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10.Overview of the Constraints Management Strategy - Constraints Management Strategy

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10.Overview of the Constraints Management Strategy

The Strategy proposes a timetable for phased assessment and decision making over the next 10 years. It identifies seven key focus areas for further analysis and nine broad areas of operational and management practice for further consideration.

It contains the following components:

overarching principles that guide the implementation of the Strategy

the roles and responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders

a framework and timetable for the implementation of the Strategy encompassing three broad phases: 1) pre-feasibility (to the end of 2014); 2) feasibility (to June 2016); and 3) implementation (until 2024)

key steps in phase 1 (pre-feasibility) outlining the issues to be considered and methods to be used in completing the pre-feasibility analysis

the action plan or next steps for each of the seven identified key focus areas and for each operational and management area.

Figure Mundarlo Bridge on the Murrumbidgee

11.Overarching principles

A number of key principles have been central to thinking through how constraints should be managed in the Basin. They have been important in the discussions that have already occurred between the MDBA, governments and communities and should also guide the roll out of the Strategy. They have been revised in light of the feedback we received through the consultation process. The principles are:

  • The Strategy aims to maximise environmental outcomes that can be obtained from managing all water available for environmental use (and managing water for other purposes on route).

  • Affected communities, including land holders and managers, water entitlement holders, Traditional Owners, management agencies and local government need to be involved from the beginning to identify potential impacts and solutions. 

  • In pursuing environmental outcomes through the relaxation or removal of constraints, solutions need to:

recognise and respect the property rights of landholders and water entitlements holders

not create any new risks to the reliability of entitlements

be identified in consultation with affected parties to determine if impacts can be appropriately addressed and mitigated to enable changes to proceed 

identify and aim to achieve net positive impacts wherever possible

be worked through in a fair and transparent/equitable way

work within the boundaries defined by the Water Act, the Basin Plan and relevant state water access and planning systems.

  • All water holders, whether existing consumptive users or environmental water holders, should be able to use their water efficiently to meet the needs of that use, while not adversely affecting other entitlements.

  • Potential changes would be worked through with relevant Basin governments and relevant stakeholders to resolve issues before changes to on-ground arrangements are made. 

  • Decisions to proceed with removing constraints will be made by Basin governments with investment being decided by the Commonwealth on the collective advice of governments. Investment should:

be prioritised on addressing the constraints that will provide the best Basin-wide environmental outcomes, taking into account economic and social considerations

focus on lasting solutions to provide certainty and protection to stakeholders over time

be focussed on avoiding and addressing any impacts to third parties.

12.Roles and responsibilities

This Strategy proposes a collaborative approach to the development and prioritisation of constraints projects, and includes a strong focus on community involvement throughout the process.

Basin governments:

will make decisions to proceed with removing constraints under this Strategy. The Commonwealth Government has allocated $200 million to relax or remove priority constraints in the context of the SDL adjustment mechanism. The Intergovernmental Agreement on Implementing Water Reform in the Murray-Darling Basin (2013) includes a protocol for the consideration of adjustment measures, including constraints, in 2016.

Basin state governments will, for the most part, develop specific constraints projects and be involved in the consideration of projects proposed by other jurisdictions.

A package of projects will be considered by Basin governments via the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council, advised by the Basin Officials Committee, with the final investment decision made by the Commonwealth.

States will be responsible for implementation of projects within their respective jurisdictions, including consultation and engagement consistent with the overarching principles of the Strategy. Unrelated to the Strategy, Basin states may also address constraints, or review their river management practices at any time including when water sharing plans are negotiated.


: is responsible for the development of the Strategy and must report annually to the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council on progress on the matters covered by the Strategy.

Over the next several years, the MDBA will provide technical advice and analysis, and will provide a Basin-scale perspective when assessing the mix of constraints projects that will best deliver environmental outcomes. The MDBA will work with Basin states to undertake the pre-feasibility assessment, to enable Basin-scale analysis across key focus areas and operational and management constraints.

The MDBA may have a role in the design and implementation of particular projects, especially where they involve more than one jurisdiction or a change to River Murray operations.


will be involved throughout the development and implementation of the Strategy. In the key focus areas local landholders, Traditional Owners, Catchment Management Authorities, local governments and industries will participate in the detailed scoping of the potential impacts from changes to flow patterns and flow heights. Water users will also be involved in considering changes to river management practices captured in their local water resource plans.

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