What Happened to Water Quality Management in the MDB?

The Queensland Government continues to reinforce land and water management of cane and other farms and large cattle grazing operations to reduce nutrients leaving catchments and impacting the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Best management practices for cane farms (Sugarcane Water Quality Risk Framework 2017-2022, Qld Government) state that 90% of tail water is retained on farm and reused to prevent nutrients leaving the property to water courses.

Murray Darling basin catchments maps 880WMDBA

Excess nutrients in the Murray Darling Basin river causes toxic blue green algal outbreaks, eutrophication and fish kills. While increasing water flows to the river are important, so too is a reduction in nutrient load.

The Qld Government is struggling to meet its commitments to the MDB water flows (water across the border to NSW) and needs to increase the return of water to the river systems.
In a direct and hypocritical contrast to its management of the Great Barrier Reef, the Qld Government has introduced a moratorium which bans any new, or changes to, tail-water systems that capture of contaminated agricultural runoff and its nutrient.

Tail waters must be let go so that there is no reduction in water going into the Murray Darling the new Water Plan to take effect. Thus “take” is reduced by conversion of notified works to a water license.