About Commonwealth environmental water
As part of a suite of national water reforms, the Australian Government created the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder through the Water Act 2007:
"The functions of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder are to be performed for the purpose of protecting or restoring the environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin ... so as to give effect to relevant international agreements."
Commonwealth water holdings are the direct result of government purchases of entitlements and a substantial investment in more efficient water infrastructure in the Murray Darling Basin. Refer to: Rural water.
The planning, prioritisation, use and monitoring and evaluation of Commonwealth environmental water is informed by a range of stakeholders including the Department of the Environment and other Commonwealth and State government agencies, scientists, catchment and local natural resource management agencies, environmental water advisory groups, water user associations, Indigenous communities and local landholders.
Following the ratification of the Murray Darling Basin Plan on 21 November 2012, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder's decisions on water use, carryover and trade have been made in the context of, and consistent with, the Basin Plan's Environmental Watering Plan, and annual priorities.
Commonwealth environmental water
Basin storages (as at 31 December 2015)
Commonwealth environmental water is held in storages across the Basin. The Commonwealth's environmental water entitlements receive the same allocations and follow the same rules regarding carryover and trade as all other equivalent water licence holders in those systems.
Allocations and carryover in regulated Basin catchments (as at 31 December 2015)
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder receives the same allocations and is required to follow the same carryover, trade and water use rules as all other equivalent water licence holders. Carryover is a strategic planning tool that provides the flexibility to use water from the previous year to meet future season demands.
Water use in Basin catchments (as at 31 December 2015)
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder overseas the management and use of a large portfolio of water for the benefit of the environment. Environmental water is used to protect and restore rivers, wetlands and floodplains, in the interest of sustaining productive river communities, throughout the Murray-Darling Basin.
As at 31 December 2015, the Commonwealth environmental water holdings total 2,395,725 megalitres of registered entitlements with a Long term average annual yield of 1,663,865 megalitres.
For more information see:
The figure below shows water availability and water use as at 30 June each year from 2008-09 to 2014-15, and as at 31 December for 2015-16. As at 31 December 2015, over 5,183 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water has now been delivered to rivers, wetlands and floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin.
For detailed information on water delivered in each catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin, see the Water use page for each individual Catchment.