The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has put up its plans for changes to the Basin Plan.

The MDBA has called for submissions about its proposed MDBP amendments, which it says are designed to improve the outcomes for communities, the environment and regional economies.

One of the key recommendations is to reduce the water recovery target in the northern basin by 70 gigalitres (GL).

MDBA chief Phillip Glyde says it strikes a sensible balance between social, economic and environmental interests.

“Reducing the water recovery target from 390 GL to 320 GL in the north will save about 200 jobs in irrigation dependent communities while continuing to deliver about the same level of environmental outcomes,” he said.

“We need to be smart about how we use the 320 GL of water if we're going to improve the health of the northern rivers.

“That's why our recommendation is contingent on the Australian, New South Wales and Queensland governments committing to a range of measures that aren't directly linked to water recovery.

“There is still a water recovery task ahead in the northern basin that will cause some communities a level of economic and social impacts.

“It's important to remember that the Basin Plan was agreed in 2012 with bipartisan support because Australia needed a plan to save the Murray–Darling system because it was under serious and damaging strain.

“Four years on from that historic agreement the northern basin review's social, economic and environmental research and analysis has resulted in a proposal that will be better for communities and regional economies while still improving the health of the basin for future generations.”

Other proposed Basin Plan amendments include:

  • a decrease in three groundwater area water recovery targets
  • some other practical improvements to the Basin Plan

“It is my hope that we can make sensible adjustments to the Basin Plan for the benefit of the environment and also for the people and industries in the basin,” Mr Glyde said.

“I encourage people to get along to community information sessions in their areas or to have their say through a formal submission about all the proposed amendments to the Basin Plan,” he added.

Submissions close on 10 February, 2017. Submissions are considered by the MDBA before a final draft amendment is provided to the Minister, which could take several months.

More details are available here.