The Murray Darling Basin Authority has raised concerns there’s a high risk that the initial June 2019 efficiency measures water recovery target will not be met.
The warning comes ahead of Friday’s meeting of Water Ministers, in Melbourne.
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Chief executive Phillip Glyde said the coming year would be critical for the Plan, with a number of key milestones needing an ongoing commitment from partner governments, to ensure successful implementation.
"2018 has seen a number of significant achievements—from major improvements in compliance to the passing of important amendments to the Plan which will improve outcomes for the environment, and for Basin communities and industries,” Mr Glyde said.
"Looking ahead to 2019, it will be essential for us all to maintain focus and momentum as we approach some of the most crucial milestones for Basin Plan implementation.”
He said the MDBA had looked at progress against six key elements of the Plan. While some were on track, others involved significant challenges.
"In particular, while there have been significant recent efforts from state governments and additional resourcing by the MDBA, many Water Resource Plans are at risk of delay,” Mr Glyde said.
“ The majority of gap-bridging water recovery required under the Plan has been achieved, but the MDBA also considers there is a high risk that the initial June 2019 efficiency measures water recovery target will not be met.
"However, it is positive to see that gap-bridging water recovery is firmly on track, and there has been significant progress on work to strengthen compliance, and in the effective planning and delivery of water for the environment.”
Mr Glyde said much good progress had been made, but the work was not over yet.
“We need to keep momentum and deliver the Plan in full, including through the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism and Northern Basin initiatives,” Mr Glyde said.
“ While these measures are in their infancy, progress on some of them has been slower than hoped, and the MDBA will continue to monitor them closely and report regularly.
"The Basin Plan’s success depends on continued dedication and cooperation from all parties to the Plan.”
Mr Glyde said it was only by working together to implement the plan, as intended, that Australia could realise its full benefits, a healthy, working, sustainable river system now and for future generations.
"The MDBA is confident that Basin governments will continue to work together constructively and transparently, and place a high priority on implementing the Basin Plan in full—particularly those areas of risk highlighted in this report card,” Mr Glyde said.