Following meetings in Adelaide over the weekend, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council have agreed to push the starting date to 2019 for all communities in the Murray Darling Basin to adjust to diversion limits.


The agreement will push the agreed date back from the original 2014 timetable and will mean that extraction amounts will not be finalized for another seven years.


The decision by the ministerial council, which is comprised of ministers from the South Australian and New South Wales state governments, has drawn heavy criticism from the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).


“It’s time for the ministerial council to call for an independent scientific advisory panel, as provided for in section 203 of the Water Act, to investigate exactly what is required to return the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin to health.” said ACF’s Healthy Rivers Campaigner Dr Arlene Harriss-Buchan.


“The states have said that they would do this since 1994 and they've made not an awful lot of progress," Dr Harriss-Buchan said.


The revision comes as the Murray Darling Basin Authority has significantly downgraded its estimates for the minimum level of environmental flow from an original 3000 – 4000 gigalitres to 2800 gigalitres, based on new modeling techniques.