The head of Canberra's water authority has declared the draft guide for the Murray-Darling Basin "dead".


ACTEW managing director Mark Sullivan made the statement during a budget estimates hearing, saying the the document's demise is a good thing for Canberra because it forecast significant water cuts for the ACT.


"The guide was going to impose on the ACT a very difficult water scenario, I think beyond reasonable further conservation of water targets," he said.


"It would have meant probably an alternative strategy of accessing the water required to meet the minimum needs of the ACT."


Mr Sullivan says ACTEW is now waiting for the release of the draft plan.


"The basin guide as a living document seems to be as close to dead as you could find a document," he said.


"So we wait with expectation for the next phase which will be the draft plan. For the ACT that's a very positive thing, that the guide appears to have slipped away."