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Basin-wide environmental watering strategy 

The Basin-wide environmental watering strategy was originally published by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in 2014, and the most recent edition was published in November 2019, revised February 2020. The strategy guides environmental water holders and Basin governments in planning the management of water for the environment over the long-term to meet environmental objectives.  

The strategy is one Basin-scale element in the planning and management of the Basin’s water resources to achieve the Basin Plan’s environmental objectives. Other important elements for all Basin states include long-term environmental watering plans, water resource plans, and annual environmental watering priorities for which South Australian documents are provided below. The long-term environmental watering plans provide detail on environmental objectives and targets at a regional scale, as well as watering requirements for a range of environmental assets and functions. Water resource plans provide for environmental watering to occur consistently with the MDBA Environmental Watering Strategy and the Environmental Watering Plan. Annual watering priorities provide shorter-term guidance on the actions that should be taken to achieve the longer-term objectives.

Importantly, the strategy provides for environmental outcomes along the River Murray and for the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.

Basin annual water for the environment priorities 

The Basin annual water for the environment priorities guide the planning of water for the environment across the Basin each year and build on local, regional and state priorities. 

They aim to: 

  • achieve the most effective use of water for the environment
  • promote better environmental outcomes across the Basin
  • coordinate watering between environmental water holders and water managers. 

As part of the development of priorities, the MDBA publishes an annual outlook for water for the environment. The outlook includes a snapshot of recent, past and future forecast climate for the Basin, surface water availability and achievements over the preceding year. 

Long-term watering plans

Long-term watering plans provide long-term objectives and strategies for managing water for the environment and inform decisions around the prioritisation and delivery of water recovered under the Basin Plan. 

The Long-term Environmental Watering Plan for the South Australian River Murray water resource plan area was first completed in November 2015 and the Long-term Environmental Watering Plans for the Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges and Murray Region water resource plan areas were completed in 2017. All three documents underwent review, update and further development in 2020.

South Australia is required to develop long-term watering plans (LTWP) for three water resource plan (WRP) areas: 

View a map of the water resource plan areas.  

Annual environmental watering plans and priorities

The Basin Plan requires Basin states to identify the annual environmental watering priorities for each year and submit these to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) by 31 May.

South Australia is required to submit annual environmental water priorities for the three water resource plan areas of the: 

  • South Australian River Murray
  • Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges (which includes the Marne Saunders Prescribed water resources area)
  • South Australian Murray region (which covers groundwater and surface water in the remainder of the SA Murray-Darling Basin including the Coorong and an extensive area north of the River Murray)

The links to available annual environmental watering priorities for the three water resource plan areas can be accessed below.

In addition, the South Australian River Murray water resource plan area also has annual environmental watering plans developed to further support the agreed South Australian program for water for the environment delivery along the River Murray in South Australia (including the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth).

The South Australian River Murray annual plans are subject to extensive consultation and guide where environmental watering should occur within the water year, taking into account the climate outlook and environmental conditions.

In 2021-22, for the first time, the annual environmental water priorities for the SA River Murray have been incorporated into the annual environmental watering plan.

The Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges and Murray Region water resource plan areas continue to be guided by the LTWPs and environmental priorities, which will be published biannually from 2021 onwards.

View a map of the water resource plan areas

South Australian River Murray annual plans and priorities

Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges annual/biannual priorities

South Australian Murray Region annual/biannual priorities

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