The Murray–Darling Basin Authority has delivered on another recommendation of a Basin-wide review of compliance, by increasing transparency and accountability in the development and accreditation of Water Resource Plans through regular progress reports.
MDBA Chief Executive, Phillip Glyde, said the quarterly reports—the first of which was published on the MDBA's website today—would be an important mechanism in ensuring the MDBA and Basin states stayed on track to develop and accredit all Water Resource Plans by the 30 June 2019 deadline.
"Water Resource Plans set out the rules for ensuring each area of the Basin is managed in accordance with the Basin Plan. As we move towards new limits on water take becoming legally binding on 1 July 2019, Water Resource Plans will become the cornerstone of compliance across the Basin," Mr Glyde said.
"During our Basin-wide review of compliance and Basin Plan Evaluation, we identified progress on the development and accreditation of Water Resource Plans as a potential risk to effective implementation of the Basin Plan.
"That is why we are delivering on the recommendations of the compliance review to increase transparency and accountability in the Water Resource Plan process, by publishing regular reports on progress in the development of the plans, including any areas of concern.
"We will also be increasing our resourcing for assessing Water Resource Plans, and continuing to work with Basin states to find ways to streamline the accreditation process.
"I am pleased that all parties have redoubled their efforts to ensure Water Resource Plans are in place by the June 2019 deadline, and expect to see further positive progress in coming months.
"The MDBA will assess each Water Resource Plan to ensure they provide the clear, strong, long-term framework needed for ensuring compliance with the Basin Plan, by protecting water acquired for the environment, and giving effect to the new limits on take both at an individual and local scale, and across the Basin as a whole.
"Greater transparency and accountability on development of Water Resource Plans is just one of the decisive actions we are taking following the review of compliance completed by the MDBA and an independent panel last year.
"We have also established an Office of Compliance, strengthened processes and governance arrangements and increased transparency for managing compliance matters. We are in the process of further building our compliance and enforcement resourcing, and will soon announce the terms of reference and membership of a new Independent Assurance Committee, which will hold the MDBA to account for its responsibilities under the Basin Plan.
"We are taking action to be more transparent, assertive and consistent in how we handle allegations of non-compliance. An online register to report on the handling and progress of compliance matters reported to us is published on our website, and has just been updated.
"The latest statements of assurance—in which the MDBA and Basin states affirm their compliance against obligations under the Basin Plan—are also now available on our website.
"For the Basin Plan to work, all parties must be able to have confidence that the Plan is being complied with, and is being enforced fairly and consistently across the entire Basin.
"We will continue to work to ensure that all Australians can have faith in the Basin Plan, and that the future of our nation's most important river system and the communities that depend upon it is secure."
Water Resource Plans are developed by Basin states for assessment by the MDBA against Basin Plan requirements. The MDBA then makes a recommendation to the Commonwealth Water Minister for their accreditation.
The MDBA's report on Water Resource Plan progress is available to the public. CLICK HERE to read.