterm watering plans

8.20 Preparation of longterm watering plans

8.21 Provision and publication of longterm watering plans

8.22 Review and update of longterm watering plans

Division 4—Annual environmental watering priorities

8.23 Obligation to identify annual environmental watering priorities

8.24 Content of annual environmental watering priorities

8.25 Preparation of annual environmental watering priorities

8.26 Provision of annual environmental watering priorities

Division 5—Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.27 Obligation to prepare Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.28 Content of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.29 Preparation of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.30 Publication of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.31 Review and update of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Division 6—Principles to be applied in environmental watering

Subdivision A—Principles to be applied in environmental watering

8.32 Outline of Subdivision

8.33 Principle 1—Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.34 Principle 2—Consistency with the objectives in Part 2

8.35 Principle 3—Maximising environmental benefits

8.36 Principle 4—Risks

8.37 Principle 5—Cost of environmental watering

8.38 Principle 6—Apply the precautionary principle

8.39 Principle 7—Working effectively with local communities

8.40 Principle 8—Adaptive management

8.41 Principle 9—Relevant international agreements

8.42 Principle 10—Other management and operational practices

8.43 Principle 11—Management of water for consumptive use

Subdivision B—Reporting in relation to Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.44 Reporting required where Basin annual environmental watering priorities not followed

Division 7—Planning for recovery of additional environmental water

8.45 Outline of Division

8.46 Planning for the recovery of additional environmental water

8.47 Reporting required where Authority’s recommendations not followed

Part 5—Methods for identifying environmental assets and ecosystem functions and their environmental watering requirements

8.48 Environmental assets and ecosystem functions database

8.49 Method for identifying environmental assets and their environmental watering requirements

8.50 Method for identifying ecosystem functions that require environmental watering and their environmental watering requirements

8.51 Determination of the environmental watering requirements of environmental assets and ecosystem functions

Part 6—Principles and method to determine priorities for applying environmental water

Division 1—Principles to be applied to determine priorities

8.52 Outline of Division

8.53 Principle 1—Consistency with principles of ecologically sustainable development and international agreements

8.54 Principle 2—Consistency with objectives

8.55 Principle 3—Flexibility and responsiveness

8.56 Principle 4—Condition of environmental assets and ecosystem functions

8.57 Principle 5—Likely effectiveness and related matters

8.58 Principle 6—Risks and related matters

8.59 Principle 7—Robust and transparent decisions

Division 2—Method to be used to determine priorities

8.60 How to determine priorities for applying environmental water

8.61 Determining the resource availability scenario

8.62 Seasonal, operational and management considerations

Chapter 9—Water quality and salinity management plan

Part 1—Preliminary

9.01 Simplified outline

Part 2—Key causes of water quality degradation in MurrayDarling Basin

9.02 Types of water quality degradation and their key causes

Part 3—Water quality objectives for Basin water resources

9.03 Outline of this Part

9.04 Objectives for waterdependent ecosystems

9.05 Objectives for raw water for treatment for human consumption

9.06 Objective for irrigation water

9.07 Objective for recreational water quality

9.08 Objective to maintain good levels of water quality

9.09 Salt export objective

Part 4—Water quality targets

Division 1—Preliminary

9.10 Outline of this Part and purpose of targets

9.11 Failing to achieve a target

9.12 Most stringent target applies

9.13 Guidelines

Division 2—Targets for managing water flows

9.14 Targets for managing water flows

Division 3—Water quality targets for water resource plans

9.15 Purpose of Division

9.16 Water quality targets for fresh waterdependent ecosystems

9.17 Water quality targets for irrigation water

9.18 Water quality targets for recreational water

Division 4—Salinity targets for the purposes of longterm salinity planning and management

9.19 Salinity targets

Chapter 10—Water resource plan requirements

Part 1—Preliminary

10.01 Simplified outline

Part 2—Identification of water resource plan area and other matters

10.02 Identification of water resource plan area and water resources

10.03 Identification of SDL resource units and water resources

10.04 Form of water resource plan

10.05 Regard to other water resources

10.06 Matters relating to requirements of Chapter

10.07 Consultation to be demonstrated

Part 3—Incorporation and application of longterm annual diversion limit

Division 1—Water access rights

10.08 Water access rights must be identified

10.09 Identification of planned environmental water and register of held environmental water

Division 2—Take for consumptive use

10.10 Annual determinations of water permitted to be taken

10.11 Rules for take, including water allocation rules

10.12 Matters relating to accounting for water

10.13 Limits on certain forms of take

10.14 Effects, and potential effects, on water resources of the water resource plan area

Division 3—Actual take

10.15 Determination of actual take must be specified

Part 4—The sustainable use and management of water resources

Division 1—Sustainable use and management

10.16 Sustainable use and management of water resources

Division 2—Surface water

10.17 Priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions

Division 3—Groundwater

10.18 Priority environmental assets dependent on groundwater

10.19 Groundwater and surface water connections

10.20 Productive base of groundwater

10.21 Additional requirements for Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB and GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units

Division 4—How requirements have been met

10.22 Description of how requirements have been met

Part 5—Interception activities

10.23 Listing types of interception activity

10.24 Monitoring impact of interception activities

10.25 Actions to be taken

Part 6—Planning for environmental watering

10.26 Planning for environmental watering

10.27 Enabling environmental watering between connected water resources

10.28 No net reduction in the protection of planned environmental water

Part 7—Water quality objectives

Division 1—Requirement for water quality management plan

10.29 Water resource plan to include WQM Plan

Division 2—Surface water

10.30 WQM Plan to identify key causes of water quality degradation

10.31 Measures addressing risks arising from water quality degradation

10.32 WQM Plan to identify water quality target values

10.33 WQM Plan to identify measures

10.34 WQM Plan to identify locations of targets for irrigation water

10.35 Impact of WQM Plan on another Basin State

Division 3—Groundwater

10.35A WQM Plan to identify key causes of water quality degradation

10.35B WQM Plan to identify water quality target values

10.35C Consideration to be given to rules or measures

10.35D Additional requirement for Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB and GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units

Part 8—Trade of water access rights

10.36 Application of Part

10.37 Circumstances in which conditions in section 12.24 are met

10.38 Circumstances in which conditions in section 12.25 are met

10.39 Circumstances in which conditions in section 12.26 are met

Part 9—Approaches to addressing risks to water resources

10.40 Definitions

10.41 Risk identification and assessment methodology

10.42 Description of risks

10.43 Strategies for addressing risks

Part 10—Measuring and monitoring

10.44 Information relating to measuring take—water access rights

10.45 Supporting measuring

10.46 Monitoring water resources

Part 11—Reviews of water resource plans

10.47 Review of water resource plans

10.47A  Additional requirements for Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB and GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units

10.48 Amendment of water resource plan

Part 12—Information used to prepare water resource plan

10.49 Best available information

10.50 Methods used to develop water resource plan

Part 13—Extreme events

10.51 Measures in response to extreme events

Part 14—Indigenous values and uses

10.52 Objectives and outcomes based on Indigenous values and uses

10.53 Consultation and preparation of water resource plan

10.54 Cultural flows

10.55 Retention of current protection

Chapter 11—Critical human water needs

Part 1—Preliminary

11.01 Simplified outline

11.02 Definitions

Part 2—Water required to meet critical human water needs

11.03 Amount of water required to meet critical human water needs (Act paragraph 86B(1)(a))

11.04 Conveyance water required to deliver water for critical human water needs (Act paragraph 86B(1)(b))

11.05 Water quality and salinity trigger points (Act paragraph 86B(1)(c))

Part 3—Monitoring, assessment and risk management

11.06 Process for assessing inflow prediction (Act paragraph 86C(1)(b))

11.07 Process for managing risks to critical human water needs associated with inflow prediction (Act paragraph 86C(1)(b))

11.08 Risk management approach for interannual planning (Act paragraph 86C(1)(c))

Part 4—Tier 2 water sharing arrangements

Division 1—When Tier 2 water sharing arrangements apply

11.09 Commencement of Tier 2 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86D(1)(a))

11.10 Cessation of Tier 2 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86D(1)(b))

Division 2—Tier 2 reserves policy

11.11 Reserves policy (Act paragraph 86D(1)(c))

11.12 Meeting the annual shortfall in conveyance water

11.13 Application of the conveyance reserve provisions of the Agreement

11.14 Arrangements for carrying water over in storage

Part 5—Tier 3 water sharing arrangements

11.15 Commencement of Tier 3 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86E(1)(a))

11.16 Cessation of Tier 3 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86E(1)(b))

Chapter 12—Water trading rules

Part 1—Preliminary

12.01 Simplified outline

12.02 Application of Chapter to certain water access rights

12.03 Water delivery rights to which this Chapter applies

12.04 Reference to a trade to, from or between places

12.05 Recovery of loss or damage

Part 2—Restrictions on trade of tradeable water rights

Division 1—Trade of tradeable water rights

Subdivision A—All water resources—right to trade free of certain restrictions

12.06 Separate rights

12.07 Class of persons

12.08 Purpose for which water is used

12.09 Take and use of water after a trade

12.10 Use outside MurrayDarling Basin

12.11 Trade of water allocation which has been carried over

12.12 Access to carryover for traded water access rights

12.13 Overallocation

12.14 Level of use of water access right

12.15 Trade must not be made conditional on water delivery right

Subdivision B—Additional rules relating to surface water

12.16 Free trade of surface water

12.18 Restrictions allowable for physical or environmental reasons

12.19 Basin States to notify the InspectorGeneral of restrictions

12.20 Basin State may request the InspectorGeneral to make declaration

12.21 Exchange rates not to be used in a regulated system

12.22 InspectorGeneral may permit exchange rates in limited circumstances

12.23 Restrictions on delivery of water under a tagged water access entitlement established on or after 22 October 2010

Subdivision C—Additional rules relating to groundwater

12.24 Trade within a groundwater SDL resource unit

12.25 Trade between groundwater SDL resource units

12.26 Trade between groundwater and surface water

Subdivision D—Miscellaneous

12.27 Restrictions allowable for breaches of State water management law

Division 2—Trade of water delivery rights

12.28 No unreasonable restriction of trade of water delivery rights

12.29 When restriction of trade is reasonable

12.30 Irrigation infrastructure operator must give reasons for restricting trade of water delivery right

Part 3—Information about water delivery rights and irrigation rights

Division 1—General

12.31 Object of this Part

Division 2—Water delivery rights to be specified by irrigation infrastructure operators

12.32 Obligation on irrigation infrastructure operator to specify water delivery rights and give notice

12.33 Obligation on irrigation infrastructure operator to give notice if water delivery right is changed

Division 3—Irrigation rights to be specified by irrigation infrastructure operators

12.34 Obligation on irrigation infrastructure operator to specify irrigation rights and give notice

12.35 Obligation on irrigation infrastructure operator to give notice if irrigation right is changed

Part 4—Approval processes for trade of water access rights

Division 1—General

12.36 Object of this Part

Division 2—Approval authority’s other activities

12.37 Approval authority must disclose interest before trade occurs

12.38 Approval authority must disclose if it has been a party to a trade

12.39 Approval authority to give reasons for restricting trade

Part 5—Information and reporting requirements

Division 1—General

12.40 Object of this Part

12.41 Authority to publish information it is given under this Part

Division 2—Information about water access rights

12.42 Water access rights to which this Division applies

12.43 Information about water access rights to be made available

12.44 Types of information about water access rights

Division 3—Trading rules to be made available

12.45 Interpretation

12.46 Basin State must make trading rules available

12.47 Irrigation infrastructure operator must make trading rules available

Division 4—Trading prices to be made available

12.48 Price of trade to be reported

Division 5—Information to be made available

12.49 Interpretation

12.50 Water announcements must be made generally available

12.51 Person not to trade if aware of water announcement before it is made generally available

12.52 Chinese wall arrangements for agencies

Chapter 13—Program for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the Basin Plan

Part 1—Preliminary

13.01 Simplified outline

13.02 Personal information not required

Part 2—Principles to be applied

13.03 Principles of responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the Basin Plan

13.04 Other principles to be applied in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the Basin Plan

Part 3—Evaluations, reviews and assessments

Division 1—Evaluation of Basin Plan

13.05 Purpose of evaluation

13.06 Key evaluation questions

Division 2—Reviews of water quality targets, environmental watering plan and social and economic impacts

13.07 Purpose of reviews

13.08 Reviews of the water quality and salinity management plan targets

13.09 Reviews of the environmental watering plan

13.09A  Reviews of the social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan

Division 4—Assessments of Basin condition

13.11 Periodic assessments of Basin condition

Division 5—Evaluations, reviews and audits to inform changes to, and implementation of, Basin Plan

13.12 Evaluations, reviews and audits to inform changes to, and implementation of, Basin Plan

Part 4—Reporting requirements

13.13 Definitions

13.14 Reporting requirements for Basin States, the Department etc

13.15 Agreements in relation to reporting requirements

13.16 Guidelines for reporting requirements

Part 5—Publication of information

13.17 Publication of monitoring information

13.18 Publication of evaluation findings and recommendations

13.19 Publication of findings and recommendations arising from reviews

13.21 Publication of findings of assessments

13.22 Publication of reports produced under Part 4

Part 6—Improving monitoring, evaluation and reporting capabilities

13.23 Improving monitoring, evaluation and reporting capabilities

Schedule 1—Basin water resources and the context for their use

Schedule 2—Matters relating to surface water SDL resource units

Schedule 3—BDLs for surface water SDL resource units

Schedule 4—Matters relating to groundwater SDL resource units

Schedule 5—Enhanced environmental outcomes referred to in paragraph 7.09(e)

Schedule 6—Default method for calculation of supply contribution

Part 1—Description

S6.01 Simplified outline

Part 2—Method

S6.02 Benchmark model

S6.03 Indicator sites and regions that are to be used

S6.04 Things that are to be measured or assessed

S6.05 Ecological elements of the scoring method

S6.06 How the method is to be applied

S6.07 Limits of changes in score or outcomes

Schedule 6A—Calculation of SDL adjustment amounts

Part 1—Preliminary

S6A.01 Simplified outline of this Schedule

S6A.02 Interpretation

S6A.03 Proposed plan area limits and proposed Basin limit

Part 2—Calculation of SDL adjustment amount

S6A.04 Net effect of the total supply contribution and the total efficiency contribution

S6A.05 Calculation of SDL adjustment amounts—net effect greater than 543 GL per year

S6A.06 Calculation of SDL adjustment amounts—net effect less than or equal to 543 GL per year

Schedule 7—Targets to measure progress towards objectives

Schedule 8—Criteria for identifying an environmental asset

Schedule 9—Criteria for identifying an ecosystem function

Schedule 10—Key causes of water quality degradation

Schedule 11—Target values for target application zones

Schedule 12—Matters for evaluation and reporting requirements

Endnotes

Endnote 1—About the endnotes

Endnote 2—Abbreviation key

Endnote 3—Legislation history

Endnote 4—Amendment history

Endnote 5—Editorial changes

Chapter 1—Introduction

Part 1—Preliminary

1.01 Name of instrument

This instrument is the Basin Plan 2012.

1.02 Making and effect of Basin Plan

(1) The Basin Plan is made under Part 2 of the Act.

(2) The Basin Plan has the effect provided for in sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 86G and 86H of the Act.

1.03 Application of Basin Plan

The Basin Plan applies to Basin water resources.

Note: See section 4 of the Act for the meaning of Basin water resources.

Part 2—Structure of the Basin Plan

1.05 Simplified outline

(1) The following table provides a summary of the Basin Plan:

summary of the Basin Plan

 

Title

Subject matter

Chapter 1

Introduction

The structure of the Basin Plan, definitions of terms used in the Plan as well as agreements with regard to jurisdictional implementation obligations.

Chapter 2

Basin water resources and the context for their use

The description of Basin water resources and the context in which those resources are used (item 1 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act). The details are set out in Schedule 1.

Chapter 3

Water resource plan areas and water accounting periods

The identification of the particular areas that are to be water resource plan areas and the periods that are to be the water accounting periods for each of those areas (item 2 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Chapter 4

Identification and management of risks to Basin water resources

The identification of the risks to the condition, or continued availability, of the Basin water resources and the strategies to be adopted to manage, or address, those risks (items 3 and 5 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Chapter 5

Management objectives and outcomes to be achieved by the Basin Plan

The management objectives and outcomes to be achieved by the Basin Plan (item 4 of the table to subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Chapter 6

Water that can be taken

The longterm average sustainable diversion limits, the temporary diversion provisions, and the method for determining whether the longterm annual diversion limit has been complied with and the extent of any failure to comply with that limit (items 6, 7 and 8 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act). This Chapter also includes matters required by Division 4 of Part 2 of the Act which relate to the allocation of risks in relation to reductions in water availability, and provisions for the Authority to conduct research and investigations.

Chapter 7

Adjustment of SDLs

The Authority may propose adjustments to the longterm average sustainable diversion limits under section 23A of the Act. These may be made by amendment to the Basin Plan under section 23B of the Act. The Chapter also provides for a constraints management strategy.

Chapter 8

Environmental watering plan

The plan for the protection and restoration of the wetlands and other environmental assets of the MurrayDarling Basin; for the protection of biodiversity dependent on Basin water resources; and for achieving other environmental outcomes for the MurrayDarling Basin (item 9 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Chapter 9

Water quality and salinity management plan

Water quality and salinity objectives, water quality targets for planning of water flows, water quality targets that apply to the preparation of the water resource plans, and water quality targets for the purposes of longterm salinity planning and management (item 10 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act). This Chapter also includes the key causes of water quality degradation in the MurrayDarling Basin.

Chapter 10

Water resource plan requirements

The requirements that a water resource plan must comply with for it to be accredited or adopted under Division 2 of Part 2 of the Act (item 11 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Chapter 11

Critical human water needs

The arrangements for meeting critical human water needs (Part 2A of the Act).

Chapter 12

Water trading rules

The rules for the trading of tradeable water rights in relation to Basin water resources (item 12 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Chapter 13

Program for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the Basin Plan

The program that will be used to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the Basin Plan. Specific Commonwealth and Basin State reporting requirements are also included (item 13 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Schedule 1

Basin water resources and the context for their use

The description of Basin water resources and the context in which those resources are used.

Schedule 2

Matters relating to surface water SDL resource units

Surface water SDL resource units and longterm average sustainable diversion limits for those units.

Schedule 3

BDLs for surface water SDL resource units

The BDL for each surface water SDL resource unit.

Schedule 4

Matters relating to groundwater SDL resource units

Groundwater SDL resource units; groundwater covered by those units; BDLs for those units; and longterm average sustainable diversion limits for those units.

Schedule 5

Enhanced environmental outcomes referred to in paragraph 7.09(e)

Outcomes that will be pursued under the Commonwealth’s program to increase the volume of water resources available for environmental use by 450 GL per year.

Schedule 6

Default method for calculation of supply contribution

Provisions for quantifying supply adjustments for Part 2 of Chapter 7.

Schedule 6A

Calculation of SDL adjustment amounts

Provisions for calculating SDL adjustment amounts for Part 2 of Chapter 6.

Schedule 7

Targets to measure progress towards objectives

Targets by which to measure progress towards achieving the environmental objectives specified in Part 2 of Chapter 8.

Schedule 8

Criteria for identifying an environmental asset

Criteria for identifying an environmental asset.

Schedule 9

Criteria for identifying an ecosystem function

Criteria for identifying an ecosystem function.

Schedule 10

Key causes of water quality degradation

Key causes of water quality degradation.

Schedule 11

Target values for target application zones

Water quality targets that apply for target application zones.

Schedule 12

Matters for evaluation and reporting requirements

Matters relating to the objectives and outcomes against which the effectiveness of the Basin Plan will be evaluated and on which the Authority, the Basin States, the Department and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder are required to report.

 

(2) Most Chapters are divided into Parts, Divisions and Subdivisions within the Chapter and these are made up of sections.

(3) Each section is numbered with the number before the decimal point referring to the Chapter number (for example, section 5.04 is the fourth section in Chapter 5).

Part 3—Interpretation

1.06 Where terms are defined

Many terms used in the Basin Plan have special meanings. Some are defined in the Act, and have the same meaning in the Basin Plan unless it provides otherwise. See also the list of definitions in section 1.07.

Note: See section 13 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.

1.07 Definitions

(1) In the Basin Plan:

Act means the Water Act 2007.

adaptive management is taken to include the following steps:

(a) setting clear objectives;

(b) linking knowledge (including local knowledge), management, evaluation and feedback over a period of time;

(c) identifying and testing uncertainties;

(d) using management as a tool to learn about the relevant system and change its management;

(e) improving knowledge;

(f) having regard to the social, economic and technical aspects of management.

advance means an advance determined by the Authority in accordance with clause 102C of the Agreement or clause 7 of Schedule H to the Agreement.

Note: Some provisions of the Basin Plan refer explicitly to only one of these 2 kinds of advances.

ADWG means the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines published by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council in 2011.

Agreement means the MurrayDarling Basin Agreement, as amended from time to time in accordance with that agreement and as set out in Schedule 1 to the Act.

Note: This is the same as the definition in section 18A of the Act. Other terms used in the Act have the same meaning in the Basin Plan unless the Basin Plan otherwise provides: see section 1.06.

allocation announcement means an announcement specifying the volume of water allocated to water access entitlements.

Note: An announcement could increase, decrease or leave unchanged the quantity of water allocated.

annual actual take:

(a) for a surface water SDL resource unit, has the meaning given by section 6.10; and

(b) for a groundwater SDL resource unit, has the meaning given by section 6.12B.

annual environmental watering priorities has the meaning given by section 8.23.

annual permitted take:

(a) for a surface water SDL resource unit, has the meaning given by section 6.10; and

(b) for a groundwater SDL resource unit, has the meaning given by section 6.12B.

ANZECC Guidelines means the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality published by the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand in 2000.

apportioned supply contribution has the meaning given by subsection S6A.02(1) of Schedule 6A.

approval authority, in relation to the proposed trade of a water access right, means a person whose approval is required under State water management law for the trade to proceed.

asset class means a class of environmental asset.

Example:  Floodplain, riparian forest or billabong.

basic right means any of the following:

(a) a right under State water management law to take water for domestic or stock purposes;

(b) a harvestable right under the Water Management Act 2000 of New South Wales;

(c) a native title right.

Basin annual environmental watering priorities has the meaning given by section 8.27.

Basinwide environmental watering strategy has the meaning given by section 8.13.

BDL (baseline diversion limit) means the baseline limit of take from an SDL resource unit. This baseline limit is:

(a) for a surface water SDL resource unit—the quantity of water calculated in accordance with column 2 of the table in Schedule 3 for that SDL resource unit; and

(b) for a groundwater SDL resource unit—the quantity of water specified in column 3 of the table in Schedule 4 for that SDL resource unit.

carryover announcement means an announcement made by a Basin State as to when water allocations covered by a carryover arrangement may be taken.

carryover arrangement means an arrangement which allows a water access right holder to retain water allocations not taken in a water accounting period for possible take in the next water accounting period.

commercial plantation means an area of land on which perennial woody plants are planted primarily for commercial purposes (other than the production of food).

Note: Some examples of commercial purposes are the production of timber, woodchip, oil or biofuel, or the commercial exploitation of the carbon sequestration capacity of the plants.

conveyance reserve has the meaning given by clause 2 of the Agreement.

current efficiency contribution has the meaning given by subsection S6A.02(1) of Schedule 6A.

data includes metadata.

deep drainage means the volume of water that moves below the root zone, whether or not the water enters the saturated zone and becomes recharge to the groundwater system.

Department means the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

dewatering means controlling or lowering the level of groundwater within an aquifer.

EC means electrical conductivity, expressed in microsiemens per centimetre (µS/cm).

ecological objective means an objective for the protection, and if necessary restoration, of a priority environmental asset or priority ecosystem function.

ecological target means a target that must be met in order to achieve an ecological objective.

environmental assets and ecosystem functions database has the meaning given by section 8.48.

environmental water recovery recommendations has the meaning given by section 8.46.

environmental watering requirements means the environmental watering requirements of a priority environmental asset or priority ecosystem function, as the case may be, identified using the methods set out in Part 5 of Chapter 8.

floodplain harvesting means the taking of water from a floodplain, including after it leaves a watercourse during a flood.

form of take means any of the following forms of take:

(a) take from a watercourse;

(b) take from a regulated river;

(c) take by floodplain harvesting;

(d) take by runoff dams;

(e) net take by commercial plantations;

(f) take from groundwater;

(g) take under basic rights.

generally available: information is generally available if it has been published in a manner that will, or will be likely to, bring it to the attention of interested members of the public.

groundwater means:

(a) water occurring naturally below ground level (whether in an aquifer or otherwise); or

(b) water occurring at a place below ground that has been pumped, diverted or released to that place for the purpose of being stored there;

but does not include water held in underground tanks, pipes or other works.

groundwater resource means a Basin water resource consisting of:

(a) groundwater; or

(b) an aquifer (whether or not it has water in it).

groundwater SDL resource unit has the meaning given by section 6.03.

Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water means the Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water published by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 2008.

historical climate conditions means the climatic conditions for the period July 1895 to June 2009 represented by the best available records of hydrological and meteorological information for that period.

hydraulic connectivity means the ease with which, or the rate at which, groundwater moves:

(a) within an aquifer; or

(b) between aquifers; or

(c) between aquifers and the adjacent or overlying surface water system.

hydrologic connections and water supply considerations has the meaning given by section 12.18.

Indigenous uses has the meaning given by section 10.52.

Indigenous values has the meaning given by section 10.52.

listed threatened ecological community has the meaning given by section 528 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

listed threatened species has the meaning given by section 528 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

local reduction amount, for an SDL resource unit, means:

(a) the quantity of water identified in column 2 of Schedule 2 as the local reduction amount for the unit; or

(b) if no quantity is identified—zero.

locationrelated right has the meaning given by section 12.06.

longterm watering plan has the meaning given by section 8.18.

major storages has the meaning given by clause 2 of the Agreement.

MDBA Technical Report 2010/20 means the MurrayDarling Basin Authority Technical Report 2010/20 titled Water Resource Assessments for Without Development and Baseline Conditions Version 2 published by the Authority in November 2011.

MDBA Technical Report 2011/01 means the MurrayDarling Basin Authority Technical Report 2011/01 titled Comparison of Watercourse Diversion Estimates in the Proposed Basin Plan with other Published Estimates Version 2 published by the Authority in November 2011.

native title right has the meaning given by section 223 of the Native Title Act 1993.

natural monthly water temperature means the natural monthly water temperature that is estimated either through modelling or through the actual measurement of temperature at representative undisturbed locations.

net effect has the meaning given by subsection S6A.04(2) of Schedule 6A.

net take, in the context of a commercial plantation, means the difference between the take by a commercial plantation and the take by the vegetation existing at the site of the plantation before the plantation commenced.

NTU means a nephelometric turbidity unit.

overturn means the remixing of a stratified water body.

physical constraint means a natural formation or a physical structure (for example, a pipe or channel) that limits the volume of water that can pass a given location.

priority ecosystem function has the meaning given by section 8.50.

priority environmental asset has the meaning given by section 8.49.

raw water means water in its natural state prior to any treatment.

recharge means the inflow of water, including precipitation, to a groundwater resource.

reconfiguration or decommissioning work has the meaning given by section 12.29.

recovery of environmental water means the acquisition of a water access right for the purpose of achieving an environmental outcome.

reduced supply contribution has the meaning given by subsection S6A.05(3) of Schedule 6A.

register of take means the register of take referred to in section 6.08.

regulated river means:

(a) in New South Wales—a river that has been declared in accordance with the Water Management Act 2000 of New South Wales to be a regulated river before the commencement of the Basin Plan;

(b) in Victoria—a river where the flow is regulated through the operation of large dams or large weirs.

regulated system means a surface water system in which water in a watercourse can be stored or flow levels can be controlled, through the use of structures such as large dams or large weirs.

related party, in relation to an approval authority, means:

(a) an entity in which the approval authority has a controlling interest; or

(b) a natural person who is acting on behalf of the approval authority in return for a commission or fee.

relevant water accounting period, in Division 1A of Part 4 of Chapter 6, has the meaning given by subsection 6.08E(4).

resource availability scenario has the meaning given by section 8.61.

restrict, in relation to trade, includes refuse, prevent, deter, delay or impose a condition or a barrier (including a volumetric limit) on, and restriction has a corresponding meaning.

runoff dam means a dam or reservoir that collects surface water flowing over land.

Note: In New South Wales, a runoff dam may also collect water from a first or secondorder stream.

SDL means the longterm average sustainable diversion limit.

SDL adjustment amount, for a particular surface water SDL resource unit and for a particular water accounting period, has the meaning given by section 6.05A.

Note: See section 7.10 of the Basin Plan.

SDL resource unit means the water resources, or particular parts of the water resources, of a water resource plan area that is either a surface water SDL resource unit or groundwater SDL resource unit.

SDL resource unit shared reduction amount has the meaning given by section 6.05.

shortfall in conveyance water means the shortfall calculated in accordance with subsection 86D(2) of the Act.

soil degradation, for the purposes of the objective for irrigation water in section 9.06 and the targets for irrigation water in section 9.17, means reduced permeability and soil structure breakdown caused by the level of sodium in the irrigation water, assessed using the sodium adsorption ratio.

surface water resource means a Basin water resource consisting of:

(a) surface water; or

(b) a watercourse, lake or wetland (whether or not it has water in it).

surface water SDL resource unit has the meaning given by section 6.02.

tagged water access entitlement has the meaning given by section 12.23.

target application zone has the meaning given by section 9.16.

tier of water sharing arrangements means either Tier 1 water sharing arrangements, Tier 2 water sharing arrangements or Tier 3 water sharing arrangements, within the meaning of the Agreement.

total current efficiency contribution has the meaning given by subsection S6A.02(1) of Schedule 6A.

transformation means the transformation of the whole, or a part, of an irrigation right into a water access entitlement in accordance with transformation arrangements.

transformation arrangements means arrangements of the kind referred to in paragraph 97(1)(a) of the Act.

unregulated system means a surface water system that is not a regulated system.

volumetric limit means a limit whose purpose or effect is to cap the total volume of water that may be traded into or out of an area. water accounting period:

(a) other than in Chapter 11—has the meaning given by section 3.08; and

(b) in Chapter 11—has the meaning given by section 11.02.

water announcement has the meaning given by section 12.49.

Water for Rivers means the Joint Government Enterprise Limited, a public company limited by guarantee with the registered business name ‘Water for Rivers’.

water market intermediary means any of the following:

(a) a person who trades tradeable water rights on behalf of another person in exchange for a commission or fee;

(b) a person who investigates tradeable water right trading possibilities on behalf of a potential water market participant for a commission or fee;

(c) a person who prepares documents necessary for the trade of a tradeable water right on behalf of a potential water market participant for a commission or fee;

(d) a person who provides a trading platform or water exchange for tradeable water rights.

water quality includes salinity.

water quality characteristic:

(a) other than in Chapter 11—means a characteristic of water quality for which Part 4 of Chapter 9 sets a target value; and

(b) in Chapter 11—has the meaning given by section 11.02.

water register means a record of water access rights in a Basin State.

water resource assessment means an assessment (including one for the purpose of a determination under clause 102(c) of the Agreement) of the amount of water that will be available:

(a) for distribution to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia during a particular period; and 

(b) for holding in reserve at the end of the period;

taking into account matters including:

(c) the volume of water held in the major storages; and

(d) estimated water use during the period; and

(e) assumed or forecast inflows during the period.

water supply authority means an infrastructure operator that treats and supplies water for human consumption.

water use approval means an authority to use water on specified land or in a specified watercourse.

WimmeraMallee Pipeline Project means the joint water infrastructure project with the name ‘The WimmeraMallee Pipeline Project’ undertaken by Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Corporation and funded by the Commonwealth and Victoria.

works approval means an authority to construct and use water supply works (including pumps, bores and dams).

worst case planning water resource assessment means a water resource assessment taking into account the minimum inflow sequence to the River Murray System.

WQM Plan means a water quality management plan for a water resource plan area made in accordance with Part 7 of Chapter 10.

(2) In the Basin Plan, a reference to trade includes a reference to transfer.

(3) To avoid doubt, trade includes:

(a) a trade that does not involve the payment of consideration; and

(b) a trade between places under which ownership of the right being traded does not change; and

(c) the establishment of a leasing arrangement; and

(d) the establishment of a tagged water access entitlement.

(4) To avoid doubt:

(a) a reference to the commencement of the Basin Plan is a reference to commencement under subsection 1.04(1); and

(b) a reference to the commencement of Chapter 12 is a reference to commencement under subsection 1.04(2).

Note:    A number of provisions of the Basin Plan require decisionmakers to ‘have regard to’ certain matters when performing functions and making decisions. The phrases ‘have regard to’ and similar phrases are intended to be interpreted consistent with case law, as it develops from time to time and as applied with appropriate regard to the circumstances. This note is intended to reflect the case law and not to limit its application or development. When a decisionmaker is required to ‘have regard to’ particular matters, it is expected that the decisionmaker will give those matters proper, genuine and realistic consideration, even if not ultimately bound to act in accordance with those matters. A requirement to ‘have regard to’ a particular matter or matters does not mean that the decisionmaker cannot have regard to other relevant matters, for example, the benefits and costs of taking a particular action. See section 1.07 of the explanatory statement in relation to the Basin Plan for further information about the phrases ‘have regard to’, ‘having regard to’ and ‘regard must be had’.

1.08 Basin Plan not to be inconsistent with Snowy Water Licence

A provision of the Basin Plan has no effect to the extent to which the provision is inconsistent with the provisions of the licence issued under section 22 of the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 of New South Wales.

Note: The Basin Plan applies to all Basin waters, including the Upper Murrumbidgee River, except to the extent that the Basin Plan is inconsistent with the licence mentioned in this section.

1.09 Construction of provisions imposing obligations on States

If:

(a) the Basin Plan purports to impose an obligation on a Basin State to do a particular thing; and

(b) the imposition of that obligation would contravene a constitutional doctrine restricting the obligations that the Commonwealth may impose on a State;

the Basin Plan is taken, instead of imposing the obligation, to confer a discretion on the Basin State to do the thing.

1.10 Reasonable excuse for not producing or providing information etc

If the Basin Plan requires a person or body to produce or provide information, a notice or a document, the person or body need not comply with the requirement if the person or body has a reasonable excuse for noncompliance.

1.11 Avoidance of double counting of forms of take

For the purposes of the Basin Plan, in ascribing a particular quantity of water that is taken to a form of take, the quantity of water must be ascribed to one, and only one, form of take.

Note: It will often be possible to ascribe a quantity of water that is taken under basic rights either to take under basic rights, or to another form of take. In such a case, this section does not stipulate to which form of take the quantity of water should be ascribed. However, some other provisions of the Basin Plan do stipulate this. See for example Schedule 3.

 

Part 4—Agreements with regard to jurisdictional implementation obligations

1.12 Agreements with regard to jurisdictional implementation obligations

(1) The Authority may enter into an agreement with a Basin State with respect to any implementation obligation the Basin Plan purports to impose onto that Basin State.

(2) The Authority must consult the Commonwealth and other Basin States in relation to such an agreement.

(3) The Authority and a Basin State must use their best endeavours to enter into any such agreement within 2 years after the commencement of the Basin Plan.

(4) Any agreement must be developed having regard to:

(a) any relevant agreement made, or in the process of being made, with another Basin State; and

(b) any relevant circumstances of the Basin State; and

(c) any relevant CommonwealthState agreements, including funding agreements.

(5) The Authority must publish an agreement under this section on its website.

Note: Entry into an agreement, or a failure to enter into an agreement, does not affect the commencement or operation of the Basin Plan.

 

Chapter 2—Basin water resources and the context for their use

 

2.01 Description located in Schedule 1

The description of the Basin water resources and the context in which those resources are used (item 1 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act) is set out in Schedule 1.

 

Chapter 3—Water resource plan areas and water accounting periods

Part 1—Preliminary

3.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) Part 2 identifies the particular areas that are to be water resource plan areas (item 2 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Note:  A map of the water resource plan areas can be obtained from the Authority’s website.

(3) Part 3 identifies the periods that are to be the water accounting periods for each of those water resource plan areas (item 2 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

3.02 Time at which area becomes water resource plan area

An area identified in Part 2 as a water resource plan area becomes a water resource plan area on the commencement of the Basin Plan.

3.03 Datasets for identification of water resource plan areas

(1) A reference in section 3.05 to an area of a particular name is a reference to the area within the polygon of that name specified in the dataset that:

(a) is titled MurrayDarling Basin Water Resource Plan Areas—Surface Water; and

(b) has a dataset scale of 1:250,000; and

(c) is held by the Authority on 14 November 2017.

(2) A reference in section 3.06 to an area of a particular name is a reference to the area within the polygon of that name specified in the dataset that:

(a) is titled MurrayDarling Basin Water Resource Plan Areas—Groundwater; and

(b) has a dataset scale of 1:250,000; and

(c) is held by the Authority on 14 November 2017.

(3) A reference in section 3.07 to an area of a particular name is a reference to the area within the polygon of that name specified in both the datasets mentioned in subsections (1) and (2).

(4) The Authority must publish on its website a map that:

(a) identifies each water resource plan area; and

(b) is prepared using the relevant dataset mentioned in this section.

3.04 Flexibility relating to boundaries of water resource plans

If a segment of the boundary of a water resource plan area, as specified in a dataset mentioned in section 3.03, is also the boundary of the MurrayDarling Basin, the water resource plan for the area may specify a different course for that segment within the MurrayDarling Basin, provided that the changed boundary:

(a) meets the requirements of item 2 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act; and

(b) does not result in a material change in the water resources to which the water resource plan area applies.

Part 2—Water resource plan areas

3.05 Water resource plan areassurface water

Note: See section 1.07 for the meaning of surface water resource.

Each of the following named areas is a water resource plan area that applies to the surface water resources indicated:

(a) Australian Capital Territory (surface water)—all surface water resources in the area;

(b) BarwonDarling Watercourse—all surface water resources in the area;

(c) New South Wales Border Rivers—all surface water resources in the area;

(d) Northern Victoria—all surface water resources in the area;

(e) Gwydir—all surface water resources in the area;

(f) Intersecting Streams—all surface water resources in the area;

(g) Lachlan—all surface water resources in the area;

(h) MacquarieCastlereagh—all surface water resources in the area;

(i) Murrumbidgee—all surface water resources in the area;

(j) New South Wales Murray and Lower Darling—all surface water resources in the area;

(k) Namoi—all surface water resources in the area;

(l) South Australian River Murray—all surface water resources in the area;

(m) Victorian Murray—all surface water resources in the area;

(n) WimmeraMallee (surface water)—all surface water resources in the area.

3.06 Water resource plan areas—groundwater

Note: See section 1.07 for the meaning of groundwater resource.

Each of the following named areas is a water resource plan area that applies to the groundwater resources indicated:

(a) Australian Capital Territory (groundwater)—all groundwater resources beneath the area;

(b) NSW Border Rivers Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (f) and (i);

(c) Darling Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (d), (f) and (i);

(d) NSW MurrayDarling Basin Porous Rock—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (c), (f), (g), (i), (j), (k), (l) and (m);

(e) GoulburnMurray—all groundwater resources beneath the area;

(f) NSW Great Artesian Basin Shallow—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (g), (i), (j) and (m);

(g) Gwydir Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (d), (f) and (i);

(h) Lachlan Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraph (i);

(i) NSW MurrayDarling Basin Fractured Rock—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (f), (g), (h), (j), (k), (l) and (m);

(j) MacquarieCastlereagh Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (d), (f) and (i);

(k) Murray Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (d) and (i);

(l) Murrumbidgee Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (d) and (i);

(m) Namoi Alluvium—all groundwater resources beneath the area, excluding those referred to in paragraphs (d), (f) and (i);

(n) WimmeraMallee (groundwater)—all groundwater resources beneath the area.

Note: Schedule 4 lists the groundwater SDL resource units in each water resource plan area.

3.07 Water resource plan areas—surface water and groundwater

Each of the following named areas is a water resource plan area that applies to the surface water resources and groundwater resources indicated:

(a) WarregoParooNebine—the following:

(i) all surface water resources in the area;

(ii) all groundwater resources beneath the area that are above the Great Artesian Basin;

(b) CondamineBalonne—the following:

(i) all surface water resources in the area;

(ii) all groundwater resources beneath the area that are above the Great Artesian Basin;

(iii) all groundwater resources in the Queensland MurrayDarling Basin below the Great Artesian Basin;

(c) Queensland Border RiversMoonie—the following:

(i) all surface water resources in the area;

(ii) all groundwater resources beneath the area that are above the Great Artesian Basin;

(e) South Australian Murray Region—the following:

(i) all surface water resources in the area, excluding those in the South Australian River Murray (paragraph 3.05(l));

(ii) all groundwater resources beneath the area;

(f) Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges—the following:

(i) all surface water resources in the area;

(ii) all groundwater resources beneath the area.

Note: Schedule 4 lists the groundwater SDL resource units in each water resource plan area.

 

Part 3—Water accounting periods

3.08 Water accounting period for each water resource plan area

The water accounting period for each water resource plan area is a financial year.

Note: In Chapter 11, water accounting period means a period of 12 months beginning on 1 June of any year (see section 11.02).

 

 

Chapter 4—Identification and management of risks to Basin water resources

Part 1—Preliminary

4.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter identifies:

(a) risks to the condition, or continued availability, of Basin water resources (item 3 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act); and

(b) strategies to manage, or address, those risks (item 5 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

Part 2—Risks and strategies to address risks

4.02 Risks to condition, or continued availability, of Basin water resources, and consequential risks

(1) The risks to the condition, or continued availability, of Basin water resources, including the risks to the availability of Basin water resources that arise from the matters specified in item 3 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act are:

(a) insufficient water available for the environment; and

(b) water being of a quality unsuitable for use; and

(c) poor health of waterdependent ecosystems.

(2) The consequences of the materialisation of the risks identified in subsection (1) include:

(a) that insufficient water is available, or water is not suitable for consumptive and other economic uses of Basin water resources; and

(b) that insufficient water is available, or water is not suitable to maintain social, cultural, Indigenous and other public benefit values.

4.03 Strategies to manage, or address, identified risks

(1) This section sets out the strategies to manage, or address, the risks identified in section 4.02.

Note: Water resource plans must be prepared having regard to the strategies (see subsection 10.43(3)).

(2) The Authority must have regard to the strategies when undertaking its functions.

(3) The strategies are the following:

(a) to implement the Basin Plan, including its following key elements:

(i) the environmental watering plan;

(ii) the water quality and salinity management plan;

(iii) the water trading rules;

(iv) water resource planning;

(b) to develop water resource plans and amendments to the Basin Plan based on best available knowledge and in consultation with relevant stakeholders;

(c) to promote a riskbased approach to water resource planning and management;

(d) to manage flows to optimise outcomes across the range of water uses in the MurrayDarling Basin;

(e) to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Basin Plan;

(f) to promote and enforce compliance with the Basin Plan and water resource plans;

(g) to improve knowledge of water requirements within the MurrayDarling Basin, including the following:

(i) environmental watering requirements;

(ii) requirements relating to the social, spiritual and cultural uses of Basin water resources by Indigenous people;

(iii) the impact of climate change on water requirements;

(iv) the water required to deliver social and economic benefits to Basin communities;

(h) to improve knowledge of the impact on Basin water resources of the following:

(i) interception activities and land use change;

(ii) floodplain harvesting and periurban and industrial take;

(iii) climate change;

(i) to improve knowledge of:

(i) groundwater and surface water resources, including through improved measurement; and

(ii) the causes of water quality degradation and the effects of water quality on environmental assets and ecosystem functions.

4.04 Authority may publish guidelines

(1) The Authority may publish guidelines setting out specific actions that may be taken in relation to the implementation of the strategies listed in subsection 4.03(3).

(2) The guidelines may be reviewed and, if necessary, updated at any time.

(3) The guidelines must be made having regard to AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management—Principles and Guidelines.

Note: Water resource plans must be prepared having regard to any guidelines published in accordance with this section (see subsection 10.43(3)).

 

Chapter 5—Management objectives and outcomes to be achieved by Basin Plan

 

5.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter sets out the management objectives and outcomes to be achieved by the Basin Plan (item 4 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act).

(3) The management objectives and outcomes include objectives and outcomes:

(a) for the Basin Plan as a whole; and

(b) in relation to environmental outcomes; and

(c) in relation to water quality and salinity; and

(d) in relation to the longterm average sustainable diversion limits; and

(e) in relation to trading in the water market.

Note: The temporary diversion provision for each SDL resource unit is zero—see section 6.07. Accordingly, there are no objectives or outcomes in relation to the temporary diversion provision.

5.02 Objectives and outcome for Basin Plan as a whole

(1) The objectives for the Basin Plan as a whole are:

(a) to give effect to relevant international agreements through the integrated management of Basin water resources; and

(b) to establish a sustainable and longterm adaptive management framework for the Basin water resources, that takes into account the broader management of natural resources in the MurrayDarling Basin; and

(c) to optimise social, economic and environmental outcomes arising from the use of Basin water resources in the national interest; and

(d) to improve water security for all uses of Basin water resources.

(2) The outcome for the Basin Plan as a whole is a healthy and working MurrayDarling Basin that includes:

(a) communities with sufficient and reliable water supplies that are fit for a range of intended purposes, including domestic, recreational and cultural use; and

(b) productive and resilient waterdependent industries, and communities with confidence in their longterm future; and

(c) healthy and resilient ecosystems with rivers and creeks regularly connected to their floodplains and, ultimately, the ocean.

5.03 Objectives and outcome in relation to environmental outcomes

(1) The objectives in relation to environmental outcomes are, within the context of a working MurrayDarling Basin:

(a) to protect and restore waterdependent ecosystems of the MurrayDarling Basin; and

(b) to protect and restore the ecosystem functions of waterdependent ecosystems; and

(c) to ensure that waterdependent ecosystems are resilient to climate change and other risks and threats; and

(d) to ensure that environmental watering is coordinated between managers of planned environmental water, owners and managers of environmental assets, and holders of held environmental water.

Note 1:  The fact that water storages and property (including floodplains) are under the control of various persons currently restricts the capacity to actively manage all waterdependent ecosystems.

Note 2: Particular objectives relating to each of the objectives in paragraphs (1)(a) to (c) are specified in Part 2 of Chapter 8.

(2) The outcome in relation to subsection (1) is the restoration and protection of waterdependent ecosystems and ecosystem functions in the MurrayDarling Basin with strengthened resilience to a changing climate.

5.04 Objective and outcome in relation to water quality and salinity

(1) The objective in relation to water quality and salinity is to maintain appropriate water quality, including salinity levels, for environmental, social, cultural and economic activity in the MurrayDarling Basin.

Note: See also the water quality objectives for Basin water resources in Part 3 of Chapter 9.

(2) The outcome in relation to water quality and salinity is that Basin water resources remain fit for purpose.

5.05 Objective and outcomes in relation to longterm average sustainable diversion limits

(1) The objective in relation to longterm average sustainable diversion limits is to establish environmentally sustainable limits on the quantities of surface water and groundwater that can be taken for consumptive use from Basin water resources, having regard to social and economic impacts, and in doing so:

(a) inform environmental water recovery measures, including water purchasing and infrastructure that improves water use efficiency; and

(b) provide greater certainty for all water users, including in times of drought and low water availability; and

(c) provide time for water access entitlement holders and communities to transition and adjust to longterm average sustainable diversion limits.

(2) The outcomes in relation to the establishment of longterm average sustainable diversion limits are:

(a) the restoration and protection of waterdependent ecosystems and ecosystem functions in the MurrayDarling Basin; and

(b) wellinformed water recovery measures, including water purchasing and infrastructure, enable a transition to longterm average sustainable diversion limits; and

(c) greater certainty of access to Basin water resources; and

(d) water access entitlement holders and communities of the MurrayDarling Basin are better adapted to reduced quantities of available water.

5.06 Objective and outcome for operation of the SDL adjustment mechanism

(1) The objective in relation to the operation of the SDL adjustment mechanism is to adjust SDLs in a way that increases environmental outcomes while maintaining or improving social and economic outcomes.

Note Particular objectives relating to different kinds of measures are specified in Part 2 of Chapter 7.

(2) The outcome in relation to the operation of the SDL adjustment mechanism is a healthy and working MurrayDarling Basin that includes the outcomes specified in subsection 5.02(2).

5.07 Objectives and outcome in relation to trading in the water market

(1) The objectives for trading in the water market are:

(a) to facilitate the operation of efficient water markets and the opportunities for trading, within and between Basin States, where water resources are physically shared or hydrologic connections and water supply considerations will permit water trading; and

(b) to minimise transaction cost on water trades, including through good information flows in the market and compatible entitlement, registry, regulatory and other arrangements across jurisdictions; and

(c) to enable the appropriate mix of water products to develop based on water access entitlements which can be traded either in whole or in part, and either temporarily or permanently, or through lease arrangements or other trading options that may evolve over time; and

(d) to recognise and protect the needs of the environment; and

(e) to provide appropriate protection of thirdparty interests.

(2) The outcome for trading in the water market is the creation of a more efficient and effective market that:

(a) facilitates water reaching its most productive use; and

(b) enhances the productivity and growth of waterdependent industries; and

(c) enables waterdependent industries to:

(i) better manage through extreme events under current climate variability; and

(ii) strengthen their capacity to adapt to future climate change.

Chapter 6—Water that can be taken

Part 1—Preliminary

6.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter deals with the matters set out in items 6, 7 and 8 of the table in subsection 22(1) and Division 4 of Part 2 of the Act. Those matters are:

(a) the longterm average sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) (Part 2); and

(b) the temporary diversion provision (Part 3); and

(c) the method for determining compliance with the longterm annual diversion limit (Part 4); and

(d) allocation of risks in relation to reductions in diversion limits (Part 5); and

(e) risks arising from other changes to the Basin Plan (Part 5).

Note: See Chapter 7 for adjustments to the longterm average sustainable diversion limits.

Part 2—Longterm average sustainable diversion limits

Division 1—Identification of SDL resource units

6.02 Identification of surface water SDL resource units

(1) A surface water SDL resource unit referred to in column 1 of the table in Schedule 2 consists of all surface water resources within the area described by the polygon of the same name contained in the dataset that:

(a) is titled Surface Water SDL Resource Units; and

(b) has a dataset scale of 1:250,000; and

(c) is held by the Authority on 14 November 2017.

Note: See subsection 6.04(3) for the longterm average sustainable diversion limits that apply to each surface water SDL resource unit.

(2) The Authority must publish on its website a map that:

(a) identifies each surface water SDL resource unit; and

(b) is prepared using the dataset referred to in subsection (1).

6.03 Identification of groundwater SDL resource units

(1) A groundwater SDL resource unit referred to in column 1 of the table in Schedule 4 consists of all groundwater resources described by column 2 of the table in Schedule 4 that lie beneath the area described by the polygon of the same name in the dataset that:

(a) is titled Groundwater SDL Resource Units; and

(b) has a dataset scale of 1:250,000; and

(c) is held by the Authority on 14 November 2017.

Note: See subsection 6.04(4) for the longterm average sustainable diversion limits that apply to each groundwater SDL resource unit.

(2) The Authority must publish on its website a map that:

(a) identifies each groundwater SDL resource unit; and

(b) is prepared using the dataset referred to in subsection (1).

 

Division 2—Longterm average sustainable diversion limits

6.04 Longterm average sustainable diversion limits

(1) The longterm average sustainable diversion limits set out in this section take effect on 1 July 2019.

(2) The longterm average sustainable diversion limit for the Basin water resources as a whole is the sum of the longterm average sustainable diversion limits for all SDL resource units.

Note: As at 14 November 2017, the Authority had estimated the longterm average sustainable diversion limit for all surface water SDL resource units to be 10,945 GL per year. This reflects a reduction of 2,680 GL per year from the Authority’s estimate of the BDL for all surface water SDL resource units. Current estimates of amounts of water that have been recovered for the environment were, in 2018, available on the Authority’s website (www.mdba.gov.au) and on the Department’s website (www.agriculture.gov.au).

(3) The longterm average sustainable diversion limit for each surface water SDL resource unit is set out in column 2 of the table in Schedule 2.

Note: The longterm average sustainable diversion limits in the northern Basin Queensland zone and the northern Basin New South Wales zone were changed following the Northern Basin Review (completed in 2016).

 The Authority estimates the longterm average sustainable diversion limit for all surface water SDL resource units in these zones to be 3,538 GL per year. This represents a reduction of 320 GL per year from the Authority’s estimate of the BDL for the northern Basin.

 The northern Basin SDL was based on:

 (a)  the economic, social and environmental outcomes of the Northern Basin Review; and

 (b) commitments from the Commonwealth, Queensland and New South Wales Governments to implement ‘toolkit’ measures that will deliver improved environmental outcomes in the northern Basin. 

(4) The longterm average sustainable diversion limit for each groundwater SDL resource unit is set out in column 4 of the table in Schedule 4.

Note: This section sets environmentally sustainable limits on the quantity of surface water and groundwater that may be taken from an SDL resource unit. However, a water resource plan may provide for less water to be taken: see subsection 10.11(2).

6.05 SDL resource unit shared reduction amount

(1) For column 2 of the table in Schedule 2, the SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for an SDL resource unit in one of the zones mentioned in subsection (2) is the amount, in GL per year, determined in accordance with this section. 

Note: Subsection (4) provides a default distribution of shared reduction amounts within zones. Subsections (5)(14) deal with requests for different distributions made by the Basin States.   

(2) For this section, there are 6 zones:

(a) the northern Basin Queensland zone, made up of the following SDL resource units:

(i) CondamineBalonne (SS26);

(ii) Moonie (SS25);

(iii) Nebine (SS27);

(iv) Paroo (SS29);

(v) Queensland Border Rivers (SS24);

(vi) Warrego (SS28); and

(b) the northern Basin New South Wales zone, made up of the following SDL resource units:

(i) BarwonDarling Watercourse (SS19);

(ii) Gwydir (SS22);

(iii) Intersecting Streams (SS17);

(iv) MacquarieCastlereagh (SS20);

(v) Namoi (SS21);

(vi) NSW Border Rivers (SS23); and

(c) the southern Basin Victoria zone, made up of the following SDL resource units:

(i) Broken (SS5);

(ii) Campaspe (SS7);

(iii) Goulburn (SS6);

(iv) Kiewa (SS3);

(v) Loddon (SS8);

(vi) Ovens (SS4);

(vii) Victorian Murray (SS2); and

(d) the southern Basin New South Wales zone, made up of the following SDL resource units:

(i) Lower Darling (SS18);

(ii) Murrumbidgee (SS15);

(iii) New South Wales Murray (SS14); and

(e) the southern Basin South Australia zone, made up of the following SDL resource units:

(i) Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges (SS13);

(ii) South Australian Murray (SS11); and

(f) the southern Basin Australian Capital Territory zone, made up of the Australian Capital Territory (surface water) SDL resource unit (SS1).

(3) For this section, the reduction targets for the zones are as follows:

(a) northern Basin Queensland zone—17 GL per year;

(b) northern Basin New South Wales zone—24 GL per year;

(c) southern Basin Victoria zone—425.3 GL per year;

(d) southern Basin New South Wales zone—458 GL per year;

(e) southern Basin South Australia zone—82.8 GL per year;

(f) southern Basin Australian Capital Territory zone—4.9 GL per year.

Default distribution of shared reduction amounts

(4) Subject to subsections (5) to (14), the SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for SDL resource units in a zone is calculated, as at 31 December 2016, by allocating the reduction target for the zone among the SDL resource units in proportion to the amount, for each SDL resource unit, of its BDL, including any component of water diverted for urban water use, but excluding any component due to interception activities.

Redistribution of shared reduction amounts at request of Basin State

 (5) A Basin State may make a reallocation adjustment request.              

 (6) For this section:

reallocation adjustment request means a request by a Basin State to the Authority to adjust the SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts for SDL resource units that are within a zone mentioned in subsection (2), being a request that:

(a) is made for the purposes of this section:

(i) before 1 July 2018; and

(ii) before any water resource plan is submitted by the State for a water resource plan area in the zone (excluding any water resource plan submitted before 14 November 2017); and

(b) if made before the substitution of this section by the Basin Plan 2012—is expressed to be made in anticipation of the substitution of this section by that instrument; and

(c) has the effect that:

(i) the total of the SDLs for each zone remains the same; and

(ii) no SDL resource unit has an SDL that is larger than would result from replacing its shared reduction amount with zero; and

(d) takes into account the amount of water already recovered by the Commonwealth at the time of the request (and does not, for example, request an SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for a unit that is lower than the amount of water already recovered by the Commonwealth at the time of the request).

Note: An earlier request referred to in section 7.14A is not a reallocation adjustment request for the purposes of this section. A Basin State may, if it has made such an earlier request, confirm it (provided it satisfies paragraphs (c) and (d)) or vary it by making a reallocation adjustment request for the purposes of this section. Otherwise, the default shared reduction amounts under subsection (4) will apply.  

(7) A reallocation adjustment request may not be varied or replaced once made.

(8) If the Authority receives a reallocation adjustment request, the Authority must, as soon as practicable, publish the requested SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts for SDL resource units in the relevant zone on its website.

Variations due to changes in water recovery

 (9) A Basin State may:

(a) after making a reallocation adjustment request and by 31 December 2018; or

(b) if no reallocation adjustment request has been made—between 1 July 2018 and 31 December 2018;

  make a request to the Authority for variations to the SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts for SDL resource units in a zone.

(10) A request under subsection (9):

(a) must comply with paragraph (c) of the definition of reallocation adjustment request in subsection (6); and

(b) must take into account the amount of water already recovered by the Commonwealth at the time of the request (and must not, for example, request an SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for a unit that is lower than the amount of water already recovered by the Commonwealth at the time of the request); and

(c) must not change the SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts for SDL resource units in a water resource plan area for which a water resource plan has already been submitted. 

(11) The Authority must consult with the Department upon receiving a request under subsection (9) that complies with subsection (10).              

(12) The Authority may agree to the requested variations if both the Authority and the Department consider that it is appropriate for the Authority to do so in order to accommodate changes in the expected amount of water recovery in relevant SDL resource units.

(13) If the Authority agrees to the requested variations, the Authority must:

(a) update any relevant amounts that have been published under subsection (8) to reflect the variations; or

(b) if no such amounts have been published under subsection (8)—publish the variations to the SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts for SDL resource units in the relevant zone on its website.

Effect of publishing shared reduction amounts

(14) If the Authority publishes an SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for an SDL resource unit on its website under this section, that amount is the SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for the relevant unit. 

6.05A  SDL adjustment amount 

For column 2 of the table in Schedule 2, the SDL adjustment amount for a surface water SDL resource unit for a water accounting period is the amount, in GL per year, calculated in accordance with Schedule 6A for the water accounting period.

Note: See section 7.10 of the Basin Plan.

 

6.06 Reviews of the Basin Plan

Reviews generally

(1) The Authority may, in consultation with Basin States and other interested persons, conduct research and investigations into the longterm average sustainable diversion limits or any other aspects of the Basin Plan, for the purpose of informing any reviews of the Basin Plan or aspects of the Basin Plan including in relation to whether there should be changes to the longterm average sustainable diversion limits.

(2) A review may be undertaken at the request of the MurrayDarling Basin Ministerial Council.

Note: See also subsection 50(2) of the Act.

(3) A review must be undertaken having regard to the management of climate change risks and include an uptodate assessment of those risks, and consider all relevant knowledge about the connectivity of surface and groundwater, the outcomes of environmental watering and the effectiveness of environmental works and measures.

(4) The Authority must publish on its website any reports produced as a result of research or investigations conducted under this section.

(5) Nothing in this section limits the powers of the Authority or the MurrayDarling Basin Ministerial Council.

Note: For example, the Authority has other powers under the Act and the Basin Plan to conduct reviews, research and investigations: see sections 50 and 172 of the Act and Chapter 13 of the Basin Plan.

Part 3—Temporary diversion provision

6.07 Temporary diversion provision

The temporary diversion provision for each SDL resource unit is zero.

Part 4—Method for determining compliance with longterm annual diversion limit

Division 1Preliminary

6.08 Register of take

(1) The Authority must establish and maintain a register of take for each SDL resource unit in accordance with this Part.

(2) The purpose of the register of take is to assist with determining, for each water accounting period, whether there has been compliance with the longterm annual diversion limit for an SDL resource unit and the extent of any failure to comply with that limit.

Note:  See section 4 of the Act for the meaning of longterm annual diversion limit. Under the Basin Plan, the longterm annual diversion limit is the same as the longterm average sustainable diversion limit because the temporary diversion provision for each SDL resource unit is zero: see section 6.07.

(3) For each surface water SDL resource unit, the register of take must include:

(a) a debit column to record the amounts referred to in subsections 6.11(1) and (3); and

(b) a credit column to record the amounts referred to in subsections 6.11(2) and (3); and

(c) a cumulative balance column to record the amounts referred to in subsection 6.11(4).

(3A) For each groundwater SDL resource unit, the register of take must include a record of amounts for determining compliance, as set out in Division 3.

(4) The register may also include any other matters the Authority considers relevant to determining whether there has been compliance with the longterm annual diversion limit.

(5) The register of take commences in the first water accounting period after 30 June 2019 following the commencement of a water resource plan.

(6) When the register of take commences for a surface water SDL resource unit, it must record a cumulative balance of zero.

(7) The Authority must publish the register of take on its website.

6.08A  Content of action plan

(1) This section applies in relation to an action plan for the purposes of the following provisions:

(a) subsection 71(1A) of the Act;

(b) subsection 6.12(5);

(c) subsection 6.12C(5).

(2) The InspectorGeneral may issue and publish guidelines under subsection 215V(1) in relation to the action plans, and the Basin States must have regard to the guidelines in preparing action plans.

Note: The InspectorGeneral must consult the Basin States, and have regard to any submissions made by the Basin States, in preparing guidelines under section 215V: see section 215VB.

Amendment or replacement of action plan

(3) An amendment or replacement of an action plan must explain the reasons for the amendment or replacement.

6.08B  Reporting on action plan under the Basin Plan

 After the end of a water accounting period, a Basin State must, at the same time as it provides the Authority with a report under section 71 in relation to the period, provide the Authority and the InspectorGeneral with a report that includes details of progress during the period in taking the proposed set of actions specified in an action plan provided by the Basin State as required by subsection 6.12(5) or 6.12C(5).

6.08C  Content of report

(1) This section applies in relation to a report on the progress of an action plan for the purposes of:

(a) subsection 71(1B) of the Act; or

(b) section 6.08B.

(2) The InspectorGeneral may issue and publish guidelines under subsection 215V(1) in relation to the reports, and the Basin States must have regard to the guidelines in preparing the reports.

Note: The InspectorGeneral must consult the Basin States, and have regard to any submissions made by the Basin States, in preparing guidelines under section 215V: see section 215VB.

Division 1AOneoff adjustment to cumulative balances for surface water SDL resource units

6.08D  Determining oneoff adjustment to cumulative balances from 1 July 2019

(1) The Authority must make a oneoff adjustment, in accordance with this Division, to the cumulative balance for each surface water SDL resource unit, unless the register of take for the surface water SDL resource unit had already commenced as at 1 July 2019.

Register of take has already commenced

(2) If the register of take for a surface water SDL resource unit for which the Authority must make a oneoff adjustment has already commenced as at the commencement of this section, the Authority must make a oneoff adjustment in relation to the surface water SDL resource unit as soon as practicable after the beginning of the first water accounting period after that commencement.

Register of take has not already commenced

(3) If the register of take for a surface water SDL resource unit for which the Authority must make a oneoff adjustment has not already commenced as at the commencement of this section, the Authority must make a oneoff adjustment in relation to the surface water SDL resource unit as soon as practicable after the end of the water accounting period in which the register of take commences.

6.08E  Step 1—Calculation of annual permitted take and annual actual take for oneoff adjustment

(1) This section and sections 6.08F and 6.08G set out how to calculate the oneoff adjustment to the cumulative balance of a surface water SDL resource unit.

(2) For each relevant water accounting period for the surface water SDL resource unit, sum the maximum quantity of water permitted to be taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the surface water SDL resource unit (annual permitted take) in accordance with section 6.08G.

(3) For the same relevant water accounting period, sum the quantity of water actually taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the surface water SDL resource unit (annual actual take) in accordance with section 6.08G.

(4) For the purposes of calculating the oneoff adjustment to the cumulative balance of a surface water SDL unit, a relevant water accounting period, for the surface water SDL resource unit, means a water accounting period that begins on or after 1 July 2019, other than the water accounting period in which the register of take for the surface water SDL resource unit commences or any later water accounting period.

6.08F  Step 2—Calculate and record the oneoff adjustment

(1) For each relevant water accounting period, if the annual actual take is greater than the annual permitted take, the difference is a debit.

(2) For each relevant water accounting period, if the annual actual take is less than the annual permitted take, the difference is a credit.

(3) For each relevant water accounting period, if there is no difference between the annual actual take and the annual permitted take, the difference is zero.

(4) As a result of the calculations made under subsections (1) to (3), determine the oneoff adjustment to the cumulative balance by summing the total differences between annual permitted take and annual actual take for each relevant water accounting period for the surface water SDL resource unit.

(5) If, in a relevant water accounting period, the circumstances mentioned in the example in paragraph 6.12(4)(b) apply, the oneoff adjustment for the surface water SDL resource unit is to be adjusted by including the amount attributable to those circumstances as a credit, and subsection 6.11(5) does not apply to the relevant water accounting period.

(6) The oneoff adjustment for the surface water SDL resource unit is to be adjusted to account for any disposal or acquisition of held environmental water for each relevant water accounting period.

(7) Record the oneoff adjustment on the register of take as either a debit, a credit or zero.

(8) For the water accounting period in which the oneoff adjustment is recorded, the cumulative balance determined under subsection 6.11(4) is to include the effect of the oneoff adjustment.

6.08G  How to calculate the annual permitted take and the annual actual take

(1) Subject to this section, the annual permitted take and the annual actual take are to be worked out using the method set out in the water resource plan for the surface water SDL resource unit for the purposes of sections 10.10 and 10.15.

Note 1: Section 10.10 requires a water resource plan to set out a method for determining the maximum quantity of water permitted to be taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the surface water SDL resource unit in each water accounting period.

Note 2: Section 10.15 requires a water resource plan to set out how the quantity of water actually taken for consumptive use by each form of take from each SDL resource unit will be determined after the end of a water accounting period using the best information available at the time.

(2) If the annual permitted take or the annual actual take cannot be worked out in accordance with subsection (1) because the data is not available for a form of take, the annual permitted take and the annual actual take are to be:

(a) the longterm annual average take for that form of take; or

(b) worked out in accordance with an alternative method determined by the Authority in consultation with the relevant Basin State before whichever of the following applies:

(i) if the water resource plan for the surface water SDL resource unit is accredited as at the commencement of this section—on or before the first 30 June after that commencement;

(ii) if the water resource plan for the surface water SDL resource unit is not accredited as at the commencement of this section—on or before 30 June of the water accounting period in which the register of take commences.

(3) The Authority must publish the method used on its website.

Division 2Method for determining compliance—surface water

6.09 Method for determining compliance with longterm annual diversion limit—surface water

(1) The method for determining compliance with the longterm annual diversion limit for a surface water SDL resource unit in a water accounting period is to follow the steps set out in this Division.

(2) The method applies to each water accounting period after 30 June 2019 following the commencement of a water resource plan relating to the SDL resource unit.

6.10 Step 1—Calculation of annual permitted take and annual actual take

(1) For a water accounting period, sum the maximum quantity of water permitted to be taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the SDL resource unit, determined in accordance with the method for section 10.10 (annual permitted take).

Note:   Section 10.10 requires a water resource plan to set out a method for determining the maximum quantity of water permitted to be taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the SDL resource unit in each water accounting period.

(2) For the same water accounting period, sum the quantity of water actually taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the SDL resource unit (annual actual take).

Note: See section 10.15.

6.11 Step 2—Record difference between annual actual take and annual permitted take

(1) If the annual actual take is greater than the annual permitted take, the difference must be recorded on the register of take for the SDL resource unit as a debit.

(2) If the annual actual take is less than the annual permitted take, the difference must be recorded on the register of take as a credit.

(3) If there is no difference between the annual actual take and the annual permitted take, a zero must be recorded on the register of take in both the debit column and the credit column.

(4) As a result of the record made under subsections (1) to (3):

(a) determine the new cumulative balance of the difference between annual permitted take and annual actual take for the SDL resource unit; and

(b) record this balance on the register of take as either a cumulative debit, cumulative credit, or a zero.

(5) If, in the previous water accounting period, the circumstances mentioned in the example in paragraph 6.12(4)(b) applied, the cumulative balance for the SDL resource unit is to be adjusted by crediting to that balance the amount attributable to those circumstances.

6.12 Step 3—Determine whether there is noncompliance

Note: See paragraphs 71(1)(g) and (h) of the Act.

(1) There is noncompliance with a longterm annual diversion limit for  a surface water SDL resource unit in a water accounting period if:

(a) the cumulative balance for the SDL resource unit, adjusted to account for any disposal or acquisition of held environmental water, is a debit amount equal to or greater than 20% of the longterm annual diversion limit for the SDL resource unit; and

(b) the Basin State does not have a reasonable excuse for the excess.

(2) For subsection (1):

(a) the Victorian Murray, Kiewa and Ovens SDL resource units may be treated as a single SDL resource unit; and

(b) the Goulburn, Broken, Campaspe and Loddon SDL resource units may be treated as a single SDL resource unit.

(3) A Basin State may not rely on a claim that there is a reasonable excuse for an excess unless:

(a) it has provided a report to the Authority and to the InspectorGeneral setting out the reasons for the excess, with evidence for the claim; and

(b) the InspectorGeneral is satisfied that the Basin State has a reasonable excuse as claimed.

Note 1: If the InspectorGeneral is not satisfied that there is a reasonable excuse, there will be noncompliance on the part of the Basin State requiring an action plan under subsection 71(1A) of the Act.

Note 2: It is open to the InspectorGeneral to consult with the Authority and other bodies as appropriate.

(4) A Basin State is taken to have a reasonable excuse for an excess if the excess arises as the result of:

(a) the operation of the water resource plan for the SDL resource unit; or

(b) circumstances beyond the Basin State’s control (for example where, for reasons beyond the Basin State’s control, the Commonwealth has not achieved the water recovery target that it has set for itself in relation to the SDL resource unit).

(5) A Basin State that relies on a claim it has made in accordance with subsection (3) must provide the Authority and the InspectorGeneral, in writing, with a proposed set of actions (an action plan) that the State will take to reduce the cumulative balance of the register to zero or less.

Note 1: The Basin State will not need to take steps to reduce the cumulative balance to the extent it will be adjusted under subsection 6.11(5).

Note 2: The InspectorGeneral may conduct, or appoint or establish a person or body to conduct, an audit in relation to compliance using the InspectorGeneral’s powers under the Act. The InspectorGeneral must publish a copy of a report of the audit on the InspectorGeneral’s website or the Department’s website. The findings of such an audit may also lead to further action being taken by the InspectorGeneral to ensure compliance with sections 34, 35, 58 and 59 of the Act.

Division 3—Method for determining compliance—groundwater

6.12A Method for determining compliance with longterm annual diversion limit—groundwater

(1) The method for determining compliance with the longterm annual diversion limit for a groundwater SDL resource unit in a water accounting period is to follow the steps set out in this Division.

(2) The method applies to each water accounting period after 30 June 2019 following the commencement of a water resource plan relating to the SDL resource unit.

6.12B Step 1—Calculation of annual permitted take and annual actual take

(1) For a water accounting period, sum the maximum quantity of water permitted to be taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the SDL resource unit, determined in accordance with the method for section 10.10 (annual permitted take).              

Note: Section 10.10 requires a water resource plan to set out a method for determining the maximum quantity of water permitted to be taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the SDL resource unit in each water accounting period.

(2) For the same water accounting period, sum the quantity of water actually taken by each form of take for consumptive use from the SDL resource unit (annual actual take).

Note: See section 10.15.

6.12C Step 2—Determine whether there is noncompliance

Note: See paragraphs 71(1)(g) and (h) of the Act.

Water accounting periods up to 2028

(1) There is noncompliance with a longterm annual diversion limit for the groundwater SDL resource unit in a water accounting period ending on or before 30 June 2028, if:

(a) the sum of annual actual take in the water accounting periods since 1 July 2019 is greater than the sum of annual permitted take for those water accounting periods plus 20% of the longterm annual diversion limit for the SDL resource unit, after adjusting, for any previous water accounting period in which the circumstances mentioned in the example in paragraph (4)(b) applied, by the amount attributable to those circumstances; and  

(b) the Basin State does not have a reasonable excuse for the excess.

Note: The effect of the subsection above is the same as the effect of section 6.12 which applies in relation to surface water SDL resource units.

Water accounting periods after 2028

(2) There is noncompliance with a longterm annual diversion limit for the groundwater SDL resource unit in a water accounting period ending after 30 June 2028, if:

 (a) the average annual actual take over the 10 year period ending with that water accounting period is greater than the average annual permitted take over the 10 year period, after adjusting, for any previous water accounting period in which the circumstances mentioned in the example in paragraph (4)(b) applied, by the amount attributable to those circumstances; and

 (b) the Basin State does not have a reasonable excuse for the excess.

(3) A Basin State may not rely on a claim that there is a reasonable excuse for an excess unless:

(a) it has provided a report to the Authority and to the InspectorGeneral setting out the reasons for the excess, with evidence for the claim; and

(b) the InspectorGeneral is satisfied that the Basin State has a reasonable excuse as claimed.

Note 1: If the InspectorGeneral is not satisfied that there is a reasonable excuse, there will be noncompliance on the part of the Basin State requiring an action plan under subsection 71(1A) of the Act.

Note 2: It is open to the InspectorGeneral to consult with the Authority and other bodies as appropriate.

(4) A Basin State is taken to have a reasonable excuse for an excess if the excess arises as the result of:

(a) the operation of the water resource plan for the SDL resource unit; or

(b) circumstances beyond the Basin State’s control (for example where, for reasons beyond the Basin State’s control, the Commonwealth has not achieved the water recovery target that it has set for itself in relation to the SDL resource unit).

(5) A Basin State that relies on a claim it has made in accordance with subsection (3) must provide the Authority and the InspectorGeneral, in writing, with a proposed set of actions (an action plan) that the State will take to reach the point where there is no excess under whichever of paragraphs (1)(a) and (2)(a) is then relevant.

Note 1: The Basin State will not need to take steps to the extent there will be an adjustment under paragraph (1)(a) or (2)(a).

Note 2: The InspectorGeneral may conduct, or appoint or establish a person or body to conduct, an audit in relation to compliance using the InspectorGeneral’s powers under the Act. The InspectorGeneral must publish a copy of a report of the audit on the InspectorGeneral’s website or the Department’s website. The findings of such an audit may also lead to further action being taken by the InspectorGeneral to ensure compliance with sections 34, 35, 58 and 59 of the Act.

Part 5—Allocation of risks in relation to reductions in water availability

6.13 Risks arising from reduction in diversion limits

Note: If the SDL for an SDL resource unit is reduced, section 75 of the Act requires the Basin Plan to specify the reduction, and the proportions of the reduction attributable to various categories.

 Section 78 of the Act required the original Basin Plan to specify the limits that applied, immediately before the SDLs imposed by the Basin Plan took effect, to the longterm average amount of water that could be taken for each SDL resource unit under the applicable transitional or interim water resource plans. This is done in subsection (2) below, and the specified limit is used as the baseline from which the reductions are measured.

(1) This section sets out the matters required by Subdivision A of Division 4 of Part 2 of the Act.

(2) For subsection 78(2) of the Act, the longterm average limit on the quantity of water that can be taken from an SDL resource unit that the Authority is satisfied will be applicable immediately before a transitional water resource plan, or interim water resource plan, ceases to have effect is the BDL for the SDL resource unit.

Note: See section 1.07 for the meaning of BDL.

(2A)  For subsection 75(1) of the Act, the reduction is any reduction in the SDL for a SDL resource unit, compared with the limit specified for subsection (2), that results from the application of the SDL set by the Basin Plan from time to time.

(3) For paragraph 75(1)(a) of the Act, the amount of the reduction is the amount by which the BDL for the SDL resource unit exceeds the longterm annual diversion limit for the SDL resource unit.

(4) For paragraph 75(1)(b) of the Act, the Commonwealth Government policy component of the reduction is 100% of the reduction.

(5) For paragraph 75(1)(c) of the Act, the new knowledge component of the reduction is zero.

(6) For paragraph 75(1)(d) of the Act, the Commonwealth’s share of the reduction is 100% of the reduction.

6.14 Risks arising from other changes to the Basin Plan

Nothing in the Basin Plan requires a change in the reliability of water allocations of a kind that would trigger Subdivision B of Division 4 of Part 2 of the Act.

Chapter 7—Adjustment of SDLs

Note: The SDLs will constitute limits from 1 July 2019. The surface water SDLs set out in Schedule 2 on the commencement of the Basin Plan in 2012 were based on:

 This Chapter provides for the Authority to propose adjustments to the SDLs under section 23A of the Act. These will be made by amendment of the Basin Plan under section 23B of the Act.

 Under Part 2, the Authority can propose adjustments to surface water SDLs to take account of:

(a) supply measures and efficiency measures that are notified by a process set out in section 7.12 and will come into operation by 31 December 2026; and

(b) additional HEW entitlements that are acquired from time to time and specified by the Minister under section 7.08B.

 In this Chapter a ‘supply measure’ is a measure that increases the quantity of water available before take for consumptive use. The measure may do this either by making water available for environmental management without reducing consumptive take (e.g. through reducing evaporation losses at suitable storages) or by allowing environmental managers to achieve equivalent outcomes more efficiently, thus reducing the amount of water needed for the environment. Supply measures allow equivalent environmental outcomes to be achieved without needing to reduce consumptive take as much as originally anticipated in the Basin Plan.

 The additional water provided by supply measures will be made available for consumptive use (as it will no longer need to be recovered from such use). An adjustment made because of supply measures will increase the SDL (decrease the reduction amount).

 An ‘efficiency measure’ is one that makes savings in the amount of water required for consumptive purposes. Examples include investment in more efficient irrigation infrastructure. The water saved by efficiency measures will be allocated to environmental use but, due to the nature of efficiency measures, this will achieve neutral or improved social and economic impacts. An adjustment made because of efficiency measures will decrease the SDL (increase the reduction amount).

 An ‘additional HEW entitlement’ is a water access right, water delivery right or irrigation right that was previously used for consumptive purposes, but will now be used for environmental purposes. An adjustment made because of an additional HEW entitlement will decrease the SDL (increase the reduction amount).

Part 1—Preliminary

7.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter provides a mechanism for the Authority to propose adjustments to the SDLs under section 23A of the Act on the basis of:

(a) new measures that will increase the supply of water or the efficiency of water use (Part 2); or

(b) new acquisitions of held environmental water that was previously used for consumptive purposes (Part 2); or

(c) new or improved information relating to groundwater SDL resource units (Part 4).

7.02 Interpretation

(1) In this Chapter:

additional efficiency entitlement, for a surface water SDL resource unit, is a water access entitlement that:

(a) is sourced from the unit; and

(b) is held environmental water; and

(c) is acquired before 1 January 2027 by the Commonwealth or another person in conjunction with, or to take advantage of the water savings achieved by, an additional efficiency measure.

additional efficiency measure means an efficiency measure that has been notified under subsection 7.12(2).

additional HEW contribution has the meaning given by Division 4 of Part 2 (in particular section 7.16A).

additional HEW entitlement means a water access right, a water delivery right or an irrigation right, or part of such a right, specified by the Minister under section 7.08B to be an additional HEW entitlement.

additional supply measure means a supply measure that has been notified under subsection 7.12(2A).

affected unit means a surface water SDL resource unit that is an affected unit for a notified measure or additional efficiency measure under paragraph 7.12(4)(b).

anticipated measure means a measure that is part of the benchmark conditions of development.

Note: This includes various measures expected to be in operation by 2019, including as a result of investments that the Commonwealth is committed to funding, that are expected to recover the equivalent of at least 600 GL of water per year.

benchmark conditions of development means the conditions of development that were assumed in the benchmark model described in Schedule 6 when the model was used to set the unadjusted SDLs for the Basin Plan.

Note 1:  These conditions include the infrastructure, rules and practices that were assumed in the benchmark model, including certain measures that were not yet in effect but were expected to be in place by 2019, including as a result of investments that the Commonwealth is committed to funding and are expected to recover the equivalent of at least 600 GL of water per year.

Note 2: The Authority will, in consultation with the Basin Officials Committee, prepare and publish a report detailing the benchmark conditions of development as soon as practicable after the Basin Plan is made.

benchmark environmental outcomes has the meaning given in subsection 7.15(2).

constraint measure means a measure that removes or eases a physical or other constraint on the capacity to deliver environmental water to the environmental assets of the MurrayDarling Basin.

Note: Examples include:

 raising of bridges to allow higher regulated flows in watercourses and floodplains;

 acquisition of easements to allow inundation of private land in conjunction with making regulated releases of environmental water.

efficiency contribution has the meaning given by Division 4 of Part 2 (in particular section 7.16).

efficiency entitlement, for a surface water SDL resource unit, means a water access entitlement that:

(a) is sourced from the unit; and

(b) is held environmental water; and

(c) is acquired before 1 January 2027 by the Commonwealth or another person in conjunction with, or to take advantage of the water savings achieved by, a notified efficiency measure.

efficiency measure has the meaning given by section 7.04.

measure means a set of works or measures undertaken or funded by the Commonwealth or a Basin State, including but not limited to the following:

(a) changes to water infrastructure;

(b) changes to other infrastructure that affect the hydrology of the Basin;

(c) changes to legal requirements, including to Commonwealth or State laws, that affect the way water is used;

(d) changes in river management and river operational practices;

(e) changes in methods of delivering water.

notified measure means a measure that has been notified under subsection 7.12(1) or (1A), and notified efficiency measure and notified supply measure have corresponding meanings.

reference time has the meaning given by subsection 23A(5) of the Act.

supply contribution has the meaning given by Division 4 of Part 2 (in particular section 7.15).

supply measure has the meaning given by section 7.03.

varying HEW contribution has the meaning given by section 7.21.

(2)  A reference in this Chapter and in Schedule 6A to a water access right, a water delivery right, an irrigation right or a water access entitlement includes a reference to a part of such a right or entitlement.

7.03 Meaning of supply measure

A supply measure is a measure that operates to increase the quantity of water available to be taken in a set of surface water SDL resource units compared with the quantity available under the benchmark conditions of development.

Note: Examples include:

 reconfiguring suitable lakes or storage systems to reduce evaporation;

 reducing the quantity of water required to deliver water at a particular place, whether for purposes of consumptive use or for environmental use;

 changing the methods of environmental watering in such a way that equivalent environmental outcomes can be achieved with a smaller quantity of water than was required under the benchmark conditions of development.

7.04 Meaning of efficiency measure

An efficiency measure is a measure that operates to decrease the quantity of water required for one or more consumptive uses in a set of surface water SDL resource units, compared with the quantity required under the benchmark conditions of development.

Note: Examples include:

 lining channels to reduce water losses within an irrigation network;

 replacement of less efficient irrigation methods with drip irrigation.

7.05 Consultation with Basin Officials Committee

(1) In determining the amounts of proposed adjustments in accordance with this Chapter, the Authority must seek and consider advice from the Basin Officials Committee.

(2) The Authority must seek the advice of the Basin Officials Committee at least 1 month before proposing adjustments in accordance with this Chapter.

7.06 Public consultation

Before finalising a determination of the amounts of proposed adjustments in accordance with this Chapter, the Authority must:

(a) publish a draft determination of the amounts of the proposed adjustments on its website, with an account of how they were arrived at and the reasons for decisions made in arriving at the draft determination; and

(b) invite the public to make submissions about the draft determination within a period of not less than 1 month.

7.07 Combined proposals

(1) The Authority may make proposals under Parts 2 and 4 at the same time.

(2) Where this is done, the Authority may, for the purpose of section 23B of the Act, treat the proposals as a single proposal and prepare a set of amendments that gives effect to the net effect of the proposals.

7.08 Constraints management strategy

(1) Within 12 months after the commencement of the Basin Plan, the Authority must prepare a constraints management strategy that:

(a) identifies and describes the physical, operational and management constraints that are affecting, or have the potential to affect, environmental water delivery; and

(b) assists all jurisdictions to participate in constraint measures in order to allow environmental water to be used to maximum effect and to maximise the benefits of any increase in held environmental water; and

(c) evaluates options, opportunities and risks to water users, communities and the environment, associated with addressing key constraints, including through constraint measures that are relevant to measures that might be notified under section 7.12; and

(d) assesses the impacts of modifications of constraints on environmental water delivery and third parties, as well as downstream impacts, and assesses options to address those impacts; and

(e) identifies mechanisms by which impacts on third parties can be addressed.

(2) The strategy, and any substantive amendments to the strategy, must be prepared in consultation with the Basin States and the public.

(4) The Authority must publish the strategy on its website.

7.08A  Constraints relaxation implementation roadmap

(1) The object of this section is to assist the Commonwealth and Basin States to identify measures to relax constraints, and develop and implement them in a way that:

(a) maximises the benefits of the constraint measures to deliver environmental outcomes, including but not limited to enhanced environmental outcomes and outcomes identified by the Constraints Management Strategy; and

(b) provides, as far as practicable, a common approach across river systems and jurisdictions including, but not limited to, in relation to:

(i) reporting, transparency and public accountability; and

(ii) program implementation and governance including regulatory approvals; and

(iii) supporting the acceleration of constraint measures by 31 December 2026; and

(iv) managing impacts on third parties.

(2) The Authority must prepare a roadmap for the purpose of achieving the object of this section by 31 December 2024.

(3) The roadmap, and any substantive amendments to the roadmap, must be prepared in consultation with the Basin States, the Commonwealth and the public.

(4) The Authority must publish the roadmap on its website.

7.08B  Minister may specify additional HEW entitlements

(1) The Minister may specify in a written instrument given to the Authority, in accordance with this section, that a water access right, a water delivery right, or an irrigation right, for a surface water SDL resource unit, or part of such a right, is an additional HEW entitlement.

Note: Under subsection 33(3) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901, such a specification may be revoked, amended or varied in the same way.

(2) The right, or the part of the right, must:

(a) be sourced from the unit; and

(b) be held environmental water; and

(c) if specified after 31 December 2027—have become, or been contracted to become, held environmental water before that date; and

(d) not have become held environmental water as a result of notified efficiency measures or additional efficiency measures, except as provided in subsection (4).

Note: Water access rights, water delivery rights and irrigation rights are types of rights that fall within the definition of held environmental water (see subsection 4(1) of the Act).

(3) The Minister must be satisfied that the right or the part of the right:

(a) decreases the amount of water taken for consumptive use relative to the benchmark conditions of development; and

(b) increases the volume of the Basin water resources that is available for environmental use; and

(c) will contribute to enhancing environmental outcomes as mentioned in subsection 86AA(1) of the Act, including the outcomes set out in Schedule 5 to the Basin Plan.

(4) For paragraph (2)(d), the exception is that:

(a) the right, or the part of the right, is specified after 31 December 2026; and

(b) it was not included in the determination for paragraph 7.21(2)(a) (whether or not it was on the register mentioned in section 7.13 on 31 December 2026).

(5) If a right, or a part of a right, specified in reliance on subsection (4) was an efficiency entitlement or additional efficiency entitlement, it ceases to be an entitlement of that kind.

Part 2—Adjustment of surface water SDLs

Division 1—Objective

7.09 Objective

  The objective for this Part is to allow surface water SDLs to be adjusted to reflect the effects of:

(aa)  measures that increase the supply of water or the efficiency of water use, and are notified under this Part; and

(ab)  additional HEW entitlements specified under section 7.08B;

so that:

(a) for efficiency measures—environmental outcomes are increased while maintaining or improving social and economic outcomes; and

(b) for supply measures—equivalent environmental outcomes are achieved with a lower volume of held environmental water than would otherwise be required; and

Note: Some jurisdictions anticipate that such measures may be able to provide the equivalent of 650 GL per year of water, reducing the quantity of water access rights the Commonwealth will need to acquire to ‘bridge the gap’.

(c) where constraints on the capacity to deliver environmental water are removed or eased—available environmental water can be used to maximum effect; and

(d) enhanced economic, social and environmental outcomes compared with the benchmark environmental outcomes and benchmark conditions of development can be achieved for the MurrayDarling Basin, including through more efficient water use, improved river operations, improved outcomes for the River Murray floodplain, River Murray river water quality, estuarine health, Murray Mouth opening, higher average lake levels and increased instream flows and variability; and

(e) the easing or removal of constraints and the addition of 450 GL per year of environmental water above the 2750 GL benchmark conditions of development, under the Commonwealth’s program, allow the enhanced environmental outcomes as set out in Schedule 5 to be pursued as compared to the benchmark environmental outcomes.

Note 1:  The Commonwealth program to ease or remove capacity constraints and deliver 450 GL of additional environmental water is to improve the environmental outcomes beyond those achievable under the 2750 GL benchmark by a further 450 GL and thus pursue the environmental outcomes set out in Schedule 5 that reflect the results of the 3200 GL per year modelling with relaxed constraints scenario reported in: MDBA (MurrayDarling Basin Authority) 2012, Hydrologic modelling of the relaxation of operational constraints in the southern connected system: Methods and results, MDBA publication no: 76/12, MurrayDarling Basin Authority, Canberra. http://download.mdba.gov.au/alteredPBP/HydrologicmodellingrelaxedconstraintsOctober2012.pdf

Note 2: The Commonwealth’s program referred to in paragraph (e) includes the program that is expected to spend $1.77 billion by 31 December 2027 under the Water for the Environment Special Account.

Division 2—When Authority must propose appropriate adjustments

7.10 Initial adjustments to be proposed in 2017

(1) If the Authority has received a notification of measures under subsection 7.12(1) or (1A), it must, as soon as practicable after 30 June 2017 and no later than 15 December 2017:

(a) for each affected unit, determine the amounts of proposed adjustments resulting from the notified measures in accordance with Division 4; and

(b) propose accordingly, under section 23A of the Act:

(i) an adjustment of the SDL for each affected unit; and

(ii) an adjustment of the SDL for the Basin water resources equal to the net effect of the adjustments for all the affected units.

Note: Under section 23B of the Act, the Authority is then required to prepare appropriate amendments of the Basin Plan, for adoption by the Minister.

(2) The Authority must advise the Minister on the implications of a proposal for any declared Ramsar wetland.

7.11 Reconciliation adjustments to be proposed in 2026

(1)  If it appears to the Authority that a new determination of the appropriate adjustment amounts, made in accordance with Division 4, resulting from the effects, as at 31 December 2026, of the following:

(a) notified measures;

(b) additional supply measures;

(c) additional efficiency measures;

(d) additional HEW entitlements;

would produce adjusted SDLs for one or more SDL resource units different from those that resulted from the determination made for the purpose of section 7.10, the Authority must, by that date:

(e) determine those adjustment amounts for each affected unit; and

(f) propose accordingly, under section 23A of the Act:

(i) an adjustment of the SDL for each affected unit; and

(ii) an adjustment of the SDL for the Basin water resources equal to the net effect of the adjustments for all the affected units.

Note 1: Since the adjustments to the SDLs proposed under section 7.10 were made to the Basin Plan, there has been a further set of adjustments made by the Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Act 2023, as well as changes to Division 4.

Note 2: Under section 23B of the Act, the Authority is then required to prepare appropriate amendments of the Basin Plan, for adoption by the Minister.

Note 3: This section might apply if, for example, a notified measure has been withdrawn or an additional supply or efficiency measure has been notified, or an additional HEW entitlement has been registered.

(2) The Authority must advise the Minister on the implications of a proposal for any declared Ramsar wetland.

Division 3—Notification and recording of relevant matters

7.12 Notification of measures relevant to adjustment of SDLs

First notification of supply measures or efficiency measures 

(1) The Basin Officials Committee may, by 30 June 2016, notify the Authority of 1 or more supply measures or efficiency measures that, in the view of the Committee, should be taken into account in proposing adjustments under section 7.10 or 7.11.

Second notification of supply measures or efficiency measures 

(1A) The Basin Officials Committee may, after 30 June 2016 but on or before 30 June 2017, notify the Authority of 1 or more supply measures or efficiency measures that, in the view of the Committee, should be taken into account in proposing adjustments under section 7.10 or 7.11.

Notification of additional efficiency measures 

(2) The person (the Basin State or Commonwealth) funding or undertaking an efficiency measure may, after 30 June 2017 but on or before 30 June 2025, notify the Authority of 1 or more efficiency measures that, in the view of the person, should be taken into account in proposing adjustments under section 7.11.

Notification of additional supply measures

(2A) The Basin Officials Committee may, on or before 30 June 2025, notify the Authority of 1 or more supply measures that, in the view of the Committee, should be taken into account in proposing adjustments under section 7.11.

Requirements for all notifications 

(3) A measure may be notified only if:

(a) it will enter operation by 31 December 2026; and

(b) it is not an anticipated measure; and

(c) the person (the Basin State or Commonwealth) funding or undertaking the measure agrees with the notification.

(4) A notification must include, for each measure:

(a) details of the measure; and

(b) the surface water SDL resource units affected by the measure (the affected units for the measure); and

(c) details of any constraint measure that may be relevant; and

(d) the date on which the measure entered into operation, or by which it will enter into operation.

(5) A notification must be amended by 30 June 2026 if any information under subsection (4) has changed.

(6) A notification must be amended by 30 June 2026 to withdraw a measure if it appears that the measure will not enter into operation by 31 December 2026.

(6A) A notification may be amended to withdraw the measure under subsection (6) by the person who notified the measure or by the Commonwealth.

(7) Subsections (5), (6) and (6A) do not apply after 30 June 2026.

7.13  Register of measures

(1) The Authority must maintain a register that includes the following:

(a) each measure of the following kinds, with the information mentioned in section 7.12:

(i) the notified efficiency measures;

(ii) the notified supply measures;

(iii) the additional efficiency measures;

(iv) the additional supply measures;

(b) for each surface water SDL resource unit—each entitlement of the following kinds as it applies from time to time:

(i) the efficiency entitlements;

(ii) the additional efficiency entitlements;

(iii) the additional HEW entitlements;

(c) for each kind of entitlement for a surface water SDL resource unit—the longterm average quantity of water, in GL per year, that is available under the entitlements of that kind from time to time.

(2) Until an adjustment is proposed under section 7.11, the register must include, for each surface water SDL resource unit, estimates of the likely:

(a) efficiency contribution; and

(b) supply contribution; and

(c) additional HEW contribution;

as at 31 December 2026, and

(d) to the extent practicable, the likely SDL adjustment amount for the unit for the purposes of section 7.21.

(3) The Authority must publish the register on its website.

(4) Subparagraphs (1)(b)(i) and (ii) apply to a water access entitlement whether it became held environmental water before or after the relevant measure was notified.

Division 4—Determining amounts of adjustments

7.14 Preliminary

This Division sets out the steps the Authority must take to determine the amounts of adjustments to SDLs that it will propose because of the notified measures, the additional efficiency measures, the additional supply measures and the additional HEW entitlements.

7.14A Shared reduction amounts to be applied in determining adjustments

(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Authority must determine the amounts of adjustments under this Division to the SDL for an SDL resource unit on the basis that the SDL resource unit shared reduction amount for the unit is the amount calculated under subsection 6.05(4).

(2) If a Basin State has made a reallocation adjustment request for this section, the Authority must determine the amounts of adjustments under this Division to the SDL for an SDL resource unit applying the SDL resource unit shared reduction amount requested by the State for that unit.

(3) For this section:

reallocation adjustment request means a request made by a Basin State to the Authority to adjust the SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts for SDL resource units that are within a zone mentioned in subsection 6.05(2), being a request that:

(a) either:

(i) was made before 1 July 2016, for the purposes of section 7.23 as it stood before the repeal of that section by the Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1), and has not been withdrawn or replaced by a request referred to in subparagraph (ii); or

(ii) was made between 1 July 2016 and 30 June 2017, and expressed to be made in anticipation of the insertion of this section by the Basin Plan Amendment Instrument 2017 (No. 1); and

(b) has the effect that:

(i) the total of the SDLs for each zone remains the same; and

(ii) no SDL resource unit has an SDL that is larger than would result from replacing its shared reduction amount with zero.

Note 1: The same SDL resource unit shared reduction amounts were used for the purpose of calculating the initial adjustments proposed in 2017 and will be used in any reconciliation adjustments in 2026.

Note 2: A request for this section is not a reallocation adjustment request for the purposes of section 6.05.

7.15 Contribution to adjustments from supply measures

(1) Subject to this Division, the total supply contribution of the notified measures is the total increase in the SDLs for all the units affected by notified supply measures or additional supply measures that will ensure that, calculated in accordance with the applicable method on the basis of:

(a) a repeat of the historical climate conditions; and

(b) the benchmark conditions of development modified by:

(i) the addition of the notified supply measures and additional supply measures; and

(ii) the removal of any unimplemented policy measures;

the following results occur, as compared with the benchmark environmental outcomes:

(c) there are equivalent environmental outcomes; and

(d) there are no detrimental impacts on reliability of supply of water to the holders of water access rights that are not offset or negated.

Note: The determination is based on the effect that the supply measures will have when they come into operation, whether or not they have done so by the time the measures are notified under section 7.12. The additional supply measures were not included in this provision at the time adjustments were proposed under section 7.10.

(2) In this section:

applicable method means:

(a) the default method set out in Schedule 6; or

(b) if the Authority, having consulted the Basin Officials Committee, decides that another method is preferable—that method.

benchmark environmental outcomes means the environmental outcomes in the model that, in accordance with the applicable method, would be achieved if:

(a) the SDLs were at the levels set in the Basin Plan when it commenced; and

(b) the benchmark conditions of development applied in the MurrayDarling Basin.

unimplemented policy measure means an anticipated measure consisting of a policy to:

(a) credit environmental return flows for downstream environmental use; or

(b) allow the call of held environmental water from storage during unregulated flow events;

to the extent, if any, that the measure, at the time of the determination, is not expected to, or did not, come into effect by 30 June 2019.

7.16 Contribution to adjustments from efficiency measures

Efficiency contribution for 2017 determination

(1) For a determination for the purpose of section 7.10, and subject to this Division, the efficiency contribution of the notified measures for each affected unit at a particular time is a decrease in the SDL for the unit equal to the quantity of water, in GL per year, that is registered as being available under the efficiency entitlements for the unit.

Note 1: The efficiency contributions are expected to vary over time as relevant water access entitlements are acquired.

Note 2:  The Authority will use longterm diversion limit equivalent factors to convert water access entitlements into a common unit for the purpose of the determinations.

Efficiency contribution for 2026 determination

(2) For a determination for the purpose of section 7.11, and subject to this Division, the efficiency contribution of the notified measures and additional efficiency measures for each affected unit at a particular time is a decrease in the SDL for the unit equal to the quantity of water, in GL per year, that is registered as being available under the efficiency entitlements and additional efficiency entitlements for the unit.

Note: Efficiency contributions will end on 31 December 2026. Under section 7.08B, the Minister may specify efficiency entitlements and additional efficiency entitlements acquired after 31 December 2026 as additional HEW entitlements.

(3) In this section, registered means shown on the register maintained under section 7.13.

7.16A  Contribution to adjustments from additional HEW entitlements

(1) For a determination for the purpose of section 7.11, and subject to this Division, the additional HEW contribution of the additional HEW entitlements for each affected unit at a particular time is a decrease in the SDL for the unit equal to the quantity of water, in GL per year, that is registered as being available under additional HEW entitlements for the unit.

Note 1: The additional HEW contributions are expected to vary over time as relevant water access rights, water delivery rights or irrigation rights are acquired.

Note 2: The Authority will use longterm diversion limit equivalent factors to convert water access rights, water delivery rights and irrigation rights into a common unit for the purpose of the determinations.

(2) In this section, registered means shown on the register maintained under section 7.13.

7.17 Ensuring that criteria for amounts of adjustments are satisfied

(1) If, after calculating the total supply and efficiency contributions under sections 7.15 and 7.16, the Authority is not satisfied that a determination of proposed adjustments based on those amounts, disregarding the additional HEW entitlements mentioned in paragraph 7.11(1)(d), could be made under this Division that satisfies the criteria below, the Authority may reduce the total supply contribution, or the efficiency contribution for any affected unit, to a level at which such a determination could be made.

(2) The applicable criteria are the following:

Equivalent environmental outcomes 

(a) The supply contributions to the proposed adjustments achieve equivalent environmental outcomes compared with the benchmark environmental outcomes.

Neutral or improved socioeconomic outcomes

(b) The efficiency contributions to the proposed adjustments achieve neutral or improved socioeconomic outcomes compared with the outcomes under benchmark conditions of development as evidenced by:

(i) the participation of consumptive water users in projects that recover water through works to improve irrigation water use efficiency on their farms; or

 (ia) the participation of consumptive water users in projects that recover water through works to improve water use efficiency offfarm; or

(ii) alternative arrangements proposed by a Basin State, assessed by that State as achieving water recovery with neutral or improved socioeconomic outcomes.

Use of approval process

(c) Any processes approved by the MurrayDarling Basin Ministerial Council for developing initiatives for satisfying these criteria, including opportunities for public consultation, have been observed.

7.18 Apportionment of supply contribution to affected units

The Authority must apportion the total supply contribution for the notified supply measures and additional supply measures to give each affected unit a supply contribution in a way that:

(a) ensures that the sum of the supply contributions is the total supply contribution; and

(b) complies with any agreement relating to the apportionment of supply contributions that has been reached by the Commonwealth and States.

7.19 Overall limitation on size of adjustment amounts

If, at a particular time before the commencement of any adjustments proposed under section 7.11, the net effect of the total supply contribution, the total efficiency contribution and the total additional HEW contribution under sections 7.15 to 7.17 is an increase or decrease of more than 5% of the total surface water SDL for the Basin water resources as it stood at the reference time, the size of the supply contribution, the efficiency contribution and the additional HEW contribution for each affected unit are reduced in proportion so that the net effect is equal to that amount.

Note: This section allows a supply contribution, an efficiency contribution or an additional HEW contribution of more than 5% of total surface water SDL to each be given full effect in an adjustment, provided that the net effect across the Basin is within the 5% limit.

7.20 Final determination of amounts in 2017

(1) For the purpose of section 7.10, the Authority may make a determination to propose adjustments only if:

(a) it has considered any advice from the Basin Officials Committee and submissions from members of the public; and

(b) it is satisfied that the proposed adjustments meet the criteria under section 7.17.

(2) The Authority must determine supply contributions as at 30 June 2017.

Note: Some of the supply measures may not be operating by that date. The determination is based on the effect that they will have when they have come into operation by 2024.

(3) The Authority must determine the amounts of the proposed adjustments as:

(a) an adjustment of the SDL for each affected unit equal to the net effect of supply and efficiency contributions for the unit; and

(b) an adjustment of the SDL for the Basin water resources equal to the net effect of the adjustments for all the affected units.

(4) A proposed adjustment must be in the form of a formula as a function of time, either varying continuously or changing at specified times, that reflects the changes up until 30 June 2024 of:

(a) the relevant efficiency contributions; and

(b) the operation of the overall limit on adjustments in section 7.19.

7.21  Final determination of amounts in 2026

(1) For the purpose of section 7.11, the Authority may make a determination of the proposed adjustments only if:

(a) it has considered any advice from the Basin Officials Committee and submissions from members of the public; and

(b) it is satisfied that the proposed adjustments meet the criteria under section 7.17.

(2) The Authority must determine the following as they are expected to be on 31 December 2026:

(a) the efficiency contributions;

(b) the supply contributions;

(c) the additional HEW contributions.

(3) The Authority must:

(a) determine the adjustments (the overall adjustments) that would be appropriate to:

(i) reflect:

(A) the notified measures, the additional supply measures, the additional efficiency measures and the additional HEW entitlements as determined for subsection (2); and

(B) the varying HEW contribution; and

(ii) comply with the limit on the size of proposed adjustments under subsection 23A(4) of the Act;

(b) calculate, for each affected unit, the difference between the 2017 SDLs as they would be if adjusted by the overall adjustments, and the current SDLs (the difference for the unit); and

(c) determine the amounts of the proposed adjustments as:

(i) an adjustment of the SDL for each affected unit equal to the difference for the unit; and

(ii) an adjustment of the SDL for the Basin water resources equal to the net effect of the adjustments for all the affected units.

(4) An amendment to give effect to the proposed adjustments must be in the form of an amendment to the Basin Plan that would result in the SDL for each affected unit being expressed as:

(a) a fixed element; and

(b) the varying HEW contribution, in the form of a formula as a function of time, either varying continuously or changing at specified times from 31 December 2026 onward.

(5) In this section:

2017 SDL, for a SDL resource unit, means the SDL that applied immediately before the adjustments made as a result of a proposal under section 7.10.

Note: Those adjustments commenced on 13 January 2018.

current SDLs means the SDLs in the Basin Plan as amended by the Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Act 2023.

register means the register maintained under section 7.13.

varying HEW contribution for an SDL resource unit, at any time after 31 December 2026, is the difference between the additional HEW contributions shown on the register as being available for the unit at that time, and the additional HEW contributions determined for paragraph (2)(c).

Part 4—Adjustments relating to groundwater

7.24 Objective

The objective for this Part is to allow SDLs for groundwater SDL resource units to be adjusted to reflect new or improved information about their groundwater resources.

7.25 Adjustments relating to groundwater

(1) The Authority may propose, under section 23A of the Act, an adjustment of the SDL for a groundwater SDL resource unit if better information becomes available about the groundwater resources of the unit and the factors relevant to setting the SDL, in particular information about:

(a) recharge rates; or

(b) connectivity with surface water; or

(c) usage patterns; or

(d) Basin State policy and planning settings.

(2) In determining the amount of the proposed adjustment, the Authority must be satisfied that, in the light of the better information, the SDL for the unit:

(a) may be increased by the amount of the proposed adjustment and still represent an environmentally sustainable level of take; or

(b) should be decreased by the amount of the proposed adjustment to represent an environmentally sustainable level of take.

Note: Under section 23B of the Act, the Authority is then required to prepare appropriate amendments of the Basin Plan, for adoption by the Minister.

(3) A proposal in accordance with this section may be made as soon as practicable after 30 June 2016, or at any time after 30 June 2019.

7.26 Overall limitation on size of groundwater adjustment amounts

The Authority may not propose an adjustment under this Part if the result would be that the net effect of all adjustments proposed under this Part since the reference time would represent an increase or decrease of more than 5% of the total groundwater SDL for the Basin water resources as it stood at the reference time.

Part 5—Independent audit of calculations

7.27 Independent audit of Authority’s calculations

(1) The Authority may appoint or establish a person or body that is independent of the Authority to audit calculations made by the Authority for the purpose of Parts 2 and 4.

(1A) The InspectorGeneral may:

(a) audit calculations made by the Authority for the purposes of Parts 2 and 4; or

(b) appoint or establish a person or body that is independent of the Authority to audit calculations made by the Authority for the purposes of Parts 2 and 4.

(2) The person or body conducting any audit must:

(a) produce a report setting out the findings of the audit; and

(b) before the report is finalised, provide the Authority, the InspectorGeneral (unless the InspectorGeneral is conducting the audit), the Commonwealth and each Basin State with an opportunity to comment on the proposed findings.

Chapter 8—Environmental watering plan

Part 1—Preliminary

8.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter sets out the environmental watering plan (item 9 of the table in subsection 22(1) and section 28 of the Act).

(3) The environmental watering plan specifies:

(a) the overall environmental objectives for the waterdependent ecosystems of the MurrayDarling Basin (Part 2); and

(b) targets by which to measure progress towards achieving those objectives (Part 3); and

(c) an environmental management framework for planned environmental water and held environmental water (Part 4); and

Note 1: See section 8.10 for a detailed outline of the elements of the environmental management framework.

Note 2: The principles to be applied in environmental watering are specified in Division 6 of Part 4.

(d) the methods to be used to identify environmental assets in the MurrayDarling Basin that will require environmental watering (Part 5); and

(e) the principles to be applied, and the method to be used, to determine the priorities for applying environmental water (including applying that water to environmental assets that are identified using the methods in paragraph (d)) (Part 6).

8.02 Purpose of Chapter

(1) The purpose of the environmental watering plan is to achieve the objectives in Part 2 and give effect to the principles in Division 6 of Part 4 by:

(a) coordinating the planning, prioritisation and use of environmental water on both a longterm and an annual basis; and

(b) enabling adaptive management to be applied to the planning, prioritisation and use of environmental water; and

(c) facilitating consultation, coordination and cooperative arrangements, where possible, between the Authority, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Basin States; and

(d) enabling information to be shared between the Authority, the Commonwealth, Basin States, holders of held environmental water and managers of planned environmental water to ensure efficient and effective use of environmental water.

(2) This section does not limit the operation of this Chapter.

Note: Subsection 1.02(2) states that the Basin Plan has the effect provided for in sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 86G and 86H of the Act.

8.03 Effect of environmental watering plan on Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

(1) The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder must perform its functions and exercise its powers in a way that is consistent with:

(a) the environmental watering plan; and

(b) the Basinwide environmental watering strategy.

(2) When performing its functions and exercising its powers, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder must have regard to the Basin annual environmental watering priorities.

Note: The Act imposes other obligations onto the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder that relate to the environmental watering plan. See sections 105, 106 and 114 of the Act.

Part 2—Overall environmental objectives for waterdependent ecosystems

Note: This Part sets out overall environmental objectives and particular objectives for each of those objectives.

These objectives will be met in part by the provision of environmental water, but will also be supported by other management actions. See also subsections 22(9) to (12) of the Act.

8.04 Overall environmental objectives

The overall environmental objectives for the waterdependent ecosystems of the MurrayDarling Basin are, within the context of a working MurrayDarling Basin:

(a) to protect and restore waterdependent ecosystems of the MurrayDarling Basin; and

(b) to protect and restore the ecosystem functions of waterdependent ecosystems; and

(c) to ensure that waterdependent ecosystems are resilient to climate change and other risks and threats.

Note:  The fact that water storages and properties (including floodplains) are under the control of various persons currently restricts the capacity to actively manage all waterdependent ecosystems.

8.05 Protection and restoration of waterdependent ecosystems

(1) This section sets out particular objectives relating to the protection and restoration of the waterdependent ecosystems of the MurrayDarling Basin.

(2) An objective is to protect and restore a subset of all waterdependent ecosystems of the MurrayDarling Basin, including by ensuring that:

(a) declared Ramsar wetlands that depend on Basin water resources maintain their ecological character; and

Note: See paragraph 21(3)(c) of the Act.

(b) waterdependent ecosystems that depend on Basin water resources and support the life cycles of species listed under the Bonn Convention, CAMBA, JAMBA or ROKAMBA continue to support those species; and

(c) waterdependent ecosystems are able to support episodically high ecological productivity and its ecological dispersal.

(3) An objective is to protect and restore biodiversity that is dependent on Basin water resources by ensuring that:

(a) waterdependent ecosystems that support the life cycles of a listed threatened species or listed threatened ecological community, or species treated as threatened or endangered (however described) in State law, are protected and, if necessary, restored so that they continue to support those life cycles; and

(b) representative populations and communities of native biota are protected and, if necessary, restored.

8.06 Protection and restoration of ecosystem functions of waterdependent ecosystems

(1) This section sets out particular objectives relating to the protection and restoration of the ecosystem functions of waterdependent ecosystems.

(2) An objective is that the water quality of Basin water resources does not adversely affect waterdependent ecosystems and is consistent with the water quality and salinity management plan.

(3) An objective is to protect and restore connectivity within and between waterdependent ecosystems, including by ensuring that:

(a) the diversity and dynamics of geomorphic structures, habitats, species and genes are protected and restored; and

(b) ecological processes dependent on hydrologic connectivity:

(i) longitudinally along watercourses; and

(ii) laterally between watercourses and their floodplains (and associated wetlands); and

(iii) vertically between the surface and subsurface;

are protected and restored; and

(c) the Murray Mouth remains open at frequencies, for durations, and with passing flows, sufficient to enable the conveyance of salt, nutrients and sediment from the MurrayDarling Basin to the ocean; and

(d) the Murray Mouth remains open at frequencies, and for durations, sufficient to ensure that the tidal exchanges maintain the Coorong’s water quality (in particular salinity levels) within the tolerance of the Coorong ecosystem’s resilience; and

Note: This is to ensure that water quality is maintained at a level that does not compromise the ecosystem and that hydrologic connectivity is restored and maintained.

(e) the levels of the Lower Lakes are managed to ensure sufficient discharge to the Coorong and Murray Mouth and help prevent river bank collapse and acidification of wetlands below Lock 1, and to avoid acidification and allow connection between Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, by:

(i) maintaining levels above 0.4 metres Australian Height Datum for 95% of the time, as far as practicable; and

(ii) maintaining levels above 0.0 metres Australian Height Datum all of the time; and

(f) barriers to the passage of biological resources (including biota, carbon and nutrients) through the MurrayDarling Basin are overcome or mitigated.

(4) An objective is that natural instream and floodplain processes that shape landforms (for example, the formation and maintenance of soils) are protected and restored.

(5) An objective is to support habitat diversity for biota at a range of scales (including, for example, the MurrayDarling Basin, riverine landscape, river reach and asset class).

(6) An objective is to protect and restore ecosystem functions of waterdependent ecosystems that maintain populations (for example recruitment, regeneration, dispersal, immigration and emigration) including by ensuring that:

(a) flow sequences, and inundation and recession events, meet ecological requirements (for example, cues for migration, germination and breeding); and

(b) habitat diversity, extent, condition and connectivity that supports the life cycles of biota of waterdependent ecosystems (for example, habitats that protect juveniles from predation) is maintained.

(7) An objective is to protect and restore ecological community structure, species interactions and food webs that sustain waterdependent ecosystems, including by protecting and restoring energy, carbon and nutrient dynamics, primary production and respiration.

8.07 Ensuring waterdependent ecosystems are resilient to climate change and other risks and threats

(1) This section sets out particular objectives relating to ensuring that waterdependent ecosystems are resilient to climate change and other risks and threats.

(2) An objective is that waterdependent ecosystems are resilient to climate change, climate variability and disturbances (for example, drought and fire).

(3) An objective is to protect refugia in order to support the longterm survival and resilience of waterdependent populations of native flora and fauna, including during drought to allow for subsequent recolonisation beyond the refugia.

(4) An objective is to provide wetting and drying cycles and inundation intervals that do not exceed the tolerance of ecosystem resilience or the threshold of irreversible change.

(5) An objective is to mitigate humaninduced threats (for example, the impact of alien species, water management activities and degraded water quality).

(6) An objective is to minimise habitat fragmentation.

Part 3—Targets by which to measure progress towards objectives

Note:     Section 13.09 requires the Authority to conduct a review of the environmental watering plan every 5 years. This review will include a review of the targets.

8.08 Targets by which to measure progress towards achieving objectives

(1) The targets by which to measure progress towards achieving the objectives in Part 2 are set out in Schedule 7.

(2) As the targets will be used to measure progress towards achieving the objectives in Part 2:

(a) the achievement of the objectives in Part 2 should be given priority over the achievement of the targets; and

(b) the failure to achieve a target does not in itself mean that a person has acted inconsistently with the environmental watering plan.

8.09 Assessment of progress towards objectives in Part 2

The Authority must measure progress towards achieving the objectives in Part 2 by using the targets in Schedule 7 having regard to the following:

(a) progress towards achieving the longterm average sustainable diversion limits;

(b) ecological objectives and ecological targets set out in longterm watering plans;

(c) climatic conditions;

(d) the Basinwide environmental watering strategy;

(e) Basin annual environmental watering priorities;

(f) any information collected, or analysis undertaken, under Chapter 13;

(g) the outcomes of any review of the environmental watering plan.

Note:  See section 13.09.

Part 4—Environmental management framework

Division 1—Preliminary

8.10 Outline of this Part

This Part sets out the environmental management framework, which includes:

(a) processes to coordinate the planning, prioritisation and use of planned environmental water and held environmental water, under which:

(i) the Authority is obliged to prepare a Basinwide environmental watering strategy (Division 2); and

(ii) each Basin State is obliged to prepare longterm watering plans for water resource plan areas (Division 3); and

(iii) each Basin State is obliged to identify annual environmental watering priorities for water resource plan areas (Division 4); and

(iv) the Authority is obliged to identify Basin annual environmental watering priorities (Division 5); and

(b) the principles to be applied in environmental watering (Division 6); and

(c) a mechanism to enable the Authority to coordinate the recovery of additional environmental water (Division 7).

8.11 Objectives of environmental management framework

The environmental management framework is intended to:

(a) coordinate the planning, prioritisation and use of environmental water on both a longterm and an annual basis; and

(b) enable adaptive management to be applied to the planning, prioritisation and use of environmental water; and

(c) facilitate consultation, coordination and cooperative arrangements between the Authority, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Basin States;

in order to achieve the objectives in Part 2.

Note: The application of adaptive management will enable various triggers to be responded to, including any adjustment that might be made to the SDL.

8.12 Interpretation

In this Part:

updated: a plan is taken to have been updated if it is reviewed and remade, whether or not the plan was amended as a result of the review.

Division 2—Basinwide environmental watering strategy

8.13 Obligation to prepare Basinwide environmental watering strategy

(1) The Authority must prepare a Basinwide environmental watering strategy for the MurrayDarling Basin (Basinwide environmental watering strategy).

(2) The purpose of the Basinwide environmental watering strategy is to:

(a) explain the context within which the Basin annual environmental watering priorities will be set; and

(b) identify particular Basinwide environmental watering priorities over the long term; and

(c) help coordinate the management of environmental water, including guiding the development of consistent longterm watering plans.

8.14 Content of the Basinwide environmental watering strategy

(1) The Basinwide environmental watering strategy must include an explanation as to how the Authority will identify the Basin annual environmental watering priorities (Division 5).

(2) The Basinwide environmental watering strategy may also do any or all of the following:

(a) identify:

(i) particular priority environmental assets or priority ecosystem functions, and their environmental watering requirements, using the methods in Part 5; or

Note: See also subsection 8.15(2).

(ii) multisite watering objectives and associated flow regimes, including for the northern connected system and the southern connected system; or

(iii) endofsystem targets for environmental outcomes;

(b) provide guidance about:

(i) how Basin annual environmental watering priorities should be integrated with broader natural resource management strategies; or

(ii) how the Authority will identify synergies in environmental watering activities or resolve conflicting demands for available environmental water in the course of preparing the Basin annual environmental watering priorities;

(c) make recommendations:

(i) relating to what constitutes best practice in planning, prioritisation and use of environmental water, including decisionmaking and prioritysetting; or

(ii) about periodic environmental watering schedules;

Note: See also sections 29 to 31 of the Act.

(d) include any other matter the Authority considers appropriate.

8.15 Preparation of Basinwide environmental watering strategy

Consultation requirements

(1) The Authority must prepare the Basinwide environmental watering strategy in consultation with:

(a) Basin States; and

(b) the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

(2) The identification of particular assets or functions, and their requirements, under subparagraph 8.14(2)(a)(i) must be done in collaboration with:

(a) relevant land owners or managers and relevant river operators; and

(b) any holders of held environmental water or managers of planned environmental water that may be called upon to provide water to meet those environmental watering requirements.

(3) If any disagreement arises during the consultation or collaboration referred to in subsection (1) or (2), the view of the Authority prevails.

Matters to which Authority must have regard

(4) When preparing the Basinwide environmental watering strategy, the Authority must have regard to each of the following, where these relate to achieving objectives in Part 2:

(a) any advice prepared by a committee established under section 203 of the Act for the purpose of advising the Authority on issues relating to environmental watering;

(b) the advice of river operators;

(c) the water quality and salinity objectives and targets specified in the water quality and salinity management plan in Chapter 9;

(d) the views of:

(i) local communities, including bodies established by a Basin State that express community views in relation to environmental watering; and

(ii) persons materially affected by the management of environmental water;

(e) Indigenous values and Indigenous uses;

(f) optimising social, economic and environmental outcomes;

(g) any other consultation or information the Authority considers relevant.

(5) The Basinwide environmental watering strategy must be developed consistently with the principles to be applied in environmental watering (Division 6).

8.16 Publication of Basinwide environmental watering strategy

(1) The Authority must publish the Basinwide environmental watering strategy within 24 months after the commencement of the Basin Plan.

(2) The Authority must publish the Basinwide environmental watering strategy as soon as practicable after it is updated.

8.17 Review and update of Basinwide environmental watering strategy

(1) The Authority must review and update the Basinwide environmental watering strategy no later than 5 years after:

(a) the strategy is first made; or

(b) the strategy was last reviewed and updated.

(2) The Authority may review and update the Basinwide environmental watering strategy at any time.

Note: The Authority may review and update the Basinwide environmental watering strategy in response to various triggers, including any adjustment that might be made to the SDL.

Division 3—Longterm watering plans

8.18 Obligation to prepare longterm watering plans

A Basin State must prepare a longterm environmental watering plan for each water resource plan area that contains surface water (longterm watering plan).

8.19 Content of longterm watering plans

Note: The level of detail in a longterm watering plan may vary according to local conditions, and statutory and other arrangements prevailing in the water resource plan area.

Identification of environmental watering requirements

(1) A longterm watering plan must identify:

(a) priority environmental assets in the water resource plan area; and

(b) ecological objectives and ecological targets for those assets; and

(c) environmental watering requirements needed to meet those targets in order to achieve those objectives;

using the method in section 8.49.

Note: See section 8.49 for the meaning of the term priority environmental assets.

(2) A longterm watering plan must identify:

(a) priority ecosystem functions in the water resource plan area; and

(b) ecological objectives and ecological targets for those functions; and

(c) environmental watering requirements needed to meet those targets in order to achieve those objectives;

using the method in section 8.50.

Note: See section 8.50 for the meaning of the term priority ecosystem functions.

(3) If the Basinwide environmental watering strategy has identified particular assets or functions, and their requirements, under subparagraph 8.14(2)(a)(i), a longterm watering plan must be consistent with that part of the Basinwide environmental watering strategy.

Identification of possible cooperative arrangements

(4) A longterm watering plan must identify possible cooperative arrangements (for example, possible cooperative watering regimes) between holders of held environmental water, managers of planned environmental water, and owners or managers of environmental assets for the delivery of environmental water:

(a) within the water resource plan area; and

(b) between that area and upstream and downstream water resource plan areas;

that will ensure that environmental water meets the environmental watering requirements identified in accordance with subsections (1), (2) and (3).

Identification of longterm risks

(5) A longterm watering plan must identify:

(a) longterm risks to providing for the environmental watering requirements of priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions; and

(b) the strategies to manage those risks having regard to the strategies in Chapter 4.

Operational constraints

(6) A longterm watering plan must:

(a) identify any operational constraints in relation to environmental watering in the water resource plan area; and

(b) include strategies to manage or overcome those constraints.

Supporting information

(7) A longterm watering plan must include references to the information that informed its preparation.

Incorporation of other material

(8) A longterm watering plan may provide that a specified instrument or text, or specified part of an instrument or text, is part of the plan.

8.20 Preparation of longterm watering plans

Consultation requirements

(1) A Basin State must prepare a longterm watering plan in consultation with:

(a) holders of held environmental water; and

(b) managers of planned environmental water; and

(c) river operators; and

(d) local communities, including bodies established by a Basin State that express community views in relation to environmental watering; and

(e) persons materially affected by the management of environmental water.

Note:  Under paragraphs (a) and (b), a Basin State may consult with any holder or manager whose environmental water could contribute to environmental watering in the water resource plan area, regardless of the location of the holder or manager, or of the location of the water.

Matters to which Basin State is to have regard

(2) When preparing a longterm watering plan, a Basin State must have regard to the Basinwide environmental watering strategy (Division 2).

Note: Paragraph 8.13(2)(c) provides that one of the purposes of the Basinwide environmental watering strategy is to help coordinate the management of environmental water, including guiding the development of consistent longterm watering plans.

(3) A longterm watering plan must be developed consistently with the principles to be applied in environmental watering (Division 6).

Advice from the Authority

(4) The Authority may advise, or assist, a Basin State in preparing a longterm watering plan, or an updated longterm watering plan.

Consistency with international agreements

(5) A longterm watering plan must not be inconsistent with relevant international agreements.

Note: A purpose of the Basin Plan, including Chapter 8, is to give effect to relevant international agreements (see paragraph 20(a) and subsections 21(1), (2) and (3) of the Act). This provision is a further check to ensure that this purpose is achieved.

8.21 Provision and publication of longterm watering plans

(1) A Basin State must give a longterm watering plan for a water resource plan area to the Authority:

(a) no later than 12 months after the Basinwide environmental watering strategy is first published; or

(b) if the longterm watering plan is reviewed and updated in accordance with subsection 8.22(1)—no later than 3 months after the relevant event mentioned in that subsection; or

(c) if the longterm watering plan is reviewed and updated other than in accordance with subsection 8.22(1)—as soon as practicable after it is updated; or

(d) within another timeframe agreed to by the Authority and the Basin State.

Note: Subsection 8.16(1) provides that the Authority has 24 months from commencement of the Basin Plan to publish the Basinwide environmental watering strategy. The 12month timeframe referred to in paragraph (a) commences when the Authority actually publishes the strategy, and not 24 months after commencement of the Basin Plan.

(2) The Authority or Basin State may publish a longterm watering plan or part of that plan.

Note: To ensure transparency, it is expected that Basin States will publish longterm watering plans as soon as is practicable.
 

8.22 Review and update of longterm watering plans

(1) A Basin State must review and update a longterm watering plan if:

(a) the water resource plan for the water resource plan area is accredited by the Minister under section 63 of the Act; or

(b) an amendment of the water resource plan for the water resource plan area is accredited by the Minister under section 65 of the Act; or

(c) the water resource plan for the water resource plan area is adopted by the Minister under section 69 of the Act; or

(d) the Authority publishes an updated Basinwide environmental watering strategy, the updates of which materially affect the longterm watering plan; or

(e) it is 5 years after the last time the plan was reviewed under this section.

(2) A Basin State may review and update a longterm watering plan at any time.

Division 4—Annual environmental watering priorities

8.23 Obligation to identify annual environmental watering priorities

(1) A Basin State must, in relation to each water accounting period, identify annual environmental watering priorities for surface water in each water resource plan area (annual environmental watering priorities).

(2) A single instrument may identify:

(a) the annual priorities for one year; or

(b) the annual priorities for 2 or more years.

8.24 Content of annual environmental watering priorities

Identification of priorities

(1) Annual environmental watering priorities must identify priorities for the watering of priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions in the water resource plan area.

(2) Annual environmental watering priorities must identify, to the extent possible, the assumptions upon which the priorities were based, including:

(a) expected holdings of held environmental water, including quantities, reliability, security class, licence type, limitations, and other characteristics of that water (including who holds that water); and

(b) expected quantities of planned environmental water and the associated rules and arrangements relating to that water (including who manages that water).

Identification of possible cooperative arrangements

(3) Annual environmental watering priorities must identify possible cooperative arrangements (including possible cooperative watering regimes) that:

(a) may be made among any of the following:

(i) holders of held environmental water;

(ii) managers of planned environmental water;

(iii) owners or managers of environmental assets; and

(b) may deal with either or both of:

(i) the delivery of environmental water within the water resource plan area;

(ii) the delivery of environmental water between that area and upstream and downstream water resource plan areas; and

(c) support the delivery of environmental water in accordance with the priorities identified in the Basin State’s annual environmental watering priorities.

Incorporation of other material

(4) The annual environmental watering priorities may provide that a specified instrument or text, or specified part of an instrument or text, is part of the priorities.

Note: The level of detail in annual watering priorities may vary according to local conditions, and statutory and other arrangements prevailing in the water resource plan area.

8.25 Preparation of annual environmental watering priorities

Basin State must apply principles and use method in Part 6

(1) When identifying annual environmental watering priorities, a Basin State must apply the principles and use the method in Part 6.

Matters to which Basin State must have regard

(2) When identifying annual environmental watering priorities, a Basin State must have regard to:

(a) the Basinwide environmental watering strategy (Division 2); and

(b) any register of held environmental water maintained under the rules of the water resource plan for the water resource plan area; and

(c) any register of held environmental water maintained by the Director of Meteorology; and

(d) any environmental watering schedules to which the Authority is a party; and

(e) any rules relating to planned environmental water in the transitional water resource plan, interim water resource plan or water resource plan for the water resource plan area, as applicable.

Note: See section 10.09, which requires water resource plans to identify planned environmental water and to maintain a register of held environmental water in certain circumstances.

(3) To avoid doubt, the requirements in paragraphs (2)(b) and (2)(e) apply only if a water resource plan has been accredited or adopted for the water resource plan area.

Information to be provided to Basin States to prepare annual environmental watering priorities

(4) To enable a Basin State to identify annual environmental watering priorities, a holder of held environmental water in the water resource plan area:

(a) must give a Basin State information relating to the matters referred to in paragraph 8.24(2)(a); and

(b) may give a Basin State views on environmental watering priorities for priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions for the water accounting period.

(5) To enable a Basin State to identify annual environmental watering priorities, a manager of planned environmental water in the water resource plan area:

(a) must give the Basin State information relating to the matters referred to in paragraph 8.24(2)(b); and

(b) if planned environmental water may be used in another water resource plan area—must give the Basin State:

(i) details of the water that will be made available; and

(ii) the manager’s preferred priorities for that water, both inside and outside of the water resource plan area.

Consistency with longterm watering plans

(6) Annual environmental watering priorities for the water resource plan area must be consistent with the longterm watering plan for that water resource plan area.

8.26 Provision of annual environmental watering priorities

A Basin State must give its annual environmental watering priorities for a water accounting period to the Authority:

(a) by the 31 May before the commencement of that water accounting period; or

(b) within a different timeframe agreed to by the Authority and the Basin State.

Division 5—Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.27 Obligation to prepare Basin annual environmental watering priorities

(1) The Authority must, for each water accounting period, prepare annual environmental watering priorities for the MurrayDarling Basin (Basin annual environmental watering priorities).

(2) The purpose of the Basin annual environmental watering priorities is to identify watering priorities that give effect to the Basinwide environmental watering strategy.

Note: For the application of Basin annual environmental watering priorities, see Division 6.

8.28 Content of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

The Basin annual environmental watering priorities may identify any of the following:

(a) priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions that have Basinscale significance for environmental watering during that water accounting period;

(b) priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions whose environmental watering during the period will require complex arrangements;

Example: Complex arrangements could include multiple water sources, multiple sites, the involvement of multiple parties, the achievement of multiple benefits, or tradeoffs.

(c) any potential for synergies in environmental watering activities (including at a scale that involves multiple water resource plan areas).

Note: Synergies could be identified in order to maximise environmental benefits in the way described in section 8.35.

8.29 Preparation of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Consultation requirements

(1) The Authority must prepare the Basin annual environmental watering priorities in consultation with:

(a) Basin States; and

(b) the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

(2) If any disagreement arises during the consultation referred to in subsection (1), the view of the Authority prevails.

Matters to which Authority must have regard

(3) When preparing the Basin annual environmental watering priorities, the Authority must have regard to the following, where these relate to achieving objectives in Part 2:

(a) any advice prepared by a committee established under section 203 of the Act for the purpose of advising the Authority on issues relating to environmental watering;

(b) any advice provided by river operators;

(c) the longterm watering plans for all water resource plan areas;

(d) annual environmental watering priorities for all water resource plan areas;

(e) the water quality and salinity objectives and targets specified in the water quality and salinity management plan in Chapter 9;

(f) the views of:

(i) local communities, including bodies established by a Basin State that express community views in relation to environmental watering; and

(ii) persons materially affected by the management of environmental water;

(g) Indigenous values and Indigenous uses;

(h) optimising social, economic and environmental outcomes;

(i) any consultation or other information the Authority considers relevant to the coordination of environmental watering.

Example: The Authority may engage an individual scientist or scientific advisory committee to provide advice on aspects of Basin annual environmental watering priorities.

How Authority identifies Basin annual environmental watering priorities

(4) The Authority may identify priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions, and their environmental watering requirements, from:

(a) any that are identified in the Basinwide environmental watering strategy in accordance with subparagraph 8.14(2)(a)(i); or

(b) any that:

(i) are identified in a longterm watering plan; and

(ii) were identified using the methods in Part 5.

(5) The Authority may determine Basin annual environmental watering priorities by:

(a) adopting priorities that:

(i) are identified by Basin States in their annual environmental watering priorities; and

(ii) were identified by applying the principles and using the method in Part 6; or

(b) determining priorities for applying environmental water by applying the principles and using the method in Part 6; or

(c) if there is likely to be insufficient water to provide for all priorities determined in accordance with paragraph (a) or paragraph (b)—determining what should be considered a priority for watering by applying the principles and using the method in Part 6.

Consistency requirements

(6) The Basin annual environmental watering priorities must be consistent with:

(a) the objectives in Part 2 of this Chapter; and

(b) the Basinwide environmental watering strategy; and

(c) any environmental watering schedule to which the Authority is a party.

8.30 Publication of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

The Authority must publish on its website the Basin annual environmental watering priorities:

(a) before the commencement of the water accounting period to which they relate; and

(b) if the priorities are reviewed and updated in accordance with section 8.31—as soon as practicable after they are updated.

8.31 Review and update of Basin annual environmental watering priorities

The Authority may review and update the Basin annual environmental watering priorities at any time, including during the water accounting period.

Division 6—Principles to be applied in environmental watering

Subdivision A—Principles to be applied in environmental watering

8.32 Outline of Subdivision

This Subdivision sets out the principles to be applied in environmental watering.

Note: See the definition of environmental watering in section 4 of the Act.

8.33 Principle 1—Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Environmental watering is to be undertaken having regard to the Basin annual environmental watering priorities.

Note: There may be reasons why it is not possible in particular circumstances to undertake watering in accordance with these priorities. Section 8.44 then applies.

8.34 Principle 2—Consistency with the objectives in Part 2

Environmental watering is to be undertaken consistently with the objectives in Part 2.

8.35 Principle 3—Maximising environmental benefits

Subject to the principles in sections 8.33 and 8.34, environmental watering is to be undertaken in a way that:

(a) maximises multiple environmental benefits of environmental watering; and

Example: Ensuring that the water achieves the best environmental outcomes including through multisite watering en route to an intended priority environmental asset.

(b) maximises its benefits and effectiveness by:

(i) coordinating environmental watering between all holders of held environmental water and managers of planned environmental water; and

(ii) coordinating environmental watering with flows regulated for consumptive use; and

(iii) utilising local knowledge and experience; and

(iv) having regard to Indigenous values; and

(v) having regard to social and economic outcomes; and

(c) enhances existing flow events, where possible, so as to ensure improvement in the delivery of a full range of flow conditions, including high flow events; and

(d) takes into consideration the relative ecological benefits of applying environmental water to achieve one environmental outcome over another environmental outcome; and

(e) takes into consideration the variability of the natural flow regime, for example, by mitigating or avoiding seasonal inversion of flows; and

(f) incorporates strategies to deal with a variable and changing climate; and

(g) enables information to be shared between the Authority, the Commonwealth, Basin States, holders of held environmental water and managers of planned environmental water to ensure efficient and effective use of environmental water.

8.36 Principle 4—Risks

Environmental watering is to be undertaken having regard to:

(a) potential risks, including downstream risks, that may result from applying environmental water and measures that may be taken to minimise the risks; and

(b) risks arising from impediments to the delivery of water to waterdependent ecosystems, including risks of extraction of that water for other uses, and inadequate accounting of water flows.

8.37 Principle 5—Cost of environmental watering

Environmental watering is to be undertaken having regard to the quantity of water and other resources required relative to the expected environmental benefits.

8.38 Principle 6—Apply the precautionary principle

A lack of full scientific certainty as to whether there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

8.39 Principle 7—Working effectively with local communities

Environmental watering should be undertaken having regard to the views of:

(a) local communities, including bodies established by a Basin State that express community views in relation to environmental watering; and

(b) persons materially affected by the management of environmental water.

8.40 Principle 8—Adaptive management

Adaptive management should be applied in the planning, prioritisation and use of environmental water.

Note:  See section 1.07 for the meaning of adaptive management.

8.41 Principle 9—Relevant international agreements

Environmental watering should be undertaken in a way that is not inconsistent with relevant international agreements.

Note: A purpose of the Basin Plan, including Chapter 8, is to give effect to relevant international agreements (see paragraph 20(a) and subsections 21(1), (2) and (3) of the Act). This provision is a further check to ensure that this purpose is achieved.

8.42 Principle 10—Other management and operational practices

River management and operational practices should be reviewed, and if necessary altered, to ensure that rivers can be managed to achieve multiple objectives, including the objectives in Part 2.

8.43 Principle 11—Management of water for consumptive use

Management of water for consumptive use should, where possible, be undertaken in a way that is consistent with achieving the objectives in Part 2.

Subdivision B—Reporting in relation to Basin annual environmental watering priorities

8.44 Reporting required where Basin annual environmental watering priorities not followed

(1) If a person undertakes environmental watering other than in accordance with the Basin annual environmental watering priorities, that person must give to the Authority a statement of reasons why environmental watering has not been undertaken in accordance with the Basin annual environmental watering priorities.

Note: See section 25D of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 for content required in a statement of reasons.

(2) The person must give the statement to the Authority as soon as practicable, but in any event within 4 months after the end of the water accounting period in which the environmental watering was undertaken.

Note: This aligns with the period by which an annual report must be produced on the implementation of the environmental management framework. See section 13.14 and item 10 of the table in Schedule 12.

(3) The Authority may publish on its website a statement of reasons given under subsection (1).

Division 7—Planning for recovery of additional environmental water

8.45 Outline of Division

This section sets out the Authority’s role in planning for the recovery of additional environmental water.

8.46 Planning for the recovery of additional environmental water

(1) The Authority may prepare, and publish on its website, recommendations about where in the MurrayDarling Basin additional environmental water should be recovered (environmental water recovery recommendations).

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), environmental water recovery recommendations may include the following:

(a) priority areas for the recovery of environmental water;

Note: See section 1.07 for the meaning of recovery of environmental water.

(b) priorities for the recovery of certain types of water access rights;

(c) the reasoning on which those priorities are based.

Note: The reasoning may include models used by the Authority to identify priorities for the recovery of environmental water.

8.47 Reporting required where Authority’s recommendations not followed

(1) If a person:

(a) acquires a water access right for the purpose of undertaking environmental watering; and

(b) does not acquire that right consistently with the environmental water recovery recommendations;

then that person must, within 8 weeks of the acquisition, give to the Authority a statement of reasons for not doing so.

Note: See section 25D of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 for content required in a statement of reasons.

(2) The Authority may publish on its website a statement of reasons given to it under subsection (1).

Part 5—Methods for identifying environmental assets and ecosystem functions and their environmental watering requirements

8.48 Environmental assets and ecosystem functions database

(1) The Authority must establish and maintain a database identifying information about environmental assets and ecosystem functions that require environmental watering (environmental assets and ecosystem functions database).

Note: This database is expected to include information used in the development of the Basin Plan which will be added to on an ongoing basis.

(2) The Authority may publish the database on its website.

8.49 Method for identifying environmental assets and their environmental watering requirements

(1) An environmental asset that requires environmental watering, and its environmental watering requirements, must be identified having regard to the information on the environmental assets and ecosystem functions database, using the following method:

(a) identify any environmental asset that meets one or more of the assessment indicators for any of the 5 criteria specified in the table in Schedule 8; and

(b) identify the environmental assets that can be managed with environmental water (priority environmental assets); and

(c) for priority environmental assets, identify ecological objectives that are consistent with the criteria used to identify those assets; and

Example: If the environmental asset falls within the assessment indicator for Criterion 1 because it is a declared Ramsar wetland, the objectives must be directed towards maintaining the ecological character of the wetland.

(d) identify ecological targets to achieve those objectives; and

(e) in accordance with section 8.51 determine the environmental watering requirements needed to meet the targets in order to achieve the objectives.

(2) This method may be applied in a flexible manner, having regard to the particular circumstances.

Example: If new information came to light, the step in paragraph (1)(e) could be reapplied without needing to reapply the entire method.

8.50 Method for identifying ecosystem functions that require environmental watering and their environmental watering requirements

(1) An ecosystem function that requires environmental watering to sustain it, and its environmental watering requirements, must be identified having regard to the information on the environmental assets and ecosystem functions database, using the following method:

(a) identify any ecosystem function that meets one or more of the assessment indicators for any of the 4 criteria specified in the table in Schedule 9; and

(b) identify the ecosystem functions that can be managed with environmental water (priority ecosystem functions); and

(c) for priority ecosystem functions, identify ecological objectives that are consistent with the criteria used to identify those ecosystem functions; and

(d) identify ecological targets to achieve those objectives; and

(e) in accordance with section 8.51, determine the environmental watering requirements needed to meet the targets in order to achieve the objectives.

(2) This method may be applied in a flexible manner, having regard to the particular circumstances.

Example: If new information came to light, the step in paragraph (1)(e) could be reapplied without needing to reapply the entire method.

8.51 Determination of the environmental watering requirements of environmental assets and ecosystem functions

(1) The environmental watering requirements referred to in paragraphs 8.49(1)(e) and 8.50(1)(e) must:

(a) be supported by relevant information relating to the underlying physical geomorphic processes driving the flowecological relationship; and

Example: This may include a conceptual model.

(b) include the following flow components that are relevant to the watering requirements:

(i) ceasetoflow events;

(ii) lowflowseason base flows;

(iii) highflowseason base flows;

(iv) lowflowseason freshes;

(v) highflowseason freshes;

(vi) bankfull flows;

(vii) overbank flows; and

(c) be determined having regard to:

(i) groundwaterderived base flows; and

(ii) groundwater recharge associated with groundwater resources that are highly connected to surface water resources; and

(d) be within the range of natural flow variability and seasonality.

(2) The environmental watering requirements must be expressed, where relevant, in the following terms:

(a) a flow threshold or total flow volume;

(b) the required duration for that flow threshold, or the duration over which the volume should be delivered (as the case requires);

(c) the required timing of the flow event;

(d) the required frequency of the flow event;

(e) the maximum period between flow events;

(f) the extent and thresholds for any groundwater dependency;

(g) the required inundation depth at the site.

Part 6—Principles and method to determine priorities for applying environmental water

Division 1—Principles to be applied to determine priorities

8.52 Outline of Division

This Division sets out the principles to be applied to determine the priorities for applying environmental water.

8.53 Principle 1—Consistency with principles of ecologically sustainable development and international agreements

Priorities for applying environmental water are:

(a) to reflect the principles of ecologically sustainable development; and

(b) not to be inconsistent with relevant international agreements; and

Note: A purpose of the Basin Plan, including Chapter 8, is to give effect to relevant international agreements (see paragraph 20(a) and subsections 21(1), (2) and (3) of the Act). This provision is a further check to ensure that this purpose is achieved.

(c) to be based on the best available knowledge of what is necessary to maintain the longterm resilience of the waterdependent ecosystem to risks and threats.

Note: Best available knowledge may change over time, especially as a result of monitoring undertaken pursuant to Chapter 13 of the Basin Plan.

8.54 Principle 2—Consistency with objectives

Priorities for applying environmental water are to be consistent with the objectives in Part 2.

8.55 Principle 3—Flexibility and responsiveness

Priorities for applying environmental water are to be flexible and responsive so as to:

(a) ensure that regard is had to the views of:

(i) local communities, including bodies established by a Basin State that express community views in relation to environmental watering; and

(ii) persons materially affected by the management of environmental water; and

(b) ensure that wherever possible water meets multiple objectives in order to maximise systemwide benefits; and

(c) encourage innovative approaches to water management.

8.56 Principle 4—Condition of environmental assets and ecosystem functions

Priorities for applying environmental water are to be determined having regard to matters relating to the condition of priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions, including:

(a) the condition of the asset or function to be watered; and

(b) relevant past conditions (for example, climate, drought, rainfall, flow history and fire); and

(c) the urgency of the need to provide water to the asset or to sustain the function; and

(d) the likely response of an asset or function to environmental watering, and the certainty of the change in condition based on previous experience or best available knowledge; and

(e) the longterm sustainability of an asset or waterdependent ecosystem that supports a function; and

(f) the existence of management plans relating to broader natural resource management matters; and

(g) the effect on an asset or waterdependent ecosystem that supports a function if environmental water is not applied.

8.57 Principle 5—Likely effectiveness and related matters

Priorities for applying environmental water are to be determined having regard to matters relating to the likely effectiveness of applying environmental water, including:

(a) limitations on the effectiveness of environmental water; and

(b) cost effectiveness; and

(c) the opportunity to take advantage of consumptive water flows (including flows in unregulated systems and releases of water from storage) to realise multiple benefits; and

Example: The ability to use environmental water in concert with stock and domestic releases, or other releases for consumptive use.

(d) the quantity of water and other resources needed to achieve the objectives in Part 2 relative to other options for applying that environmental water in order to meet those objectives; and

(e) the extent and effectiveness of integration with other related natural resource management plans; and

(f) optimising economic, social and environmental outcomes.

8.58 Principle 6—Risks and related matters

Priorities for applying environmental water are to be determined having regard to matters relating to risk including:

(a) potential risks, including downstream risks, that may result from the application of environmental water (for example, flooding private land with water released from a storage without prior agreement, fish kills or salinity impacts) and measures that may be taken to minimise the risks; and

(b) ecological opportunity costs of using water for a particular environmental outcome instead of another environmental outcome; and

Example: This involves the identification of waterdependent ecosystems that will not receive water as a result of a particular watering decision.

(c) impediments to the delivery of water to priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions, including risks of extraction of that water for other uses.

8.59 Principle 7—Robust and transparent decisions

Priorities for applying environmental water are to be determined using robust, transparent and documented decisionmaking processes.

Division 2—Method to be used to determine priorities

8.60 How to determine priorities for applying environmental water

(1) This section sets out the method to be used to determine priorities for applying environmental water.

(2) The method to determine priorities for applying environmental water is to:

(a) determine the resource availability scenario; and

(b) determine the management outcomes that apply to the resource availability scenario; and

(c) consistent with the management outcomes that apply to the resource availability scenario, determine the provisional priorities for applying environmental water by applying the principles set out in Division 1 to priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions; and

(d) refine those priorities based on seasonal, operational and management considerations in accordance with section 8.62.

(3) When using the method, a person must have regard to any guidelines published by the Authority.

8.61 Determining the resource availability scenario

A resource availability scenario is one of the following:

(a) very dry;

(b) dry;

(c) moderate;

(d) wet;

(e) very wet.

8.62 Seasonal, operational and management considerations

The seasonal, operational and management considerations upon which priorities for applying environmental water are to be refined must be based on the following:

(a) the best available knowledge of the environmental watering requirements of each priority environmental asset and priority ecosystem function, and of the system as a whole; and

(b) the ecological objectives and ecological targets for each priority environmental asset and priority ecosystem function; and

(c) information which identifies ecological responses to hydrology; and

Note: See also paragraph 8.51(1)(a).

(d) recent flow history at each priority environmental asset and for each priority ecosystem function to assess antecedent conditions; and

(e) forecasts of likely water availability; and

(f) operational feasibility; and

(g) evaluation and review of the results and effectiveness of previous environmental watering.

Chapter 9—Water quality and salinity management plan

Part 1—Preliminary

9.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter sets out the water quality and salinity management plan (item 10 of the table in subsection 22(1) and section 25 of the Act).

(3) The water quality and salinity management plan sets out:

(a) the key causes of water quality degradation in the MurrayDarling Basin (Part 2); and

(b) water quality objectives for Basin water resources (Part 3); and

(c) water quality targets (Part 4).

Note 1: The water quality and salinity management plan has been prepared having regard to the National Water Quality Management Strategy endorsed by the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (see subsection 25(3) of the Act).

Note 2: Water quality includes salinity: see the definition of water quality in section 1.07.

Part 2—Key causes of water quality degradation in MurrayDarling Basin

9.02 Types of water quality degradation and their key causes

(1) The types of water quality degradation in the MurrayDarling Basin are the following:

(a) elevated levels of salinity;

(b) elevated levels of suspended matter;

(c) elevated levels of nutrients, including phosphorous and nitrogen;

(d) elevated cyanobacteria cell counts or biovolume, toxins and odour compounds;

(e) water temperature outside natural ranges;

(f) dissolved oxygen outside natural ranges;

(g) elevated levels of pesticides, heavy metals and other toxic contaminants;

(h) pH outside natural ranges;

(i) elevated pathogen counts.

(2) The key causes of water quality degradation for each type of degradation are set out in Schedule 10.

Part 3—Water quality objectives for Basin water resources

9.03 Outline of this Part

This Part sets out the following water quality objectives for Basin water resources:

(a) objectives for:

(i) declared Ramsar wetlands; and

(ii) other waterdependent ecosystems;

(b) objectives for raw water for treatment for human consumption;

(c) the objective for irrigation water;

(d) the objective for recreational water quality;

(e) the objective of maintaining good levels of water quality;

(f) the salt export objective.

9.04 Objectives for waterdependent ecosystems

(1) The water quality objective for declared Ramsar wetlands is that the quality of water is sufficient to maintain the ecological character of those wetlands.

Note: See paragraph 21(3)(c) of the Act.

(2) The water quality objective for waterdependent ecosystems other than declared Ramsar wetlands is that the quality of water is sufficient:

(a) to protect and restore the ecosystems; and

(b) to protect and restore the ecosystem functions of the ecosystems; and

(c) to ensure that the ecosystems are resilient to climate change and other risks and threats.

Note: See the overall environmental objectives of the environmental watering plan in section 8.04.

9.05 Objectives for raw water for treatment for human consumption

The water quality objectives for raw water for treatment for human consumption are:

(a) to minimise the risk that the quality of raw water taken for treatment for human consumption results in adverse human health effects; and

(b) to maintain the palatability rating of water taken for treatment for human consumption at the level of good as set out in the ADWG; and

Note:  See section 1.07 for the meaning of ADWG.

(c) to minimise the risk that the quality of raw water taken for treatment for human consumption results in the odour of drinking water being offensive to consumers.

9.06 Objective for irrigation water

The water quality objective for irrigation water is that the quality of surface water or groundwater, when used in accordance with the best irrigation and crop management practices and principles of ecologically sustainable development, does not result in crop yield loss or soil degradation.

Note: See section 1.07 for the meaning of soil degradation.

9.07 Objective for recreational water quality

The water quality objective for recreational water quality is to achieve a low risk to human health from water quality threats posed by exposure through ingestion, inhalation or contact during recreational use of Basin water resources.

9.08 Objective to maintain good levels of water quality

If the value of a water quality characteristic (for example, salinity, nutrients, pesticides, pH, turbidity) is at a level that is better than the target value for water quality set out in Part 4, an objective is to maintain that level.

9.09 Salt export objective

(1) This section sets out a further water quality objective (the salt export objective) for the River Murray System.

(2) The salt export objective is to ensure adequate flushing of salt from the River Murray System into the Southern Ocean.

(3) The salt export objective is expected to be achieved by the discharge of an average of 2 million tonnes of salt from the River Murray System into the Southern Ocean each water accounting period.

Note: A discharge of an average of 2 million tonnes of salt each water accounting period has been assessed as being adequate for the purposes of subsection (2). This figure has been calculated on the basis of a longterm modelled estimate approach that takes into account cyclical climate influences on flows, as well as existing works and measures such as salt interception schemes that avoid substantial quantities of salt entering the River Murray System, and which are complementary to flushing salt from the River Murray System.

(4) The Authority must estimate the discharge of salt from the River Murray System into the Southern Ocean every water accounting period.

(5) The Authority must assess, on an annual basis, achievement of the salt export objective by comparing the estimated number of tonnes of salt exported per year averaged over the preceding 3 years against the indicative figure of 2 million tonnes of salt per year.

(6) The Authority must publish each assessment on its website.

Part 4—Water quality targets

Division 1—Preliminary

9.10 Outline of this Part and purpose of targets

This Part sets out the following:

(a) water quality targets to which particular entities must have regard when performing functions, including in relation to the management of water flows (Division 2);

(b) water quality targets that inform the development of certain measures required to be included in water resource plans (Division 3);

(c) salinity targets for the purposes of longterm salinity planning and management for the MurrayDarling Basin (Division 4).

Note 1: Schedule B to the Agreement also sets out targets for salinity management in the MurrayDarling Basin. The provisions of that Schedule operate independently of, and are unaffected by, the targets in this Part.

Note 2: The targets in this Part also inform the matters listed in Schedule 12, by reference to which the effectiveness of the Basin Plan is to be evaluated. Basin States and Commonwealth agencies are required to produce reports on those matters: see section 13.14.

Note 3: See also section 13.08 which requires the Authority to review the targets in this Part.

9.11 Failing to achieve a target

The failure to achieve a target does not in itself mean that:

(a) a person has acted inconsistently with the water quality and salinity management plan; or

(b) a person is required to take particular action or refrain from taking particular action in response to the failure.

9.12 Most stringent target applies

If, for a Basin water resource, more than one target value set out in this Part applies for the same water quality characteristic (for example, salinity, nutrients, pesticides, pH, turbidity), the most stringent target value applies.

9.13 Guidelines

(1) The Authority may publish guidelines relating to the application of the targets set out in this Part, for example, recommending actions to be taken by relevant persons and bodies in order to achieve the targets or in the event that a target is not met.

(2) To avoid doubt, nothing in the Basin Plan binds any person or body to comply with the guidelines.

Division 2—Targets for managing water flows

9.14 Targets for managing water flows

(1) The Authority must have regard to the targets in subsection (5) when performing its functions under the Agreement relating to the management of water flows.

(2) The Basin Officials Committee must have regard to the targets in subsection (5) when performing its functions under the Agreement relating to the management of water flows.

(3) An agency of a Basin State must have regard to the targets in subsection (5) when performing functions relating to the management of water flows.

(4) The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, holders of held environmental water and managers of planned environmental water must have regard to the targets in subsection (5) when making decisions about the use of environmental water.

(5) For the purposes of subsections (1) to (4), the following targets apply:

(a) to maintain dissolved oxygen at a target value of at least 50% saturation;

Note: This equates to approximately 50% oxygen saturation at 25°C and 1 atmosphere of pressure.

(b) the targets for recreational water quality in section 9.18;

(c) the levels of salinity at the reporting sites set out in the following table should not exceed the values set out in the table, 95% of the time:

Item

Reporting site

Target value (EC) (µS/cm)

1

River Murray at Murray Bridge

830

2

River Murray at Morgan

800

3

River Murray at Lock 6

580

4

Darling River downstream of Menindee Lakes at Burtundy

830

5

Lower Lakes at Milang

1000

 

Note 1: Schedule B to the Agreement imposes obligations on the Commonwealth and Basin States in relation to decisions that may have a ‘Significant Effect’ on salinity, and how to account for these effects.

Note 2: The target values can be expressed in milligrams per litre (mg/L) by multiplying the EC values by 0.6.

(6) The Authority must:

(a) monitor salinity levels at each reporting site in paragraph (5)(c) on a daily basis; and

(b) conduct, at the end of each water accounting period, an assessment of whether the target values in paragraph (5)(c) have been met over the period that consists of that water accounting period and the previous 4 water accounting periods; and

(c) publish the findings of each assessment on its website.

Division 3—Water quality targets for water resource plans

9.15 Purpose of Division

The targets set out in this Division are to inform the development of certain measures which are required to be included in water resource plans.

Note 1: See Part 7 of Chapter 10. In some circumstances, a WQM plan in a water resource plan may specify alternatives to target values set out in this Division: see subsection 10.32(4).

Note 2: The targets in this Division relate to fresh waterdependent ecosystems, irrigation water and recreational water. The ADWG sets out standards for the quality of raw water for treatment for human consumption.

9.16 Water quality targets for fresh waterdependent ecosystems

(1) The water quality targets for fresh waterdependent ecosystems (including fresh waterdependent ecosystems that are declared Ramsar wetlands) are that a water quality characteristic in a target application zone meets the target value for that characteristic and zone set out in Schedule 11.

(2) The target application zone, of a particular name, means the area within the boundary described by the polygon of that name included in the dataset that:

(a) is titled Water Quality Zones; and

(b) has a dataset scale of 1:250,000; and

(c) is held by the Authority at the commencement of the Basin Plan.

(3) The Authority must publish on its website a map that:

(a) identifies each target application zone; and

(b) uses the dataset referred to in subsection (2).

9.17 Water quality targets for irrigation water

(1) The water quality targets for irrigation water are that the values for a water quality characteristic meet the target values set out in this section 95% of the time over each period of 10 years that ends at the end of a water accounting period.

(2) The target values apply at sites in the MurrayDarling Basin where water is extracted by an irrigation infrastructure operator for the purpose of irrigation.

Note:  Water resource plans are required to identify these sites (see section 10.34).

(3) The target values for salinity are set out in the following table:

Item

Basin region

Target value (EC) (µS/cm)

1

Southern Basin (Murray River and tributaries)

833

2

Northern Basin (Barwon River and Darling River and their tributaries)

Paroo and Warrego rivers—838

Generally—957

 

Note: To convert EC to milligrams per litre (mg/L), the following approximate conversion factors can be used: (a) for the Southern Basin (including the Lachlan river), mg/L = EC multiplied by 0.6; (b) for Northern Basin, mg/L = EC multiplied by 0.7; (c) for the Paroo and Warrego rivers, mg/L = EC multiplied by 0.8.

(4) The target value for the sodium adsorption ratio of irrigation water is the value which, if exceeded, would cause soil degradation when that water is applied to land.

Note: See section 1.07 for the meaning of soil degradation.

9.18 Water quality targets for recreational water

The water quality targets for water used for recreational purposes are that the values for cyanobacteria cell counts or biovolume meet the guideline values set out in Chapter 6 of the Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water.

Division 4—Salinity targets for the purposes of longterm salinity planning and management

9.19 Salinity targets

(1) This section sets out surface water salinity targets for the purpose of longterm salinity planning and management for the MurrayDarling Basin.

(2) The MurrayDarling Basin and EndofValley Targets for salinity are set out (as absolute values) in Appendix 1 of Schedule B to the Agreement as amended from time to time.

(3) The following entities are to apply the targets in performing longterm salinity planning and management functions:

(a) the Authority;

(b) the Basin Officials Committee;

(c) agencies of Basin States.

 

 

Chapter 10—Water resource plan requirements

Part 1—Preliminary

10.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter sets out requirements in relation to the following matters that a water resource plan must comply with in order for it to be accredited or adopted under Division 2 of Part 2 of the Act (item 11 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act):

(a) the identification of the water resource plan area and other matters (Part 2);

(b) the incorporation, and application, of the longterm annual diversion limit for each SDL resource unit in the water resource plan area (Part 3);

(c) the sustainable use and management of water resources of the water resource plan area within the longterm annual diversion limits (Part 4);

(d) the regulation, for the purpose of managing Basin water resources, of interception activities with a significant impact (whether on an activitybyactivity basis or cumulatively) on those water resources (Part 5);

(e) planning for environmental watering (Part 6);

(f) water quality objectives for the water resource plan area (Part 7);

(g) the circumstances in which tradeable water rights in relation to the water resource plan area may be traded, and the conditions applicable to such trades (Part 8);

(h) the broad approaches to the way risks to the water resources of the water resource plan area should be addressed (Part 9);

(i) information about measuring the water taken from the water resources of the water resource plan area and monitoring the water resources of the water resource plan area (Part 10);

(j) reviews of the water resource plan and amendments of the plan arising from those reviews (Part 11);

(k) the scientific information or models on which the water resource plan is to be based (Part 12);

(l) planning for extreme events (Part 13);

(m) Indigenous values and uses (Part 14)

.

Part 2—Identification of water resource plan area and other matters

10.02 Identification of water resource plan area and water resources

(1) A water resource plan must identify:

(a) the water resource plan area; and

(b) the water resources;

to which it applies.

(2) The water resource plan area must be one of the water resource plan areas described in Part 2 of Chapter 3 and must be identified using the same description of that area as is set out in that Part, with any variations permitted by section 3.04.

(3) The water resources must be those described in Part 2 of Chapter 3 as the water resources of the water resource plan area and must be identified using the same description of those water resources as is set out in that Part.

10.03 Identification of SDL resource units and water resources

(1) A water resource plan must identify:

(a) each SDL resource unit in the water resource plan area; and

(b) the water resources within each SDL resource unit.

(2) The SDL resource units must be those described in sections 6.02 and 6.03 and Schedules 2 and 4 as the SDL resource units within the water resource plan area, as applicable.

(3) The water resources within each SDL resource unit must be those described in sections 6.02 and 6.03, and Schedules 2 and 4.

10.04 Form of water resource plan

Water resource plan constituted by 2 or more instruments

(1) If a water resource plan is constituted by 2 or more instruments or texts, subsections (2) and (3) apply to it.

Note: Subsection 63(1) of the Act states that a water resource plan may be constituted by 2 or more instruments.

(2) The water resource plan must identify the instruments or texts that constitute the water resource plan.

Note: The same instrument or text may be used for more than one water resource plan.

(3) If an instrument or text applies only to some of the water resources of the water resource plan area, the water resource plan must:

(a) identify the water resources or the parts of the water resources to which the instrument or text applies; and

(b) include an indicative map of the water resources identified in paragraph (a).

Water resource plan to include list of requirements

 (4) A water resource plan must include a list that specifies:

(a) each requirement set out in this Chapter (individually or by reference to a group of requirements); and

(b) the part of the plan that addresses each requirement (or group of requirements); and

(c) the parts of the plan that will cease to have effect or are to be reviewed, and the times at which those parts will cease to have effect or are to be reviewed.

Note: For paragraphs (a) and (b), the list may, for example, group multiple requirements in Chapter 10 together and specify that those requirements are addressed in a single document that deals with those requirements.

Material not forming part of the water resource plan

(5) If a water resource plan is constituted by an instrument or text which contains additional material that is not part of the water resource plan, the water resource plan must identify that material.

Note: See paragraph (d) of the definition of water resource plan in section 4 of the Act.

10.05 Regard to other water resources

A water resource plan must:

(a) be prepared having regard to the management and use of any water resources which have a significant hydrological connection to the water resources of the water resource plan area; and

(b) describe the way in which paragraph (a) was complied with.

10.06 Matters relating to requirements of Chapter

(1) For each matter that this Chapter requires to be dealt with in a water resource plan, the plan must specify the person responsible for the matter.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), if a water resource plan requires a measure or action to be undertaken, the plan must specify the person responsible for undertaking that measure or action.

10.07 Consultation to be demonstrated

(1) A water resource plan prepared by a Basin State must contain a description of the consultation in relation to the plan (including in relation to any part of the plan), if any, that was undertaken before the State gave the plan to the Authority under subsection 63(1) of the Act.

Note: A water resource plan prepared by the Authority and adopted under section 69 of the Act is a legislative instrument. The Legislative Instruments Act 2003 requires that the explanatory statements for such plans describe the consultation undertaken in relation to the plans.

(2) If a water resource plan is amended in accordance with section 65 of the Act, the plan must contain a description of the consultation in relation to the amendment, if any, that was undertaken before the relevant Basin State gave the proposed amendment to the Authority under subsection 65(2) of the Act.

Part 3—Incorporation and application of longterm annual diversion limit

Division 1—Water access rights

10.08 Water access rights must be identified

(1) A water resource plan must identify the following:

(a) each form of take from each SDL resource unit in the water resource plan area;

(b) any classes of water access right that apply to the forms of take identified under paragraph (a);

(c) the characteristics of each class of right including, where appropriate, the number of rights and any conditions on the exercise of the rights.

(2) A water resource plan must require a holder of a water access right to comply with the conditions of that right.

10.09 Identification of planned environmental water and register of held environmental water

(1) A water resource plan must identify the planned environmental water in the water resource plan area and associated rules and arrangements relating to that water.

(2) A water resource plan must provide for the establishment and maintenance of a register, to be published on a website specified by the plan, of held environmental water for the water resource plan area which records:

(a) the characteristics of held environmental water in the water resource plan area (for example, quantity, reliability, security class, licence type, limitations); and

(b) who holds that water.

(3) Subsection (2) is satisfied if the plan identifies a register of held environmental water which records the matters required by subsection (2) and is published on a website.

Division 2—Take for consumptive use

Note: This Division sets out the principal provisions for how a water resource plan incorporates and applies the SDL for each SDL resource unit. The SDLs take effect from 1 July 2019. Water resource plans may be accredited before then and have effect until the relevant time referred to in section 64 of the Act.

10.10 Annual determinations of water permitted to be taken

(1) For each SDL resource unit in a water resource plan area, and for each form of take, the water resource plan must set out the method for determining the maximum quantity of water that the plan permits to be taken for consumptive use during a water accounting period.

(2) The method for subsection (1) may include modelling, and must be designed to be applied after the end of the relevant water accounting period, having regard to the water resources available during the period.

(3) The method must:

(a) account for the matters in subsection 10.12(1); and

(b) be consistent with the other provisions of the water resource plan.

(4) The plan must also set out a demonstration that the method relates to the SDL of each resource unit in such a way that, if applied over a repeat of the historical climate conditions, it would result in meeting the SDL for the resource unit, including as amended under section 23B of the Act.

Note 1: Under the Basin Plan, the SDL is the same as the longterm annual diversion limit because the temporary diversion provision for each SDL resource unit is zero. Section 6.04 and Schedules 2 and 4 set out the SDLs for each SDL resource unit.

Note 2: Amendments under section 23B of the Act are made following proposals for adjustment under Chapter 7.

(5) If, as a result of an amendment under section 23B of the Act, the SDL for a surface water SDL resource unit is expressed as a formula that changes with time, the SDL for subsection (4) is taken to be:

(a) for a water accounting period beginning on or after 1 July 2019—the SDL as it stood on 30 June 2019; and

(b) for a water accounting period beginning on or after 1 July 2022—the SDL as it stood on 30 June 2022; and

(c) for a water accounting period beginning on or after 1 July 2024—the SDL as it stood on the day before the beginning of the relevant water accounting period.

10.11 Rules for take, including water allocation rules

(1) A water resource plan must set out rules (including, if applicable, rules for water allocations) that ensure, as far as practicable, that the quantity of water actually taken from each SDL resource unit for consumptive use in a water accounting period that beginning on or after 1 July 2019 does not (after making any adjustments for the disposal or acquisition of held environmental water) exceed the unit’s annual permitted take for the period.

Note 1: Water resource plans are not required to give effect to the longterm average sustainable diversion limits until 1 July 2019. Compliance with the longterm annual diversion limit will then be measured using the annual permitted take (see Part 4 of Chapter 6). The annual permitted take is defined in subsections 6.10(1) and 6.12B(1).

Note 2: Water allocations can be made during or before a water accounting period. The annual permitted take is usually worked out after the end of a water accounting period.

A water resource plan may provide for less water to be taken

(2) To avoid doubt, the rules may be designed to ensure that the quantity of water that is actually taken for consumptive use from an SDL resource unit in a water accounting period is less than the annual permitted take.

10.12 Matters relating to accounting for water

(1) For paragraph 10.10(3)(a), the following matters must be accounted for:

(a) all forms of take from the SDL resource unit and all classes of water access right;

(b) water allocations that are determined in one water accounting period and used in another, including water allocations that are carried over from one water accounting period to the next;

(c) for a surface water SDL resource unit—return flows, in a way that is consistent with arrangements under the Agreement immediately before the commencement of the Basin Plan;

(d) subject to subsection (3)—trade of water access rights;

(e) water resources which have a significant hydrological connection to the water resources of the SDL resource unit;

(f) circumstances in which there is a change in the way water is taken or held under a water access right;

(g) changes over time in the extent to which water allocations in the unit are utilised;

Note: Paragraph (g) includes what is commonly known as a growthinuse strategy.

(h) water sourced from the Great Artesian Basin and released into a Basin water resource, by excluding that water;

(i) water resources which are used for the purpose of managed aquifer recharge.

(2) Subject to this section, the method may account for other matters.

(3) For paragraph (1)(d), the water resource plan must account for the disposal and acquisition of held environmental water separately and in a way that does not affect the method under section 10.10.

10.13 Limits on certain forms of take

(1) Subject to this section, a water resource plan must require that the longterm annual average quantity of water that can be taken from a surface water SDL resource unit for consumptive use by:

(a) take under basic rights; or

(b) take by runoff dams; or

(c) net take by commercial plantations;

does not exceed the level specified in column 2 of Schedule 3 for that form of take.

(2) The quantity specified in subsection (1) for a form of take may be increased above the level specified in column 2 of Schedule 3 for that form of take if:

(a) the longterm annual average quantity of water that can be taken by another form of take from the same SDL resource unit is changed at the same time so that there is no overall change in the total longterm annual average quantity of water that can be taken; and

(b) take by the forms of take affected by the changes are capable of:

(i) being accurately measured (for example, through the use of a meter); or

(ii) in the case of a form of take that is not capable of being accurately measured at the time the water resource plan is submitted for accreditation or adoption—being reasonably estimated using the best available method immediately before the water resource plan is submitted; and

(c) the changes are not expected to result in the take from the SDL resource unit ceasing to be an environmentally sustainable level of take.

10.14 Effects, and potential effects, on water resources of the water resource plan area 

(1) A water resource plan must identify the effect, or potential effect, if any, of the following on the use and management of the water resources of the water resource plan area:

(a) the taking of groundwater that is not a Basin water resource resulting in water being removed from a groundwater SDL resource unit in the water resource plan area because of a preexisting hydrological connection or a hydrological connection created by the process of taking that groundwater;

(b) the taking of groundwater that is not a Basin water resource resulting in water that would otherwise flow directly or indirectly into an SDL resource unit in the water resource plan area no longer flowing into that unit.

(2) If a water resource plan identifies an effect, or potential effect, of the kind referred to in subsection (1), the water resource plan must set out:

(a) a process for monitoring that effect or potential effect; and

(b) actions that will be taken to respond to that effect or potential effect.

(3) Without limiting paragraph (2)(b), the water resource plan may require a person to hold a water access right in the water resource plan area in relation to the effect, or potential effect, identified.

Division 3—Actual take

10.15 Determination of actual take must be specified

(1) A water resource plan must set out how the quantity of water actually taken for consumptive use by each form of take from each SDL resource unit will be determined after the end of a water accounting period using the best information available at the time.

Note: The annual actual take for the SDL resource unit is the sum of the quantity of water actually taken by each form of take for consumptive use: see subsections 6.10(2) and 6.12B(2). Paragraph 71(1)(c) of the Act requires the annual actual take to be set out in a report to the Authority within 4 months after the end of the water accounting period.

(2) For a particular form of take, and subject to the requirement that a determination use the best information available at the time, a determination may be made by:

(a) measuring the quantity of water actually taken; or

(b) estimating the quantity of water actually taken; or

(c) a combination of the above.

(3) Where a determination for a form of take is made by estimating the quantity of water actually taken, the water resource plan must provide for the estimate to be done consistently with the method under subsection 10.10(1) that relates to that form of take.

(4) The quantity of water actually taken must:

(a) include water that was held environmental water which was disposed of and then used in the SDL resource unit for consumptive use; and

(b) exclude water sourced from the Great Artesian Basin and released into and taken from a Basin water resource.

Part 4—The sustainable use and management of water resources

Division 1—Sustainable use and management

10.16 Sustainable use and management of water resources

This Part sets out the requirements in relation to the sustainable use and management of water resources of the water resource plan area within the longterm annual diversion limit for an SDL resource unit.

Division 2—Surface water

10.17 Priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions

(1) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to whether it is necessary for it to include rules which ensure that the operation of the plan does not compromise the meeting of environmental watering requirements of priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions.

Note: The environmental watering requirements of priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions will be set out in longterm watering plans and may also be set out in the Basinwide environmental watering strategy. Longterm watering plans are required to use the methods in Part 5 of Chapter 8 to identify those requirements.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), regard must be had to whether it is necessary for the rules to prescribe:

(a) the times, places and rates at which water is permitted to be taken from a surface water SDL resource unit; and

(b) how water resources in the water resource plan area must be managed and used.

(3) If the outcome of the requirement in subsection (1) is that such rules are necessary, the water resource plan must include those rules.

Division 3—Groundwater

10.18 Priority environmental assets dependent on groundwater

(1) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to whether it is necessary for it to include rules which ensure that, for priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions that depend on groundwater, the operation of the plan does not compromise the meeting of environmental watering requirements.

Note: The environmental watering requirements of priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions will be set out in longterm watering plans and may also be set out in the Basinwide environmental watering strategy. Longterm watering plans are required to use the methods in Part 5 of Chapter 8 to identify those requirements.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), regard must be had to whether it is necessary for the water resource plan to include rules that specify:

(a) the times, places and rates at which water is permitted to be taken from a groundwater SDL resource unit; and

(b) resource condition limits, being limits beyond which the taking of groundwater will, for a priority environmental asset that depends on groundwater, compromise an environmental watering requirement; and

(c) restrictions on the water permitted to be taken (including the times, places and rates at which water may be taken) in order to prevent a resource condition limit from being exceeded.

(3) If the outcome of the requirement in subsection (1) is that such rules are necessary, the water resource plan must include those rules.

10.19 Groundwater and surface water connections

(1) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to whether it is necessary for it to include rules which ensure that, for groundwater that has a significant hydrological connection to surface water, the operation of the plan does not compromise the meeting of environmental watering requirements (for example, base flows).

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), regard must be had to whether it is necessary for the water resource plan to include rules that specify:

(a) the times, places and rates at which water is permitted to be taken from a groundwater SDL resource unit; and

(b) resource condition limits, being limits beyond which the taking of groundwater will compromise the discharge of water into any surface water resource; and

(c) restrictions on the water permitted to be taken (including the times, places and rates at which water may be taken) in order to prevent a resource condition limit from being exceeded.

(3) If the outcome of the requirement in subsection (1) is that such rules are necessary, the water resource plan must include those rules.

10.20 Productive base of groundwater

 (1) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to whether it is necessary for it to include rules which ensure that the operation of the plan does not compromise:

 (a) the overall structural integrity of the aquifer (whether within or outside the water resource plan area) arising from take within the longterm annual diversion limit for an SDL resource unit; or             

 (b) the overall hydraulic relationships and properties between groundwater and surface water systems, between groundwater systems, and within groundwater systems.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), regard must be had to whether it is necessary for the water resource plan to include rules that specify:

(a) the times, places and rates at which water is permitted to be taken from a groundwater SDL resource unit; and

(b) any zones in the water resource plan area where continued groundwater extraction will result in a longterm decline in groundwater levels; and

(c) measures to prevent any longterm decline in groundwater levels in that zone, except where the groundwater is a nonrenewable groundwater resource; and

(d) for a nonrenewable groundwater resource—the planned rate of decline in groundwater levels and the anticipated groundwater levels after 50 years from the commencement of the water resource plan; and

(e) resource condition limits, being limits beyond which the taking of groundwater from the SDL resource unit will compromise the objectives in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b); and

(f) restrictions on the water permitted to be taken (including the times, places and rates at which water may be taken) in order to prevent a resource condition limit from being exceeded.

(3) If the outcome of the requirement in subsection (1) is that such rules are necessary, the water resource plan must include those rules.

10.21 Additional requirements for Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB and GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units

 (1) A water resource plan for the NSW MurrayDarling Basin Porous Rock water resource plan area must, in relation to the Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB and Sydney Basin MDB SDL resource units, include rules that are designed to ensure that the objectives set out in the following provisions are met:

 (a) section 10.18;

 (b) section 10.19;

 (c) section 10.20.

 (2) A water resource plan for the GoulburnMurray water resource plan area must, in relation to the GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource unit, include rules that are designed to ensure that the objective set out in section 10.20 is met.

Note: The objectives set out in the provisions referred to are the following:

(a) in section 10.18—that for priority environmental assets and priority ecosystem functions that depend on groundwater, the operation of the plan does not compromise the meeting of environmental watering requirements;

(b) in section 10.19—that for groundwater that has a significant hydrological connection to surface water, the operation of the plan does not compromise the meeting of environmental watering requirements;

(c) in section 10.20—that the operation of the plan does not compromise:

 (i) the overall structural integrity of the aquifer (whether within or outside the water resource plan area) arising from take within the longterm annual diversion limit for an SDL resource unit; or             

 (ii) the overall hydraulic relationships and properties between groundwater and surface water systems, between groundwater systems, and within groundwater systems.

 

Division 4—How requirements have been met

10.22 Description of how requirements have been met

A water resource plan must:

(a) describe what was done to comply with the requirements in this Part; and

(b) if a risk of a kind referred to in subsection 10.41(1) has been identified in relation to the water resources of the water resource plan area—explain why rules addressing the risk have or have not been included in the plan.

Part 5—Interception activities

10.23 Listing types of interception activity

(1) A water resource plan must, having regard to the risk identification and assessment conducted for section 10.41, specify whether there are any types of interception activity in the water resource plan area which have the potential to have a significant impact on:

(a) the water resources of the water resource plan area; or

(b) water resources which are hydrologically connected to the water resources of the water resource plan area;

whether on an activitybyactivity basis, or cumulatively.

(2) If there are any such types of interception activity, the water resource plan must list those types.

(3) For the purpose of determining whether a type of interception activity is of the kind referred to in subsection (1), regard must be had to the following factors:

(a) the location of particular activities of that type in the water resource plan area;

(b) the impact of the type of activity on the availability of:

(i) the water resources of the water resource plan area; and

(ii) any water resources which are hydrologically connected to the water resources of the water resource plan area;

(c) the projected growth of the type of activity over the period for which the water resource plan will have effect.

Note: The following are types of interception activity which may have the potential to have a significant impact on the water resources of a water resource plan area:

 (a) interception by runoff dams;

 (b) interception by commercial plantations;

 (c) interception by mining activities, including coal seam gas  mining;

 (d) interception by floodplain harvesting.

10.24 Monitoring impact of interception activities

If a water resource plan includes a list of the kind referred to in subsection 10.23(2), the plan must set out, in respect of each type of interception activity listed, a process for monitoring the impact of that type of activity on:

(a) the water resources of the water resource plan area; and

(b) water resources which are hydrologically connected to the water resources of the water resource plan area.

10.25 Actions to be taken

(1) A water resource plan must identify actions that will be taken in the event that monitoring under section 10.24 shows that:

(a) an impact of a type of interception activity compromises the meeting of an environmental watering requirement; or

(b) an impact of several types of activity together compromises the meeting of an environmental watering requirement; or

(c) there is an increase in the quantity of water being intercepted by a type of activity;

after the commencement of the water resource plan.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the relevant outcome in paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) is accounted for by the method under subsection 10.10(1).

Note 1:  This section provides a mechanism to address unanticipated effects of, or changes in, interception activity.

Note 2: Section 10.13 sets out the circumstances in which a water resource plan may allow for an increase in anticipated take by an interception activity.

Part 6—Planning for environmental watering

10.26 Planning for environmental watering

(1) A water resource plan must provide for environmental watering to occur in a way that:

(a) is consistent with:

(i) the environmental watering plan; and

(ii) the Basinwide environmental watering strategy; and

(b) contributes to the achievement of the objectives in Part 2 of Chapter 8.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the water resource plan must be prepared having regard to:

(a) the most recent version of the longterm watering plan prepared in accordance with the requirements of Division 3 of Part 4 of Chapter 8; and

(b) the views of local communities, including bodies established by a Basin State that express community views in relation to environmental watering.

10.27 Enabling environmental watering between connected water resources

(1) This section applies if:

(a) there are 2 water resource plan areas that contain surface water; and

(b) there is a surface water connection between the 2 areas.

(2) The water resource plan for each of the areas must provide for the coordination of environmental watering between the 2 areas.

10.28 No net reduction in the protection of planned environmental water

A water resource plan must ensure that there is no net reduction in the protection of planned environmental water from the protection provided for under State water management law immediately before the commencement of the Basin Plan.

Part 7—Water quality objectives

Note: Section 1.07 defines water quality to include water salinity.

Division 1—Requirement for water quality management plan

10.29 Water resource plan to include WQM Plan

A water resource plan must include a water quality management plan (WQM Plan). The WQM Plan must:

(a) for water resource plan areas made up of only surface water SDL resource units—be made in accordance with Division 2;

(b) for water resource plan areas made up of only groundwater SDL resource units—be made in accordance with Division 3;

(c) for water resource plan areas made up of both surface water SDL resource units and groundwater SDL resource units—be made in accordance with:

(i) Division 2 in relation to surface water SDL resource units (as if a reference in Division 2 to the water resource plan area were a reference to the surface water SDL resource units of the water resource plan area); and

(ii) Division 3 in relation to groundwater SDL resource units (as if a reference in Division 3 to the water resource plan area were a reference to the groundwater SDL resource units of the water resource plan area).

Division 2—Surface water

10.30 WQM Plan to identify key causes of water quality degradation

The WQM Plan must identify the causes, or likely causes, of water quality degradation in the water resource plan area having regard to the key causes of water quality degradation identified in Part 2 of Chapter 9 and set out in Schedule 10.

10.31 Measures addressing risks arising from water quality degradation

If a risk of a kind mentioned in paragraph 10.41(2)(d) has been identified in relation to the water resources of the water resource plan area, the WQM Plan must explain why measures addressing the risk have or have not been included in the water resource plan.

10.32 WQM Plan to identify water quality target values

(1) The WQM Plan must identify the water quality target values for the water resource plan area.

(2) The water quality target values are the following:

(a) for fresh waterdependent ecosystems—the applicable target values referred to in section 9.16;

(b) for irrigation water—the target values for water quality characteristics set out in section 9.17;

(c) for water used for recreational purposes—the values set out in section 9.18.

Note: The ADWG sets out standards for the quality of raw water for treatment for human consumption.

(3) However, if the objectively determined actual value of a water quality characteristic at a site is better than the target value identified in subsection (2), then the target value is that better value.

Note: See the objective in section 9.08.

(4) The WQM Plan may specify an alternative water quality target value if:

(a) it is consistent with the water quality objectives in Part 3 of Chapter 9; and

(b) it is determined in accordance with the procedures set out in the ANZECC Guidelines; and

(c) either:

(i) the alternative target value provides a better level of protection than the value that would apply under subsection (2) or (3), as applicable; or

(ii) the WQM Plan sets out reasons why the alternative target value will be as effective in achieving the objectives in Part 3 of Chapter 9; or

(iii) the WQM Plan sets out reasons why the target value in subsection (2) or (3), as applicable, is inappropriate for the water resource plan area; and

(d) for a water resource that is also covered by a water resource plan area of another Basin State—it is developed in consultation with that State.

10.33 WQM Plan to identify measures

(1) The WQM Plan must specify measures to be undertaken in or in relation to the water resources of the water resource plan area that contribute to the achievement of the objectives set out in:

(a) section 9.04 (Objectives of waterdependent ecosystems); and

(b) section 9.05 (Objectives for raw water for treatment for human consumption); and

(c) section 9.06 (Objective for irrigation water); and

(d) section 9.07 (Objective for recreational water quality); and

(e) section 9.08 (Objective to maintain good levels of water quality);

unless there are no such measures that can be undertaken costeffectively.

(2) The measures must be prepared having regard to:

(a) the causes, or likely causes, of water quality degradation identified in accordance with section 10.30; and

(b) target values identified in accordance with section 10.32; and

(c) the targets in Division 4 of Part 4 of Chapter 9.

(3) The measures may include land management measures.

Note 1: Chapter 9 contains both water quality objectives and water quality targets. A WQM Plan must specify measures that contribute to the achievement of the objectives. The targets are relevant only to the extent that subsection (2) requires that the measures be prepared having regard to the targets. This section does not require a WQM Plan to set out measures designed to achieve the targets.

Note 2: See also subsections 22(9) to (12) of the Act.

10.34 WQM Plan to identify locations of targets for irrigation water

The WQM Plan must identify the sites in the water resource plan area at which the target values for irrigation water apply.

10.35 Impact of WQM Plan on another Basin State

The measures specified in the WQM Plan must be developed having regard to:

(a) the impact those measures (including the absence of adequate measures) may have on the ability of another Basin State to meet water quality targets; and

(b) any adverse impacts those measures may have on Basin water resources in the other Basin State.

Note: See also the consultation requirement in subsection 63(2) of the Act.

 

Division 3—Groundwater

10.35A WQM Plan to identify key causes of water quality degradation

The WQM Plan must identify the causes, or likely causes, of water quality degradation in the water resource plan area having regard to the key causes of water quality degradation identified in Part 2 of Chapter 9 and set out in Schedule 10.

 10.35B WQM Plan to identify water quality target values

(1) The WQM Plan must identify the water quality target values for the water resource plan area.

(2) The water quality target values are the following:

(a) for fresh waterdependent ecosystems—the applicable target values referred to in section 9.16;

(b) for irrigation water—the target values for water quality characteristics set out in section 9.17;

(c) for water used for recreational purposes—the values set out in section 9.18. 

(3) However, the WQM Plan may specify alternative water quality target values if they are consistent with the water quality objectives in Part 3 of Chapter 9.

10.35C Consideration to be given to rules or measures

(1) In preparing the WQM Plan, regard must be had to whether it is desirable for it to include rules or measures that support the maintenance of water quality within groundwater SDL resource units against the effects of elevated levels of salinity and other types of water quality degradation, taking into account the causes, or likely causes, of water quality degradation identified under section 10.35A and the water quality target values identified under section 10.35B. 

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), regard must be had to whether it is desirable for the WQM Plan to include rules or measures that specify:

(a) the times, places and rates at which water is permitted to be taken from a groundwater SDL resource unit; and

(b) resource condition limits, being limits beyond which the taking of groundwater from the groundwater SDL resource unit will result in an elevated level of salinity or another type of water quality degradation; and

(c) restrictions on the water permitted to be taken (including the times, places and rates at which water may be taken) in order to prevent a resource condition limit from being exceeded; and

(d) a requirement to establish and maintain a register which identifies the sites of bores used to monitor salinity or other water quality characteristics in the groundwater SDL resource unit.

(3) If the outcome of the requirement in subsection (1) is that such rules or measures are desirable, the WQM Plan must include those rules or measures, or explain why they have not been included.

10.35D Additional requirement for Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB and GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units

The WQM Plan for the following water resource plan areas must include rules or measures that are designed to ensure that the objective set out in section 10.35C is met:

(a) the NSW MurrayDarling Basin Porous Rock water resource plan area, in relation to the Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB and Sydney Basin MDB SDL resource units;

(b) the GoulburnMurray water resource plan area, in relation to the GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource unit. 

Note: The objective set out in section 10.35C is that water quality within a groundwater SDL resource unit is maintained against the effects of elevated levels of salinity and other types of water quality degradation.

Part 8—Trade of water access rights

10.36 Application of Part

This Part does not apply to water access rights of a kind that are not able to be traded under State water management law.

10.37 Circumstances in which conditions in section 12.24 are met

(1) A water resource plan must set out the circumstances in which trade between 2 locations within a groundwater SDL resource unit is permitted. In setting out the circumstances, a water resource plan must ensure that each condition set out in section 12.24 will be met in relation to the proposed trade.

(2) If the water resource plan applies a conversion rate to meet the condition in paragraph 12.24(d), the water resource plan must either:

(a) specify the conversion rate; or

(b) set out the way in which the conversion rate will be determined from time to time and made generally available.

10.38 Circumstances in which conditions in section 12.25 are met

(1) A water resource plan must set out the circumstances in which trade between 2 groundwater SDL resource units is permitted. In setting out the circumstances, a water resource plan must ensure that each condition set out in section 12.25 will be met in relation to proposed trade.

(2) If the water resource plan applies a conversion rate to meet the condition in paragraph 12.25(e), the water resource plan must either:

(a) specify the conversion rate; or

(b) set out the way in which the conversion rate will be determined from time to time and made generally available.

10.39 Circumstances in which conditions in section 12.26 are met

(1) A water resource plan must set out the circumstances in which trade between a groundwater SDL resource unit and a surface water SDL resource unit is permitted. In setting out the circumstances, a water resource plan must ensure that each condition set out in section 12.26 will be met in relation to proposed trade.

(2) If the water resource plan applies a conversion rate to meet the condition in paragraph 12.26(e), the water resource plan must either:

(a) specify the conversion rate; or

(b) set out the way in which the conversion rate will be determined from time to time and made generally available.

Part 9—Approaches to addressing risks to water resources

10.40 Definitions

In this Part:

risk means a risk listed in a water resource plan in accordance with subsection 10.41(4).

level of risk has the meaning given in AS/NZS ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management—Principles and Guidelines.

10.41 Risk identification and assessment methodology

(1) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to current and future risks to the condition and continued availability of the water resources of the water resource plan area.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the risks include (where applicable):

(a) risks to the capacity to meet environmental watering requirements; and

(b) risks arising from the matters referred to in subsection 10.20(1); and

(c) risks arising from potential interception activities; and

(d) risks arising from elevated levels of salinity or other types of water quality degradation.

(3) In identifying risks for the purposes of subsection (1), regard must be had to:

(a) risks identified in section 4.02; and

(b) any guidelines published by the Authority in relation to risk identification and risk assessment.

(4) The water resource plan must list the risks identified for the purposes of subsection (1).

(5) The water resource plan must assess each risk.

(6) The water resource plan must define the level of risk of each risk, using the following categories:

(a) low;

(b) medium;

(c) high;

(d) if it is considered appropriate, any additional category.

(7) The water resource plan must describe the data and methods used to identify and assess the risks.

(8) The water resource plan must describe any quantified uncertainties in the level of risk attributed to each risk, including the results of any sensitivity analysis.

10.42 Description of risks

A water resource plan must describe:

(a) each risk which is defined in accordance with subsection 10.41(6) as having a medium or higher level of risk; and

(b) factors that contribute to those risks.

10.43 Strategies for addressing risks

(1) If a water resource plan defines a risk in accordance with subsection 10.41(6) as having a medium or higher level of risk, the water resource plan must either:

(a) describe a strategy for the management of the water resources of the water resource plan area to address the risk in a manner commensurate with the level of risk; or

(b) explain why the risk cannot be addressed by the water resource plan in a manner commensurate with the level of risk.

(2) If the water resource plan identifies a risk which relates to a matter dealt with by a requirement in another Part of this Chapter, the strategy must take account of that requirement.

(3) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to:

(a) the strategies listed in subsection 4.03(3); and

(b) any guidelines published by the Authority in accordance with section 4.04.

Note: The Authority may publish guidelines in accordance with section 4.04 in relation to the implementation of strategies to manage or address risks identified in section 4.02.

Part 10—Measuring and monitoring

10.44 Information relating to measuring take—water access rights

A water resource plan must include the following information in relation to each class of water access right relating to the water resources of the water resource plan area:

(a) the best estimate of the total longterm annual average quantity of water taken that is measured;

(b) the best estimate of the total longterm annual average quantity of water taken that is not measured;

(c) how the quantities under paragraphs (a) and (b) were calculated;

(d) the proportion of the quantity referred to in paragraph (a) that is measured in accordance with standards for measuring agreed by the Basin States and the Commonwealth.

10.45 Supporting measuring

(1) A water resource plan must specify measures for maintaining and, if practicable, improving:

(a) the proportion of take that is measured in the water resource plan area; and

(b) the standard to which take is measured.

(2) The water resource plan must specify the timeframe for implementing the measures.

10.46 Monitoring water resources

(1) A water resource plan must specify the monitoring of the water resources of the water resource plan area that will be done to enable the Basin State to fulfil its reporting obligations under section 13.14.

(2) Nothing in this section limits the capacity of the Basin State to conduct other monitoring of the water resources of a water resource plan area.

Part 11—Reviews of water resource plans

10.47 Review of water resource plans

A water resource plan must require that if a review of the plan (or a part of the plan) is undertaken, the report of the review must be given to the Authority within 30 days after the report is completed.

10.47A  Additional requirements for Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB and GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units             

  If a review of the relevant water resource plan in relation to any of the Western Porous Rock, GunnedahOxley Basin MDB, Sydney Basin MDB or GoulburnMurray: Sedimentary Plain SDL resource units is undertaken, the review must assess:

(a) the effectiveness of the implementation of the rules of the water resource plan; and

(b) the extent to which the rules achieve the objectives mentioned in sections 10.21 and 10.35C.

10.48 Amendment of water resource plan

A water resource plan must require a Basin State that proposes an amendment to the plan arising from a review to give the reasons for the amendment to the Authority.

Note: See also section 65 of the Act.

Part 12—Information used to prepare water resource plan

10.49 Best available information

(1) A water resource plan must be based on the best available information.

(2) The water resource plan must identify and describe the significant sources of information on which the water resource plan is based.

10.50 Methods used to develop water resource plan

A water resource plan must identify any significant method, model or tool that has been used to develop the water resource plan.

Part 13—Extreme events

10.51 Measures in response to extreme events

(1) A water resource plan must describe how the water resources of the water resource plan area will be managed during the following types of events:

(a) an extreme dry period;

(b) a water quality event of an intensity, magnitude and duration that is sufficient to render water acutely toxic or unusable for established local uses and values;

(c) any type of event that has resulted in the suspension of a statutory regional water plan in the past 50 years (including a transitional water resource plan or interim water resource plan).

(2) If an event of a type listed in subsection (1) would compromise a Basin State’s ability to meet critical human water needs in the water resource plan area, the water resource plan must set out measures to meet critical human water needs during such an event.

(3) The water resource plan must provide that, if new scientific information suggests a change in the likelihood of an event of a type listed in subsection (1) occurring (for example, due to climate change), consideration must be given to whether, as a result of this new information, the water resources should be managed differently.

Part 14—Indigenous values and uses

Note: If a water resource plan is prepared by a Basin State, it is expected that the Authority will consult with relevant Indigenous organisations in relation to whether the requirements of this Part have been met, for the purposes of paragraph 63(3)(b) of the Act.

10.52 Objectives and outcomes based on Indigenous values and uses

(1) A water resource plan must identify:

(a) the objectives of Indigenous people in relation to managing the water resources of the water resource plan area; and

(b) the outcomes for the management of the water resources of the water resource plan area that are desired by Indigenous people.

(2) In identifying the matters set out in subsection (1), regard must be had to:

(a) the social, spiritual and cultural values of Indigenous people that relate to the water resources of the water resource plan area (Indigenous values); and

(b) the social, spiritual and cultural uses of the water resources of the water resource plan area by Indigenous people (Indigenous uses);

as determined through consultation with relevant Indigenous organisations, including (where appropriate) the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations and the Northern MurrayDarling Basin Aboriginal Nations.

(3) A person or body preparing a water resource plan may identify opportunities to strengthen the protection of Indigenous values and Indigenous uses in accordance with the objectives and outcomes identified under subsection (1), in which case the opportunities must be specified in the water resource plan.

10.53 Consultation and preparation of water resource plan

(1) A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to the views of relevant Indigenous organisations with respect to the matters identified under section 10.52 and the following matters:

(a) native title rights, native title claims and Indigenous Land Use Agreements provided for by the Native Title Act 1993 in relation to the water resources of the water resource plan area;

(b) registered Aboriginal heritage relating to the water resources of the water resource plan area;

(c) inclusion of Indigenous representation in the preparation and implementation of the plan;

(d) Indigenous social, cultural, spiritual and customary objectives, and strategies for achieving these objectives;

(e) encouragement of active and informed participation of Indigenous people;

(f) risks to Indigenous values and Indigenous uses arising from the use and management of the water resources of the water resource plan area.

Note: For examples of the principles that may be applied in relation to the participation of Indigenous people, see the document titled ‘MLDRIN and NBAN Principles of Indigenous Engagement in the MurrayDarling Basin’.

(2) In this section, registered Aboriginal heritage means Aboriginal heritage registered or listed under a law of a Basin State or the Commonwealth that deals with the registration or listing of Aboriginal heritage (regardless of whether the law deals with the listing of other heritage).

10.54 Cultural flows

A water resource plan must be prepared having regard to the views of Indigenous people with respect to cultural flows.

10.55 Retention of current protection

A water resource plan must provide at least the same level of protection of Indigenous values and Indigenous uses as provided in:

(a) a transitional water resource plan for the water resource plan area; or

(b) an interim water resource plan for the water resource plan area.

 

Chapter 11—Critical human water needs

Note: See subsection 86A(2) of the Act for the meaning of critical human water needs.

Part 1—Preliminary

11.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter sets out the following matters in relation to critical human water needs (sections 86B, 86C, 86D and 86E of the Act):

(a) the amount of water required to meet critical human water needs, and the water quality and salinity trigger points (Part 2);

(b) monitoring, assessment and risk management relating to critical human water needs (Part 3);

(c) matters in relation to Tier 2 water sharing arrangements (Part 4);

(d) matters in relation to Tier 3 water sharing arrangements (Part 5).

11.02 Definitions

In this Chapter:

water accounting period means a period of 12 months beginning on 1 June of any year.

water quality characteristic means a water quality characteristic, within the meaning of the ADWG, for which the ADWG sets out a healthrelated guideline value.

Part 2—Water required to meet critical human water needs

11.03 Amount of water required to meet critical human water needs (Act paragraph 86B(1)(a))

For each Basin State that is a referring State (other than Queensland) the amount of water required to meet the critical human water needs of the communities in the State that are dependent on the waters of the River Murray System is:

(a) New South Wales—61 GL per water accounting period;

(b) Victoria—77 GL per water accounting period;

(c) South Australia—204 GL per water accounting period.

11.04 Conveyance water required to deliver water for critical human water needs (Act paragraph 86B(1)(b))

The amount of conveyance water required to deliver the water referred to in section 11.03 is 1,596 GL per water accounting period.

Note 1: The amount specified in this section is based on observed losses from the major storages and the River Murray upstream of the South Australian border during years of low water availability. The amount specified in this section also includes the amount specified in clause 88(b) of the Agreement.

Note 2: See subsection 86A(4) of the Act for the meaning of conveyance water.

11.05 Water quality and salinity trigger points (Act paragraph 86B(1)(c))

(1) This section specifies water quality trigger points and salinity trigger points at which water in the River Murray System becomes unsuitable for meeting critical human water needs.

Note: Section 86F of the Act provides for emergency responses when a water quality trigger point or a salinity trigger point specified in this Part is reached.

Salinity trigger points

(2) A salinity trigger point is reached if a member of the Basin Officials Committee advises the Authority that:

(a) a water supply authority has taken raw water from the River Murray System, at any site at or upstream from Wellington, for the purpose of treatment and supply for human consumption; and

(b) the level of salinity in that water is 1,400 EC (µS/cm) or greater.

Water quality trigger points

(3) A water quality trigger point is reached if a member of the Basin Officials Committee advises the Authority that:

(a) a water supply authority has taken raw water from the River Murray System, at any site at or upstream from Wellington, for the purpose of treatment and supply for human consumption; and

(b) the level of a water quality characteristic of the water makes it impracticable for the water supply authority to treat the water so that it meets the relevant guideline values set out in the ADWG; and

(c) it is expected that it will continue to be impracticable to treat the water so that it meets the relevant guideline values set out in the ADWG.

Part 3—Monitoring, assessment and risk management

Note:  For the purposes of paragraph 86C(1)(a) of the Act, arrangements for monitoring matters that are relevant to critical human water needs are dealt with in Chapter 13.

11.06 Process for assessing inflow prediction (Act paragraph 86C(1)(b))

River Murray System

(1) The process by which the Authority must assess inflow prediction for the River Murray System involves:

(a) monitoring the volume of inflow; and

(b) having regard to the best available information about likely inflow, including:

(i) tributary inflow estimates provided by the Basin States; and

(ii) information about daily, monthly and seasonal rainfall, temperature and climate; and

(c) regularly reviewing trends in climate and inflow patterns.

Snowy water licence

(2) The processes by which the Authority must assess inflow prediction, in relation to works that are under the control of the body that is entitled, under the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 of New South Wales, to the Snowy water licence within the meaning of that Act, are set out in Part III of Schedule F to the Agreement.

Inflow prediction

(3) The Authority must use the processes set out in subsections (1) and (2) to prepare a range of predictions of possible inflow into the River Murray System.

11.07 Process for managing risks to critical human water needs associated with inflow prediction (Act paragraph 86C(1)(b))

(1) The Authority must manage the risks to critical human water needs in the River Murray System associated with inflow prediction in accordance with this section.

(2) Based on the inflow predictions and other information mentioned in section 11.06 and the forecasts of water quality mentioned in paragraph 11.08(1)(e), the Authority must identify risk factors and assess the risks of the following events:

(a) the full amount of the amount of conveyance water specified in section 11.04 will not be available;

(b) the full amount of water to be reserved under subsection 11.12(2) will not be available;

(c) water quality and salinity trigger points under section 11.05 will be reached.

(3) If the Authority’s assessment of inflow prediction indicates that advances under clause 102C of, or Schedule H to, the Agreement may be required in a water accounting period, the Authority must identify and assess the risks to critical human water needs associated with such advances.

(4) The Authority must manage the risks to critical human water needs associated with inflow prediction by managing the operation of the River Murray System in accordance with the Agreement having regard to:

(a) the efficient and effective operation of the River Murray System; and

(b) the need to operate the River Murray System so as to ensure that there is water in the system that is of a suitable quality to meet critical human water needs; and

(c) the water quality and salinity trigger points under section 11.05; and

(d) the need to undertake water resource assessments, including worst case planning water resource assessments; and

(e) the Authority’s obligations under clause 50 of the Agreement; and

(f) the need to set aside, and draw upon, a conveyance reserve in accordance with Division 2 of Part 4 of this Chapter; and

(g) the need to operate the River Murray System in coordination with the operation of:

(i) works that are under the control of the body that is entitled, under the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Act 1997 of New South Wales, to the Snowy water licence within the meaning of that Act; and

(ii) tributaries of the River Murray System, in particular the operation of the Goulburn River in Victoria and the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales; and

(iii) the Menindee Lakes Storage when it is under the control of New South Wales.

11.08 Risk management approach for interannual planning (Act paragraph 86C(1)(c)) 

(1) The Authority’s risk management approach for interannual planning relating to arrangements for critical human water needs must be based on:

(a) the reserves policy specified in Division 2 of Part 4; and

(b) the inflow predictions and other information mentioned in section 11.06; and

(c) the risk assessments made, the risk management approaches and measures adopted, and the information gathered under section 11.07; and

(d) the efficient operation of the River Murray System in accordance with the Agreement and the ‘Objectives and Outcomes’ document prepared under clause 31 of the Agreement; and

(e) monitoring and forecasting of water quality in the River Murray System and communication between the Authority, Basin States and private providers of data about water quality.

(2) The Authority must have regard to:

(a) water resource assessments; and

(b) accounts kept by the Authority in accordance with Subdivision D of Division 1 of Part XII of the Agreement;

when making decisions about:

(c) the volume of water to be made available to the Basin States, in a particular year; and

(d) whether water is set aside in the conveyance reserve for future years.

Note: Part XII of the Agreement will also apply to the Authority in making such decisions.

(3) A Basin State must have regard to advice from the Authority regarding the volume of water to be made available to it in a particular year, when making decisions about whether water is made available for uses other than meeting critical human water needs.

(4) When Tier 3 water sharing arrangements apply, the Ministerial Council must have regard to the water accounts and water resource assessments when making decisions about:

(a) whether water is made available, in a particular year, for uses other than meeting critical human water needs; and

(b) whether water is set aside in the conveyance reserve for future years.

Note:  Part 5 of this Chapter deals with when Tier 3 water sharing arrangements commence and when they cease to apply.

Part 4—Tier 2 water sharing arrangements

Note: See Division 2 of Part XII of the Agreement for Tier 2 water sharing arrangements.

 

Division 1—When Tier 2 water sharing arrangements apply

11.09 Commencement of Tier 2 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86D(1)(a))

(1) If the Authority is satisfied that either subsection (2) or subsection (3) applies, it may, by a notice published on its website:

(a) declare which of the subsections applies; and

(b) declare that Tier 1 water sharing arrangements cease, and Tier 2 water sharing arrangements enter into effect from the date specified in the notice.

Note 1: See Division 1 of Part XII of the Agreement for Tier 1 water sharing arrangements.

Note 2:  Tier 2 water sharing arrangements can also commence under subsection 11.16(1) if Tier 3 arrangements cease to apply. 

Insufficient water to provide conveyance water in current water accounting period

(2) This subsection applies if at any time between the first day in June and the last day in August of the same water accounting period, the worst case planning water resource assessment indicates that the balance of the amount of conveyance water specified in section 11.04 cannot be supplied for the remainder of that water accounting period.

Insufficient water to set aside conveyance reserve for next water accounting period

(3) This subsection applies if at any time between the first day in September and the last day in May of the same water accounting period, the worst case planning water resource assessment indicates that the amount of water required to be reserved under subsection 11.12(2) cannot be set aside by the end of that water accounting period.

(4) In deciding whether subsection (2) or subsection (3) applies, no advances under clause 102C of the Agreement are to be taken into account.

11.10 Cessation of Tier 2 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86D(1)(b))

(1) If Tier 2 water sharing arrangements are in effect, but the Authority is satisfied that subsection (2) applies, it may, by a notice published on its website:

(a) declare that the subsection applies; and

(b) declare that Tier 2 water sharing arrangements cease, and Tier 1 water sharing arrangements enter into effect, on the date specified in the notice.

(2) This subsection applies if:

(a) no measures taken under the Tier 2 and 3 water sharing arrangements in Schedule H to the Agreement are in effect, and in particular:

(i) any advances under clause 7 of that Schedule have been acquitted; and

(ii) there is no plan of action in place under clause 8 of the Schedule; and

(iii) there is no remedial action outstanding under clause 10 of the Schedule; and

(b) the worst case planning water resource assessment indicates that:

(i) the balance of the amount of conveyance water specified in section 11.04 can be supplied for the remainder of the current water accounting period; and

(ii) the amount of water specified in subsection 11.12(2) can be set aside by the end of the current water accounting period; and

(c) the Basin Officials Committee has not determined that an advance is required in the current water accounting period.

Division 2—Tier 2 reserves policy

11.11 Reserves policy (Act paragraph 86D(1)(c))

This Division specifies the reserves policy that applies for periods during which Tier 2 water sharing arrangements apply.

11.12 Meeting the annual shortfall in conveyance water

(1) For subsection 86D(2) of the Act, the shortfall in conveyance water is 620 GL in each year.

Note: The amount is based on the conveyance water amount set in section 11.04 and a minimum historical inflow of 980 GL. The Authority may, under Subdivision F of Division 1 of Part 2 of the Act, prepare an amendment to this provision if the Ministerial Council approves another amount.

(2) For subparagraph 86D(1)(c)(i) of the Act, the annual volume of water required to be reserved by the end of a water accounting period to meet the shortfall in conveyance water is 225 GL.

Note: The amount is based on hydrological modelling. The Authority may, under Subdivision F of Division 1 of Part 2 of the Act, prepare an amendment to this provision if the Ministerial Council approves another amount based on different models or modelling assumptions.

(3) For subparagraph 86D(1)(c)(ii) of the Act, the volume of water specified in subsection (2) must not vary between years.

(4) For subparagraph 102D(2)(a)(ii) of the Agreement, the volume determined in accordance with the Basin Plan is the volume of water specified in subsection (2).

Note 1: While the volume of water specified in subsection 11.12(2) does not vary between years, the volume of water in the conveyance reserve may vary from time to time, owing to the use of the conveyance reserve in accordance with this Part and changes in applicable water sharing arrangements. See section 11.13.

Note 2: The volume of water specified in subsection 11.12(1) has been determined by the Authority in accordance with subsection 86D(2) of the Act on the basis of the minimum inflow sequence to the River Murray System (used by the Authority for planning purposes) including minimum inflows from the Murrumbidgee, Darling and Goulburn Rivers.

11.13 Application of the conveyance reserve provisions of the Agreement

For paragraph 86D(1)(c) of the Act, the arrangements that are to apply to ensure that the volume of water specified in subsection 11.12(2) will be reserved and provided are set out in clause 102D of the Agreement and Schedule H to the Agreement.

11.14 Arrangements for carrying water over in storage

(1) South Australia has the rights provided for in clauses 91 and 130 of the Agreement to store its entitlement to water.

(2) Without limiting the operation of Part XII of the Agreement, New South Wales and Victoria have the right to carry over water in storage described in paragraph 135(14)(a) of the Agreement.

(3) New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are each responsible for meeting the critical human water needs of that State and for deciding how water from their respective water share is used.

Part 5—Tier 3 water sharing arrangements

Note: See Division 3 of Part XII of the Agreement for Tier 3 water sharing arrangements.

11.15 Commencement of Tier 3 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86E(1)(a))

(1) If the Authority is satisfied that either subsection (2) or subsection (3) applies, it may, by a notice published on its website:

(a) declare which of the subsections applies; and

(b) declare that Tier 1 or Tier 2 water sharing arrangements cease, and Tier 3 water sharing arrangements enter into effect, on the date specified in the notice.

(2) This subsection applies if, in either:

(a) circumstances of extreme and unprecedented low levels of water availability in the River Murray System; or

(b) circumstances in which there is an extremely high risk that water will not be available in the River Murray System to meet critical human water needs in the next 12 months;

either of the following paragraphs applies:

(c) the worst case planning water resource assessment indicates that at least one of the amounts of water specified in section 11.03 cannot be supplied by the end of the current water accounting period; or

(d) the worst case planning water resource assessment indicates that the amount of water specified in section 11.04 cannot be supplied by the end of the current water accounting period, taking into account the use of any advances under clause 102C of the Agreement and the use of any remedial action undertaken in accordance with clause 10 of Schedule H to the Agreement.

(3) This subsection applies if, in circumstances of extreme and unprecedented poor water quality in the water available in the River Murray System to meet critical human water needs, a water quality or salinity trigger point specified in subsection 11.05(2) or (3) is reached.

(4) If Tier 1 water sharing arrangements cease in accordance with paragraph (1)(b), Tier 2 water sharing arrangements are:

(a) taken to have entered into effect immediately upon the cessation of Tier 1 water sharing arrangements; and

(b) taken to have ceased immediately afterwards.

11.16 Cessation of Tier 3 water sharing arrangements (Act paragraph 86E(1)(b))

(1) If Tier 3 water sharing arrangements are in place, but the Authority is satisfied that subsections (3) and (4) apply, it may, by a notice published on its website:

(a) declare that both the subsections apply; and

(b) declare that Tier 3 water sharing arrangements cease, and Tier 2 water sharing arrangements enter into effect, on the date specified in the notice.

(2) If the Authority is satisfied that subsections (3) and (4) apply and also that subsection 11.10(2) is satisfied, it may, by a notice published on its website:

(a) declare that all the subsections apply; and

(b) declare that Tier 3 water sharing arrangements cease to have effect, and Tier 1 water sharing arrangements enter into effect, on the date specified in the notice.

(3) This subsection applies if the worst case planning water resource assessment indicates that:

(a) the amounts of water specified in section 11.03 can be supplied by the end of the current water accounting period; and

(b) the amount of conveyance water specified in section 11.04 can be supplied by the end of the current water accounting period, taking into account the use of any advances under clause 102C of the Agreement and the use of any remedial action undertaken in accordance with clause 10 of Schedule H to the Agreement.

(4) This subsection applies if:

(a) raw water has been taken by a water supply authority in accordance with paragraph 11.05(2)(a) and the level of salinity in that water is less than 1,400 EC (µS/cm); and

(b) raw water has been taken by a water supply authority in accordance with paragraph 11.05(3)(a) and:

(i) the levels of water quality characteristics of the water would make it practicable for the water supply authority to treat the water so that it meets the relevant guideline value set out in the ADWG; and

(ii) it is expected that it would continue to be practicable to treat the water so that it meets the relevant guideline values set out in the ADWG.

(5) If Tier 1 water sharing arrangements enter into effect in accordance with subsection (2), Tier 2 water sharing arrangements are:

(a) taken to have entered into effect immediately upon the cessation of Tier 3 water sharing arrangements; and

(b) taken to have ceased immediately afterwards.

 

Chapter 12—Water trading rules

Part 1—Preliminary

12.01 Simplified outline

(1) This section sets out a simplified outline of this Chapter.

(2) This Chapter sets out the water trading rules (item 12 of the table in subsection 22(1) of the Act) which deal with the following:

(a) restrictions on the trade of tradeable water rights (Part 2);

(b) information which must be given by irrigation infrastructure operators in relation to water delivery rights and irrigation rights (Part 3);

(c) disclosure obligations of approval authorities (Part 4);

(d) information which must be made available by Basin States and irrigation infrastructure operators (Part 5).

12.02 Application of Chapter to certain water access rights

Chapter does not apply to nontradeable water access rights

(1) This Chapter does not apply to water access rights of a kind that are not able to be traded under State water management law.

Certain provisions do not apply to trades conducted pursuant to intergovernmental agreements

(2) Sections 12.07, 12.08, 12.09 and 12.14 do not prevent the application of restrictions on a trade of a water access right if:

(a) the restrictions satisfy subsection (3); and

(b) the trade satisfies subsection (4).

(3) For paragraph (2)(a), restrictions satisfy this subsection if they are imposed in furtherance of an agreement that:

(a) is between the Commonwealth and a Basin State or between Basin States; and

(b) relates to trades of held environmental water to, from or between places; and

(c) is for the purpose of achieving one or more environmental outcomes.

(4) For paragraph (2)(b), a trade satisfies this subsection if the trade is either:

(a) of a kind that State water management law:

(i) permits only for held environmental water; and

(ii) did not permit prior to the entry into an agreement of the kind referred to in subsection (3); or

(b) part of a sequence of trades that:

(i) is being conducted in furtherance of an agreement of a kind referred to in subsection (3); and

(ii) contains a trade of a kind referred to in paragraph (a).

Review of subsections (2) to (4)

(5) The Authority must complete a review of the operation of subsections (2) to (4) by 1 July 2020.

(6) In conducting the review, the Authority must obtain, and have regard to, the advice of the ACCC.

Note: After conducting the review, the Authority might seek to amend the Basin Plan under Subdivision F of Division 1 of Part 2 of the Act.

12.03 Water delivery rights to which this Chapter applies

(1) This Chapter applies to a water delivery right if:

(a) the right is held against an irrigation infrastructure operator; and

(b) the irrigation infrastructure operator is entitled to impose a fee upon the termination or surrender of that right, or services provided in relation to that right; and

(c) the Water Charge (Termination Fees) Rules 2009 regulates any fee that might be imposed.

Note: An irrigation infrastructure operator is required to calculate the termination fee in accordance with the Water Charge (Termination Fees) Rules 2009. These Rules also impose certain procedural requirements that must be met before a termination fee can be imposed.

(2) In this Chapter, a reference to the trade, termination or surrender of a water delivery right includes a trade, termination or surrender of part or all of the entitlement to delivery under the water delivery right.

12.04 Reference to a trade to, from or between places

In this Chapter, a reference to the trade of a water access right to, from or between places (for example trading zones, locations, areas, resources or systems) is a reference to a trade which results in a change of location at which the water to which the right relates may be taken.

12.05 Recovery of loss or damage

A person who suffers loss or damage as a result of conduct of another person, other than an agency of a Basin State, that contravenes a section specified in the following table may recover the amount of the loss or damage by action against that other person.

Item

Section

1

12.06

2

12.07

3

12.08

4

12.09

5

12.10

6

12.11

7

12.12

8

12.13

9

12.14

10

12.15

11

12.16

13

12.21

14

12.23

15

12.24

16

12.25

17

12.26

18

12.28

19

12.30

20

12.32

21

12.33

22

12.34

23

12.35

24

12.51

 

Note: See subsection 26(5) of the Act.

Part 2—Restrictions on trade of tradeable water rights

Division 1—Trade of tradeable water rights

Subdivision A—All water resources—right to trade free of certain restrictions

12.06 Separate rights

(1) A person may trade a water access right free of any condition as to the holding, buying, selling, obtaining, accepting or terminating of a separate locationrelated right.

(2) In this section:

locationrelated right means any of the following:

(a) water delivery right;

(b) works approval;

(c) water use approval.

12.07 Class of persons

A person may trade a water access right free of any restriction on the trade that relates to the person being, or not being, a member of a particular class of persons.

Note 1: An example of a class of persons is ‘environmental water user’.

Note 2: See also section 12.27.

12.08 Purpose for which water is used

(1) A person may trade a water access right free of any restriction on the trade that relates to the purpose for which the water relating to that right has been, or will be, used.

(2) This section does not apply to a water access right that is:

(a) a stock right; or

(b) a domestic right; or

(c) a stock and domestic right.

(3) This section does not apply to the trade of a water access entitlement designated for an urban water supply activity under State water management law.

12.09 Take and use of water after a trade

A person may take and use water under a water access right free of any restriction arising from the fact that the person acquired the water access right by way of trade.

12.10 Use outside MurrayDarling Basin

A person may trade a water access right free of any restriction arising from the fact that water extracted under the right might be transported or used outside the MurrayDarling Basin.

12.11 Trade of water allocation which has been carried over

(1) A person may trade a water allocation free of any restriction arising from the fact that the water allocation was carried over from the previous water accounting period under a carryover arrangement.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a) a carryover announcement is required before the water allocation is permitted to be taken; and

(b) no such announcement has been made.

12.12 Access to carryover for traded water access rights

(1) A person may participate in a carryover arrangement in relation to a water access right free of any restriction arising from the fact that the person acquired the water access right by way of trade.

(2) Despite subsection (1), if:

(a) the trade of a water access right results in a change of the water resource to which the right relates; and

(b) the carryover arrangement for the destination water resource is different from that of the origin water resource;

the carryover arrangement for the destination water resource may be applied to the water access right.

Note: See sections 12.21 and 12.22.

12.13 Overallocation

A person may trade a water access right within a water resource free of any restriction based on the fact that a water resource is overallocated.

12.14 Level of use of water access right

(1) A person may trade a water access right free of any restriction based on:

(a) the historical level of use of the water access right; or

(b) an anticipated increase in the use of the water access right.

Note: Section 12.21 prohibits exchange rates being applied to trades within or between regulated systems.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a) the trade is between 2 places (whether or not ownership changes); and

(b) there is a difference in the reliability or availability of water between the 2 places; and

(c) the restriction is necessary in order to account for that difference.

12.15 Trade must not be made conditional on water delivery right

A person may trade a water access right or an irrigation right free of any condition that would require the person to hold, buy, sell, obtain, accept, terminate, or vary the volume or unit share of, a water delivery right.

Subdivision B—Additional rules relating to surface water

12.16 Free trade of surface water

(1) A person may trade a water access right:

(a) within a regulated system; or

(b) between regulated systems; or

(c) within an unregulated system;

free of any restriction on changing the location at which the water to which the right relates may be taken, and any restriction that is a volumetric limit, other than a restriction that:

(d) is necessary because of a reason listed in subsection 12.18(1); and

(e) is consistent with Subdivision A.

(2) For this section, if the boundary between 2 unregulated systems is based solely on the border between 2 Basin States, this section applies as if the 2 unregulated systems were one unregulated system.

12.18 Restrictions allowable for physical or environmental reasons

(1) A restriction of a type referred to in section 12.16 may be necessary because of:

(a) the existence of a physical constraint; or

(b) the need to address hydrologic connections and water supply considerations; or

(c) the need to protect the needs of the environment; or

(d) the level of hydraulic connectivity; or

(e) a combination of any of the above.

(2) In this section, hydrologic connections and water supply considerations, in relation to a water access right, means any of the following:

(a) the amount of transmission loss that may be incurred through evaporation, seepage, or other means;

(b) the potential impact, as a result of the trade of a water access right, on water availability in relation to a water access right held by a third party (other than an impact arising solely because of an increase in use of the traded water access right);

(c) the ability to:

(i) deliver water from the same storage from which it is currently delivered; or

(ii) adjust valley and state transfer accounts to facilitate trade, for example by way of a back trade.

Note 1:  See clause 3 of Schedule D to the Agreement for the meaning of valley account.

Note 2: See clause 5 of the MurrayDarling Basin Agreement (Adjusting Valley Accounts and State Transfer Accounts) Protocol 2010 for the meaning of state transfer account.

12.19 Basin States to notify the InspectorGeneral of restrictions

(1) If a Basin State decides to impose a restriction of a kind referred to in section 12.16, it must notify the InspectorGeneral of the decision and the reasons for the decision.

(2) The notification must be given:

(a) if the restriction was in effect at the commencement of this Chapter—within 30 days after that commencement; or

(b) otherwise—no later than the date of effect of the restriction.

12.20 Basin State may request the InspectorGeneral to make declaration

(1) The InspectorGeneral must make a written declaration that a restriction of a kind referred to in section 12.16 is necessary because of a reason listed in subsection 12.18(1) if:

(a) a Basin State requests the InspectorGeneral to make that declaration; and

(b) the InspectorGeneral is satisfied that the restriction is in fact necessary because of a reason listed in subsection 12.18(1).

(2) The InspectorGeneral may consult other Basin States, the ACCC, and any other interested parties before making the declaration.

(3) The InspectorGeneral must publish the declaration, and the InspectorGeneral’s reasons for being satisfied that the restriction is necessary, on the InspectorGeneral’s website.

Note: See section 25D of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 for content required in a statement of reasons.

12.21 Exchange rates not to be used in a regulated system

A water access entitlement must not be traded in a regulated system or between regulated systems if an exchange rate is applied to the water access entitlement as a condition of the trade.

Note:  See section 12.22 for an exception to this section.

12.22 InspectorGeneral may permit exchange rates in limited circumstances

(1) Section 12.21 does not apply if:

(a) the exchange rate is applied as a condition of the trade of a water access entitlement from one location (location A) to another (location B); and

(b) the InspectorGeneral has made a declaration under this section; and

(c) the water access entitlement is to be traded between the 2 locations at the exchange rate specified in the declaration.

(2) A Basin State may request the InspectorGeneral to make a declaration under this section.

(3) The InspectorGeneral must make a written declaration permitting the application of a specified exchange rate to trades between 2 specified locations if:

(a) the InspectorGeneral is satisfied that the purpose of the exchange rate is to address transmission losses; or

(b) the InspectorGeneral is satisfied that:

(i) the purpose of the exchange rate is to redress the impact of previous exchange rate trades from location B to location A; and

(ii) the total volume of water access entitlements to be traded from location A to location B using the exchange rate would not exceed the total volume of water access entitlements previously traded to location A from location B using exchange rates.

(4) The InspectorGeneral must publish the declaration on its website.

12.23 Restrictions on delivery of water under a tagged water access entitlement established on or after 22 October 2010

(1) If:

(a) a restriction has effect on the trade of water allocations between 2 places, each of which is in a regulated system; and

(b) a tagged water access entitlement exists in relation to those 2 places; and

(c) an order for water is made under the tagged water access entitlement;

the order for water under the tagged water access entitlement is subject to the same restriction.

(2) This section does not apply to a tagged water access entitlement which is established before 22 October 2010.

(3) During the first 5 years after the commencement of this Chapter, this section does not apply to a tagged water access entitlement which is established on or after 22 October 2010 and before the commencement of the Basin Plan.

(4) For this section, a tagged water access entitlement is established once the tag has been approved by all relevant approval authorities.

(5) In this section:

tagged water access entitlement means a water access entitlement:

(a) which is registered on a water register in relation to one place; and

(b) under which the water allocation is extracted in a different place (which is tagged on the register);

pursuant to an arrangement for water access entitlement tagging.

Subdivision C—Additional rules relating to groundwater

12.24 Trade within a groundwater SDL resource unit

The trade of a water access right between 2 locations within a groundwater SDL resource unit is prohibited, unless all the following conditions are met:

(a) there is sufficient hydraulic connectivity between the 2 locations;

(b) any resource condition limits in the SDL resource unit specified in a water resource plan will not be exceeded as a result of the trade;

(c) either:

(i) water access rights in the 2 locations have substantially similar characteristics of timing, reliability and volume; or

(ii) measures are in place to ensure that the water access right to be traded will maintain its characteristics of timing, reliability and volume;

(d) measures are in place to address the impact, as a result of trade, on water availability in relation to a water access right held by a third party.

Note:  Section 10.37 sets out requirements for a water resource plan in relation to this section.

12.25 Trade between groundwater SDL resource units

The trade of a water access right between 2 groundwater SDL resource units is prohibited, unless all the following conditions are met:

(a) there is sufficient hydraulic connectivity between the 2 units;

(b) any resource condition limits in either unit specified in a water resource plan will not be exceeded as a result of the trade;

(c) measures are in place to account for the trade;

(d) either:

(i) water access rights in the 2 units have substantially similar characteristics of timing, reliability and volume; or

(ii) measures are in place to ensure that the water access right to be traded will maintain its characteristics of timing, reliability and volume;

(e) measures are in place to address the impact, as a result of trade, on water availability in relation to a water access right held by a third party.

Note:  Section 10.38 sets out requirements for a water resource plan in relation to this section.

12.26 Trade between groundwater and surface water

The trade of a water access right between a groundwater SDL resource unit and a surface water SDL resource unit is prohibited, unless all the following conditions are met:

(a) there is sufficient hydraulic connectivity between the 2 units;

(b) any resource condition limits in the groundwater SDL resource unit specified in a water resource plan will not be exceeded as a result of the trade;

(c) measures are in place to account for the trade;

(d) either:

(i) water access rights in the 2 units have substantially similar characteristics of timing, reliability and volume; or

(ii) measures are in place to ensure that the water access right to be traded will maintain its characteristics of timing, reliability and volume;

(e) measures are in place to address the impact, as a result of trade, on water availability in relation to a water access right held by a third party.

Note: