Overview report to First Ministers
- Murray-Darling Basin dry inflow contingency planning: overview report to First Ministers (PDF - 300 KB)
- Murray-Darling Basin dry inflow contingency planning: map of Southern Basin System (PDF 928 KB)
- Murray-Darling Basin dry inflow contingency planning: frequently asked questions (PDF 35 KB)
- Murray-Darling Basin dry inflow contingency planning: domestic and stock availability in each state (PDF 30 KB)
About the publication
by the Prime Minister and
Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory
Dry inflow contingency planning in the Murray-Darling Basin
First Ministers have received the third Murray-Darling Basin Contingency Planning Report from senior officials and have agreed to the Report's recommendations. The key point in the report is that the water situation has not changed significantly in the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin, the focus area for contingency planning, since the April 2007 Contingency Planning Report. This means that contingency planning should continue.
Final opening allocations for the 2007-08 irrigation season will be announced by State water resource management agencies between mid June and early July 2007. Water availability will be reviewed at least monthly by State and Territory Government authorities.
Governments recognise that there are significant concerns amongst a number of industries, particularly in relation to planning for the year ahead. This is particularly the case for the livestock sector. First Ministers have agreed that information be provided by state water authorities to key irrigation industry bodies and farmers about water availability in streams and channels in the southern Basin system as frequently as possible, so that irrigators can make key decisions on stock retention and other key management decisions.
Rules around local stock water use will be determined by relevant State and Territory Governments. Farmers and communities are encouraged to make contact with their relevant state authority. A brief state by state description on the availability of domestic and stock water, including contact numbers in each state is available on the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources web site at www.environment.gov.au. First Ministers have agreed that States and the Territory and local decision makers should have some flexibility to use their available water to avoid extreme impacts where possible. Guidelines for local authorities to assist in allocating water for special circumstances are outlined in the May 2007 Overview Contingency Planning Report which will be made available on the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Water Resources web site.
State water sharing arrangements above the amount allocated for critical demand, and until normal water sharing arrangements under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement resume, have been agreed by First Ministers. These water sharing arrangements will enable some water to be distributed to each state if the situation in the southern Basin improves through 2007-08. Within the arrangements South Australia gives up some water earlier on to provide water for NSW and Victoria and as improvements continue to occur through the season, Victoria and NSW give up water to South Australia to recognise its early contributions.
Each State and the Territory will make its own decisions about any allocations to entitlement holders. However, First Ministers have agreed that any water that becomes available to entitlement holders should be available for trading both intra and inter state, under normal circumstances, in order to facilitate the early development of a water market and ensure limited water supply is used to its highest value.
All States and the Territory confirm that town-by-town contingency planning frameworks are now in place and are evolving as new issues and situations arise. Public information on affected towns is being made available via State Government web sites.
Community consultation for the disconnection of wetlands is ongoing in each state, including wetlands referred to in the April 2007 Contingency Planning Report. The disconnection of wetlands is the most immediate and effective measure to achieve water savings in 2007-08 because it reduces evaporative losses in the system. Disconnection of wetlands that would be problematic in terms of environmental and cultural heritage impacts has not been included in this measure.
First Ministers also received an update on water availability for the ACT region, which has water secured for 2007-08 (under Stage 4 water restrictions) but with significant uncertainty beyond. Accordingly, contingency planning for the region is well underway. Severe water restrictions, consistent with principles being adopted in the rest of the southern Murray-Darling Basin, are likely to be implemented in the ACT.
The Senior Officials' Group will provide updates on the inflow situation at appropriate times.