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Topics > River Murray > Basin Plan

Why the Murray-Darling Basin is so important


  • 30,000 wetlands including 16 internationally significant wetlands (Ramsar sites).
  • 120 water bird species and 46 native fish species are found in the Basin.
  • Home to 95 threatened species of animals and plants including 35 birds, 16 mammals and 5 snakes.


  • More than 3 million Australians rely on the Murray-Darling Basin rivers for drinking water, including Canberra and Adelaide.
  • Home to more than 40 Aboriginal Nations with deep cultural, social, environmental, spiritual and economic connection to their lands and waters.
  • Healthy water resources provide Basin residents with a sense of place, psychological wellbeing and local identity.


  • The Basin produces $22 billion worth of food and fibre every year.
  • Irrigated agriculture has been maintained at around $7 billion annually even with recovery of water for the environment.
  • Spending on tourism in the Basin is now worth around $7.5 billion per year, with Australians making 17 million visits annually for recreation.
  • Recreational fishing is estimated to be worth around $1 billion each year, generating more than 10,000 jobs.