Offers flow as Government purchases water in the Murray-Darling Basin 

Following a successful tender process, the Albanese Labor Government has now recovered an additional 26.25 GL of water towards the Murray-Darling Basin Plan – equivalent to 10,500 Olympic-size swimming pools returned to the river system every year.

This clearly shows that there is appetite from local communities to participate in voluntary water purchase, especially in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, where the bulk of remaining water recovery is needed. In fact, in some areas more than double the offers were received than what was required.

Through this tender to Bridge the Gap to the Sustainable Diversion Limits, we’ve successfully bridged the gap in three New South Wales catchments – the Lachlan, Namoi and NSW Murray.

While more work is required in the remaining catchments, we are well on our way to deliver these important targets of the Plan after a decade of sabotage by the Liberals and Nationals.  

This is an important step in our commitment to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full.

While contractual processes are still underway, we are forecasting an estimated total cost of $205 million.

We will continue to work with Queensland and NSW on water recovery options to secure the remaining 18.05 GL towards the Bridging the Gap target. I expect to announce more on arrangements with the ACT Government to Bridge the Gap soon.

The Albanese Government wants to make sure we have a healthy and sustainable river system for the communities, industry, First Nations groups and environment that rely on it.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek:

“Unlike the Liberals and Nationals, we are determined to deliver the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in full.   

“I’ve been clear that water purchasing is just one tool in the box to recover water, and this tender has shown it can be effective. 

“Through these willing sellers we will return water that is desperately needed to restore our rivers and support the plants, animals and communities that rely on it.”

Background information:

  • This purchase program was solely focused on bridging the remaining 44.3 GL/y Sustainable Diversion Limit target within the 6 catchments in QLD and NSW that have remaining Bridging the Gap targets. 
  • This purchase program did not seek to purchase water to the 450 GL of additional environmental water.  
  • To ensure transparency, contracts are being progressively published by the government on AusTender after being signed and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is providing a summary of tender outcomes on its website.
  • Publishing contract details on AusTender is a standard whole of government requirement that all the water rights holders were aware of and consented to when they submitted their tender response. 
  • All offers were carefully reviewed to ensure they represented value for money for the taxpayer and stacked up environmentally.
  • The total cost is the sum of all water rights bought across six different catchments. The amount paid for each individual transaction will vary, depending upon a range of factors including the relative reliability of that water right.  
  • The water saving infrastructure program is now open: