Water Flows in the Murray-Darling Basin: Observed versus expected

The Wentworth Group conducted a study to evaluate whether environmental water recovery has led to observable increases in river flows at two key sites along the Murray-Darling Basin. This assessment found that despite 2,016 GL of water being recovered for the environment (63% of that envisaged under the Basin Plan) at a cost of $8.5 billion, and during the relatively wet period from 2010-2018:

  1. Environmental flow targets set by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which are required to be met to produce environmental improvements, have failed to be achieved.
  2. In general, excluding natural flood events, annual average flows can be up to 40% to 60% smaller than expected under the Basin Plan.
  3. In general, observed flows are similar to, or less than, the baseline (pre-Basin Plan) model results, revealing that instead of an increase there has actually been no improvement or even a decline in water flows since the implementation of the Basin Plan.
Summary report

Technical report


Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists