The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is proposing a major amendment to the Murray Darling Basin Plan based on its Northern Basin Review,1 conducted over four years. The amendment would reduce the water recovery targets for the Northern Basin from 390 GL to 320 GL per year, a reduction of 70 GL. This amendment is subject to a disallowance motion in the Senate, to be voted on by 14 February 2018.
A second amendment to reduce the water recovery target in the Southern Basin by 605 GL has also been tabled in parliament.2 This motion is also subject to a disallowance, to be decided by April 2018 at the latest.
The amendment also includes a provision for states to request a further reallocation between valleys of the legal limit of extractions in a valley the Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs) under s6.05.
This report highlights that whilst MDBA claims to base its recommendations on best available science, the proposed amendments allow MDBA and States change the SDLs in a valley without considering the science. All community members, including irrigators, should be wary about the proposed amendments to the Basin Plan, which have much greater implications than changing the water recovery targets in the Northern Basin.