MDBA probes irrigator water use across the Basin

Murray Darling water use compliance investigation kicks off

National Issues
A review of irrigator compliance across the Murray Darling Basin is underway.

A review of irrigator compliance across the Murray Darling Basin is underway.


Compliance investigation


THE Murray Darling Basin Authority’s quick-fire review of water user’s compliance could be coming soon to a town near you.

The MDBA wants stakeholders to provide feedback and to report issues impacting compliance. The stakes are high for irrigators, who may be facing more red tape on the back of the review’s recommendations.

The review is set to report to the Commonwealth by December on the legal, policy and practical factors which impact compliance in water management across the Basin.

It will investigate compliance issues at a range of specific sites across the Basin, which will be determined soon.

The review was prompted by allegations aired on Four Corners of individual water theft and poor state compliance management in NSW.

PM Malcolm Turnbull instructed the MDBA to conduct the review in an effort to head-off calls from South Australian Nick Xenophon and others for a more comprehensive judicial inquiry , or even Royal Commission. NSW also has its own review into corruption and misconduct underway.

The MDBA’s review will the agency’s first investigation of compliance since the Basin Plan was enacted in 2012.

Under the plan states retained responsibility for ensuring compliance with their own legislation, including water theft.The Commonwealth’s is responsible for auditing compliance on a broader scale, at a valley-by-level scale.

Prior to the Basin Plan the Commonwealth invested in boosting compliance monitoring among the states, which largely rely on irrigators self-reporting from their meters.

But since then the $13 billion behemoth Basin Plan has directed focus towards environmental objectives. The lack of compliance policy development spurred speculation the pendulum may swing toward a push for automated telemetering.

MDBA chairman Neil Andrews said compliance was fundamental to management of the Basin’s water resources.

“It’s vital that all the governments and individuals involved in water management across the Basin work together to get the settings right. Everyone needs to have trust in the system,” Mr Andrews said.

The review will be lead by MDBA member George Warne, who will be assisted by a panel of experts.

Murray Darling stakeholders are encouraged to complete a survey on compliance in their area. Visit:

Contact the MDBA compliance taskforce, or report a compliance issue: Email or phone 1800 230 067 


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