The Murray–Darling Basin Plan (the Basin Plan) was signed into law by the Australian Parliament in November 2012.
As part of Basin Plan implementation, the Australian Government prepared an Intergovernmental Agreement and a National Partnership Agreement, which outlines jurisdictions' commitments and responsibilities. These were signed by the Prime Minister and the NSW Premier on 27 February 2014.
There are a range of new planning instruments from the Basin Plan that will affect water for the environment. These include the following valley-based plans:
- long term water plans
- annual environmental watering priorities
- water quality and salinity management
- water resource plans, to replace existing water sharing plans
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is responsible for the development of the long term water plans (pertaining to water for the environment) and annual environmental watering priorities.
Long term water plans will provide long-term objectives and strategies for managing water in the 9 NSW Murray–Darling Basin catchments. These objectives will also contribute to Basin-wide environmental outcomes direct annual water planning.
Long term water plans will also be considered in the development of new water resource plans.
The program for development of long term water plans in New South Wales is co-ordinated with the Water Resource Planning Program. It involves the initiation of 3 plans each year for 3 years. Each plan is expected to take 2 years to complete consistent with the related water sharing plan.
Work is underway to collate information, identify assets, prioritise actions and develop plans to sustain and improve the condition of plants, animals and system functions.
The Murray–Darling Basin Plan requires each state in the Murray–Darling Basin to prepare annual environmental watering priorities that outline how water for the environment may be used in the coming year, which depends on ecological and climatic factors and water availability.
Priority watering statements for 2020–21, derived from our annual environmental watering plans, are now available.