Experts have detailed ways to ensure a sustainable future for the Murray-Darling Basin.

Leading Australian water experts have called for immediate action in a series of essays released by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering (ATSE).

The Murray-Darling Basin has experienced a temperature increase of one degree since 1910, with projections suggesting a decrease in average runoff in the upcoming decades. 

These changes underscore the urgency of addressing climate threats to ensure the continued viability of the basin’s ecosystems and regional industries.

The ATSE advocates for significant investment in technologies to monitor climate impacts and stresses the importance of involving rural and regional communities in governance processes. 

The essay series suggests the re-establishment of an independent body to provide objective policy advice on national water management, which is crucial for informed, data-driven decision-making across Federal, State, and Territory governments.

“The Murray-Darling Basin covers one-seventh of Australia’s landscape and is pivotal for a substantial portion of the country’s GDP. Immediate and comprehensive action is essential to protect this vital resource from the advancing threats of climate change,” says Katherine Woodthorpe, president of ATSE.

The recommended strategies include a thorough review of institutional arrangements governing property rights and the integration of consistent management approaches across different governmental levels. 

Special attention is required to address the cultural water rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, ensuring that governance structures support the needs and rights of all community members.

The ATSE series calls for a long-term vision that not only addresses the current challenges but also sets a resilient and sustainable management plan for the Murray-Darling Basin over the next 50 years. 

For more information, the full set of essays is accessible here.