The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) is required to use its holdings to protect or restore environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin, and other areas outside the Basin where the Commonwealth holds water, so as to give effect to relevant international agreements.
Water that is held in the Murray-Darling Basin is required to be managed in accordance with the environmental watering plan, part of the Basin Plan developed by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in consultation with state governments and stakeholders.
Yanga National Park (Lowbidgee Floodplain) – following environmental watering (June 2010)
Photo: P. Childs (DECCW)
Decisions on the use of Commonwealth environmental water are informed by advice from the Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel and after consultation with a range of groups including delivery partners such as Basin State governments, Catchment Management Authorities, and environmental water managers and river operators in catchments across the Basin.
Decisions on water use include a number of key steps:
- Developing options for the use of water: Potential watering options are identified in cooperation with State agencies, other environmental water managers, local groups (such as catchment management authorities, natural resource management boards and environmental water advisory groups) and landholders. Individuals and groups within the Murray-Darling Basin community are encouraged to submit suggestions for the use of Commonwealth environmental water through our expression of interest process.
- Assessing potential actions: Potential watering actions are assessed against published criteria:
- the ecological significance of the asset to be watered
- the expected ecological outcomes from the proposed watering action
- the potential risks of the proposed watering action at the site and at connected locations
- the long-term sustainability of the asset, including appropriate management arrangements, and
- the cost effectiveness and operational feasibility of undertaking the watering.
- Seeking local and expert advice: In making decisions on Commonwealth environmental water use, local expertise and advice from Environmental Water Scientific Advisory Panel and river operators is obtained, including on the environmental need, current conditions and potential delivery arrangements.
- Delivery arrangements: As part of decisions on use, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) enters into arrangements with delivery partners (Basin State governments and other environmental water holders, river operators, or catchment management authorities) to deliver the water and monitor the outcomes.
More information about specific Commonwealth environmental watering actions that have occurred so far: