Joint media release: $35 million to improve Murray–Darling Basin water information

14 December 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, The Hon Keith Pitt MP
NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing, The Hon Melinda Pavey MP
Queensland Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing and Minister for Water, The Hon Glenn Butcher MP


The Australian Government is collaborating with the NSW and Queensland state governments, and key agencies, on four projects to improve how the Northern Murray-Darling Basin’s water is measured and monitored and give communities access to more water information.  

Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the Murray–Darling Basin Enhanced Water Monitoring and Information (EWMI) projects demonstrate action on the Australian Government’s commitment to improve the transparency, consistency and accessibility of water information in the Basin.

“In order to make sure every drop counts and give communities confidence that water users are doing the right thing, we must continue to invest in new technologies and approaches – it’s what the public expects and it’s what the Australian Government is delivering,” Minister Pitt said. 

“State and federal governments are working together on these projects – pooling and sharing expertise and knowledge, working across state borders, and making more water information publicly available.”

The projects are being administered by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and include: 

  • building a new water information website run by the Bureau of Meteorology (lead by the Bureau and MDBA)
  • rolling out an expanded network of hydrometric and remote sensing technologies to improve cross border measurement and monitoring of water diversions and in-stream flows across the Northern Basin (lead by NSW and QLD)
  • implementing remote-sensing and spatial  tools to improve live measurement and compliance of water use across the northern Basin (led by NSW and Queensland)
  • developing an online accounting and reporting site for water licence holders and compliance officers in NSW and Queensland (lead by NSW and QLD)

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) is playing an integral role in building a new water information website that will provide information users want, in the way they want it. There are currently many sources of water information, but they’re not all easy to find, easy to understand or in the one place.

This project is designed to improve transparency for water users by providing information to the community on water management, water use and water availability. 

Initially the website will build on the Bureau's Water Reporting Summaries for Murray-Darling Basin catchments to include richer, integrated and timelier information.

It will continue to be developed and tested with Basin communities, with new features added as they are made possible by the outcomes of the other EWMI projects.

New South Wales Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said partnering on the projects is part of the government’s efforts to develop an advanced, transparent and fair water management system for all of NSW.

“NSW has played a key role in developing remote sensing using satellite technology and aerial imagery to identify, monitor and report on water related activities across NSW,” Minister Pavey said.

“Water related activities monitored with these techniques include irrigated cropping, construction or modification of water storages, monitoring of water off-take channels and on-farm storages, as well as monitoring and tracking flood and environmental flow releases through major streams and rivers. We are committed to applying these in the northern basin and collaborating on existing and new initiatives.”

The Queensland Government’s Minister for Water Glenn Butcher said Queensland welcomes the Australian Government’s funding of projects that will enhance the quality of information available to decision makers on the Murray-Darling Basin.

“More quality and transparent information on Murray-Darling Basin water builds community confidence that water in the region is being used fairly and sustainably to support jobs and development,” Minister Butcher said.

“These four projects will complement Queensland’s current Rural Water Futures program which is helping us make more informed decisions for the benefit of farmers, other water users and the environment.” 

The projects are funded through a total of $35 million by the Australian Government in response to the Water Compliance Review and agreed actions under the Murray–Darling Basin Compliance Compact. The projects were selected through a competitive grant scheme under the Hydrometric Networks and Remote Sensing Program.

Agencies involved in managing and delivering projects include:

  • NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • QLD Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • GeoScience Australia
  • Murray–Darling Basin Authority

For more information visit Metering and measuring in the Basin | Murray-Darling Basin Authority (mdba.gov.au)