A renewed focus and cooperation between State and Federal Governments is sorely needed if real reform of the management of the Murray-Darling Basin is to be achieved, a new report by the National Water Commission (NWC) has found.

The report, tabled in Parliament earlier this week, alerts governments to the priority areas the Commission will examine in its first full audit report due in 2015.  

NWC Chairman, Karlene Maywald, said that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan represents a ‘step-change’ in the way the country governs its most important river system.

“It is now up to basin governments to take action to implement the plan and honour the spirit of their 2008 intergovernmental Agreement on Murray–Darling Basin Reform,” Ms Maywald said.

“This calls for strong leadership by governments and communities, willingness to work together and sustained commitment of resources.

“Significant investments by the Australian and state governments have already established a substantial volume of recovered and held water that is available for environmental use.”

Ms Maywald warned against complacency, urging governments on all levels to map a clear implementation pathway, showing how they will deliver on the plan’s key requirements.

“Until this is in place, Commissioners consider there is a real risk to realising the benefits of all the efforts by governments and the community, and the many billions of dollars invested to date,” Ms Maywald said.

“Tangible evidence of progress will be vital in building trust in the plan’s ability to secure good outcomes for the basin and its communities.”

Through its audit role, the Commission will provide independent oversight on the effectiveness of the implementation of the Basin Plan and associated water resource plans.