National News

Image supplied: Dumeresq River in New South Wales is part of the Border Rivers in the Commonwealth Environmental Water Management Plan for 2020-21 (Photo: CEWO)

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has released its Water Management Plan for 2020‑21

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office has released its Water Management Plan for 2020‑21.

The Plan scopes how water for the environment can help keep rivers and wetlands across the Murray-Darling Basin healthy – under conditions ranging from wet to dry.

Over the next 12 months water for the environment will support native fish and bird breeding and help us look after internationally important wetlands. The people who live, work and play in the Basin will also continue to enjoy the benefits that come from a healthy river system.

“Central to our planning is matching supply with demand – we compare how much water we are likely to have with what the environment needs.  What we aim to achieve depends on how much water is allocated to us. Every year is different,” Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder Jody Swirepik said.

“With the recent good rains in many catchments we, like irrigators, are hoping for better allocations in the coming season,” Ms Swirepik said.

The Plan is the result of months of working with water managers, scientists, First Nations peoples and local communities to prioritise critical sites across the Basin and carefully plan where water for the environment will be delivered in the year ahead.

“Local knowledge is key to getting the best possible results for the environment and communities,” Ms Swirepik said.

“We work closely with many people and organisations to plan our water use. I am delighted this year’s Plan includes formal input for the first time from the Murray

Lower Darling River Indigenous Nations and the Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations on First Nations’ environmental objectives.” Ms Swirepik said.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Management Plan for 2020-21 and summary brochure are available at


Fast facts

  • The CEWO releases its Plan for delivering water for the environment each year. The Plan provides information for each river valley in the northern and southern Murray-Darling Basin.
  • The Plan shows how the CEWO aims to meet the annual watering priorities set out by the MDBA to achieve the Basin Plan’s long-term goals for native vegetation, waterbirds, native fish, and river flows and connectivity.
  • In 2020-21, without further major rainfall, environmental flows in the northern Basin will be limited to topping up native fish refuges and small flows to internationally important wetlands such as the Macquarie Marshes, Gwydir Wetlands and Narran Lakes. In the southern Basin, careful early-season use and increased water availability should allow delivery of larger late spring flows across northern Victorian tributaries, the River Murray, the Baaka/Lower Darling and creeks and rivers of the Edward/ Kolety-Wakool.
Image supplied: Water for the environment is delivered when native animals need it to breed, feed and survive – like these native catfish in the lower Gwydir River (photo: Eco Logical Australia)