Topics > River Murray

Basin Plan

What is the Basin Plan?

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is an historic, bipartisan agreement about how the water that flows down the nation's longest river system is managed to ensure its long-term health.

The Basin Plan was adopted in November 2012, after the Commonwealth reached an accord with each of the Basin states: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Essentially, the Basin Plan restricts the amount of water that can be taken from the Basin each year, to leave enough for the rivers, lakes and wetlands and the plants and animals that depend on them.

The Basin Plan is being implemented in a partnership between the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, the Australian Government, and the governments of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Implementing the Basin Plan

The South Australian Government is committed to implementing the Basin Plan in full so that its many benefits can be achieved. This includes delivering the final 450 gigalitres (GL) of water for the environment.

Read more about why the 450 GL is so important for South Australia:

South Australia’s first five –yearly evaluation of Basin Plan environmental outcomes, demonstrates that the water recovered under the Basin Plan is working and we are seeing positive outcomes for areas where we have been able to deliver water for the environment. Find out more.

On 22 August 2023 the Federal, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory governments came to an agreement to support amendments to the Water Act 2007(Cth) and the Basin Plan 2012, to deliver the Basin Plan in full, including legislating for voluntary buybacks to deliver the 450 GL of water for the environment.

South Australia’s Basin Plan Implementation Progress

South Australia has made significant progress towards full implementation of the Basin Plan including:

  • setting of new Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDL) for surface water and groundwater which came into effect from 1 July 2019
  • all three water resource plans submitted on time and accredited by the Commonwealth Minister
  • all SDL adjustment projects for which South Australia has lead responsibility are either complete or on schedule for completion by the June 2024 deadline
  • efficiency measures projects that contribute towards completion of the recovery of the final 450 GL of water for the environment
  • meeting our `bridging the gap’ water recovery target of 183.8 GL for the environment
  • continuing to work with a range of partners and water holders to coordinate the effective delivery of water to our priority assets to achieve our short and long-term environmental outcomes in South Australia.

On 23 August 2022, Mr Richard Beasley SC commenced his role as Commissioner for the River Murray.

On 15 September 2023 the South Australian Government published its responseto the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission Report.

Further Information