Bridging the Gap under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Today the Government is beginning the process to buy water to Bridge the Gap under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. These water purchases are voluntary.

This water purchase is only for the remaining 49GL of the Bridging the Gap target.

‘Bridging the Gap’ is the largest pool of water to be recovered under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan – a total of 2,075GL. Around 49GL remains to be recovered.

Today’s announcement marks an important step forward in delivering upon the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to complete the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

49.2 gigalitres (GL)[1] , comprised of 46 GL of surface water and 3.2 GL of groundwater, will be recovered across 7 targeted catchments in the Basin. All these catchments have remaining water to be recovered to achieve the Basin Plan’s Sustainable Diversion Limits.

The targeted catchments for purchase are:


  • Condamine–Balonne catchment: 14.0 GL of surface water and 3.2 GL of groundwater

New South Wales

  • NSW Murray catchment: 10.0 GL of surface water
  • Namoi catchment: 9.5 GL of surface water
  • NSW Border Rivers catchment: 5.1 GL of surface water
  • Barwon–Darling catchment: 1.6 GL of surface water
  • Lachlan catchment: 0.9 GL of surface water.

The Australian Government will also continue to work with the Australian Capital Territory Government to identify, plan and deliver cost-effective efficiency projects to bridge the remaining gap of 4.9 GL of surface water in this catchment.

The Strategic Water Purchasing Framework released today outlines the principles that will guide how the water will be purchased.

The Government will strategically purchase water through an open, competitive, transparent tender.

An open tender will begin on March 23 through the AusTender website.

Water licence holders who are interested in selling their water entitlements to the Australian Government are encouraged to consult with their legal and financial advisors to start gathering relevant information to support a tender application. Only offers from the targeted catchments can be considered.

When the tender is released, detailed guidance, specifications and supporting material will be released to assist water licences holders to participate.

The Australian Government remains interested in receiving feasible, non-purchase-based projects that can be delivered in collaboration with the community and state governments by 30 June 2024.

To read the framework and find out more about water purchasing in the basin, visit:

[1] 49.2GL is the estimated figure. The final figure will not be known until all NSW Water Resource Plans are accredited.