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2019 Winter - A thirst for certainty; irrigation in the Murray-Darling Basin

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FPJ1602C - Grafton, RQ & Williams, J (2019), Thirst for certainty: the urgent need for a water audit of the Murray-Darling Basin

FPJ1602C - Grafton, RQ  & Williams, J (2019), Thirst for certainty: the urgent need for a water audit of the Murray-Darling Basin, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 16, no. 2, Winter 2019, pp. 14-22, Surry Hills, Australia.

Water management in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) has generated much public controversy and also widespread distrust in state and federal authorities. A general failure to apply transparent processes from policy development to monitoring, water accounting and compliance has led to a high level of uncertainty with respect to water security across the diversity of community interests within the Basin. There is large uncertainty over what the current and future level of water diversions within the MDB are, and especially in the Northern Basin. Water planners and water users need to know where, how and when water is diverted and returned to aquifers and streams, and how this might be altered with climate change. 
A water audit is required to make the best use of the water accounts being developed by BOM and state agencies. Without transparent and audited water accounts that include measures or reliable estimates of recoverable return flows, floodplain water harvesting and climate change, large unmitigated risks will remain for all water users. These risks jeopardise the successful implementation of the current Basin Plan, future levels of Sustainable Diversion Limits, and also the reliability of water entitlements within the MDB. 



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