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Cap compliance reports

In 1995, the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council introduced the Murray–Darling Basin Cap on Surface Water Diversions (the Cap) to protect and enhance the riverine environment and protect the rights of water users. The Cap introduced long-term limits on how much water could be taken from rivers in 24 designated river valleys.

The Cap also introduced a requirement that Basin state governments had to work out ways to turn the long-term limits into annual Cap targets that take account of changes in things like the weather conditions and water availability in each year. Under the Cap, Basin states must provide data to the MDBA about how much water was actually taken each year compared to the annual Cap targets.

Following the introduction of the Cap, interim arrangements established Cap compliance and reporting, starting with the 1994–95 year. Formal Cap reporting and compliance started with the 1997–98 water year.

From 1997–98 until 2011–12, the MDBA reported annually on Basin state government compliance with the Cap by publishing Water Audit Monitoring Reports. These reports provide a comprehensive analysis of water availability and take by state for each water year.

Reports on Cap implementation prepared by the Independent Audit Group are also available for this period.

With the introduction of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan 2012 (the Basin Plan), the Water Audit Monitoring Reports were replaced by Transitional SDL water accounting reports for the period from 2012–13 to 2018–19.

The Basin Plan introduced a new water accounting and compliance framework based on sustainable diversion limits (SDLs) which came into force from 1 July 2019. The SDL framework applies to 29 surface water and 80 groundwater SDL resource units and will replace the Cap compliance framework.

The Cap continues in parallel with SDL accounting until Schedule E of the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement is amended or repealed. The MDBA is working with Basin state governmentss to cease Cap reporting upon full implementation of sustainable diversion limits.

The MDBA is developing a new series of water take reports, commencing with the 2019–20 year, which will provide further information on Cap compliance, trends in use and use of held environmental water. This report is expected to be available in the second half of 2021.

Downloads

Cap register
Cap register up to 2019-20 water year

The Cap Register is composed of eight tables that show annual Cap adjustments, annual and cumulative Cap balances and Cap compliance. Note that Schedule E of the Murray–Darling Basin Agreement states that for all valleys except Moonie, Nebine, Warrego and Paroo in Queensland and Metro Adelaide in South Australia, compliance with the Cap is assessed against the cumulative Cap balance. For the four Queensland valleys, compliance with the Cap is assessed against an annual Cap target, and for Metro Adelaide, compliance with the Cap is assessed against a five year balance. The format of the Cap Register is based on the approach adopted in Appendices A to H of the former Water Audit Monitoring reports. Further information on the tables can be found in the ‘Quick guide to the Cap register’.

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Annual diversions from the River Murray and its tributaries

The MDBA has published the water diverted from the River Murray and its tributaries. This information is also published in the Transition Period Water Take Reports and Cap Compliance Reports, but here the information is presented at a smaller scale and by specific purpose. The tributaries include the Kiewa, Ovens, Goulburn, Broken, Loddon and Campaspe in Victoria and the Murrumbidgee in NSW. Where data is available, the diversion data is also split by river sections and/or irrigation districts. The specific uses include water taken by private diverters and for urban, stock and domestic and industrial uses. It covers the years from 1997–98 to 2019–20.

Of particular note:

  • The annual diversion data includes interstate and across valley trade. For example, where water is traded from NSW to South Australia, the diversions are reported in South Australia.
  • The annual diversion data excludes losses due to conveyance along the river to the point of offtake, but for irrigation areas, it includes conveyance losses from the point of river offtake to run in supply channels.
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Formulas
Diversion Formula Register for the Murray–Darling Basin

Version 6 - May 2018

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Archived Cap registers
Cap register up to 2018–19 water year
Cap register up to 2017-18 water year
Cap Register up to 2016–17 water year
Cap Register up to 2015–16 water year
Cap register up to 2014-15 water year
Cap register up to 2013-14 water year
Cap register up to 2012-13 water year
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Water audit monitoring reports on Cap implementation
Water audit monitoring report 2011-12
Water audit monitoring report 2010-11
Water audit monitoring report 2009-10
Water audit monitoring report 2008-09
Water audit monitoring report 2007-08
Water audit monitoring report 2006-07
Water audit monitoring report 2005-06
Water audit monitoring report 2004-05
Water audit monitoring report 2003-04

Includes a special audit of the NSW Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Cap Valley.

Water audit monitoring report 2002-03
Water audit monitoring report 2001-02
Water audit monitoring report 2000-01
Water audit monitoring report 1999-2000
Water audit monitoring report 1998-99
Water audit monitoring report 1997-98
Water audit monitoring report 1996-97

Report on the final year of the interim Cap on diversions – Produced in 1998 this report finalises the format of WAM reporting

Water Audit Monitoring report 1995-96

A Water audit monitoring report was not produced for the 1995-96 year of the interim Cap due to time constraints 

Water audit monitoring report 1994-95

Preliminary report on the first year of the interim Cap on diversions – Produced in 1997 this report acts as a proof of concept for WAM reporting

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Independent audits on Cap implementation
Special audit

2014–15 and 2015–16 special audit of the Moonie Cap Valley.

Queensland response to Moonie Special Audit
Review of Cap implementation 2011-12
Review of Cap implementation 2010-11
Review of Cap implementation 2009-10
Review of Cap implementation 2008-09

Includes a special audit of the NSW Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Valleys

Review of Cap implementation 2007-08
Review of Cap implementation 2006-07
Review of Cap implementation 2005-06

Includes a special audit of the Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Valley

Review of Cap implementation 2004-05

Includes a special audit of the Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Valley

Review of Cap implementation 2003-04

Please note: a special audit for NSW Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Valleys is included in the Water Audit Monitoring report 2003-04

Review of Cap implementation 2002-03

Includes a special audit of the NSW Macquarie and Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Valleys

Review of Cap implementation 2001-02

Includes a special audit of the Lachlan and Gwydir Valleys

Review of Cap implementation 2000-01

Please note: Special audit trigger reached for the NSW Lachlan, Namoi and Barwon-Darling/Lower Darling Valleys. Compliance was assessed by IAG against available information.

Review of Cap implementation 1999-2000

Please note: a special audit of the NSW Border Rivers and the Gwydir Valleys can be found under ‘Reviews and audits’ below.

Review of Cap implementation 1998-99

Please note: a special audit of the NSW Barwon-Darling and Lachlan Valleys can be found under ‘Reviews and audits’ below.

Review of Cap implementation 1997-98
Review of Cap implementation 1996-97
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Reviews and audits
Review of the operation of the Cap

Overview reports of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (August 2000)

Review of the operation of the Cap

Overview report of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (August 200) including the 4 companion papers

Review of the operation of the Cap

1998/99 Supplementary audit of the Barwon-Darling and Lachlan Valleys report

Review of the operation of the Cap

1999/2000 supplementary special Cap audit Gwydir Valley NSW Border Rivers report

Companion papers to the overview reports

Companion paper 1 - ecological sustainability of rivers

Companion papers to the overview reports

Companion paper 2 - economic and social impacts

Companion papers to the overview reports

Companion paper 3 - equity

Companion papers to the overview reports

Companion paper 4 - implementation and compliance

IAG reports on review of Queensland water resource plans

Audit report on draft Condamine-Balonne water resource plan - February 2004

IAG reports on review of Queensland water resource plans

Audit of Queensland water resource plan - June 2001

IAG reports on review of Queensland water resource plans

Review of the Cap implementation progress report on the Queensland WAMP and WMP process - March 1999

IAG reports on review of Queensland water resource plans

Review of the Cap implementation - Queensland WAMP implementation - February 1998

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Independent Audit Reports of Cap Models 2002–2014

The MDBA (and its predecessor the Murray–Darling Basin Commission) commissioned a series of independent model audits evaluating the suitability of the hydrological models used to assess water balance and water take compliance in each cap valley under the ‘Cap on Diversions’ (Schedule E of Murray–Darling Basin Agreement).

The cap models are owned and developed by the states responsible for water management in each cap valley. The model for the Murray river valley, which was developed by the MDBA/MDBC and is the model used for the NSW Murray, Victorian Murray and Lower Darling cap valleys. 

The independent audit reports review all NSW cap models for NSW cap valleys – similar independent audit reports for other valleys may be released by MDBA in future. This series of audit reports were developed by an independent auditor for the Murray–Darling Basin Authority between 2002 and 2014; they have been published in 2021 for public information. They are being published in the interests of transparency, but are historic reports and many changes have occurred since this time.

The MDBA assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the contents of these reports. The reports may no longer be up-to-date with current cap models, and may have been superseded by model developments. Please note that:

  • peer review and model assessment (undertaken in these audit reports for cap models) are processes that contribute to the continuous improvement of models over time,
  • currently, a process to progressively transition and update all models to the Source platform is underway, and
  • the NSW government is working to license the floodplain harvesting component of water take, this process will generate new data that will allow shortcomings in cap reporting of floodplain harvesting processes to be addressed.

Cap model reports published by NSW provide additional context to the audit reports and are available here:

Model report archive - Water in New South Wales (nsw.gov.au)

Barwon–Darling Valley independent audit of cap model
Gwydir Valley independent audit of cap model
Lachlan River Valley independent audit of cap model
Lower Darling Valley independent audit of cap model
Macquarie, Castlereagh and Bogan Valley independent audit of cap model
Victorian Murray, NSW Murray and Lower Darling Valleys independent audit of cap model
Murrumbidgee Valley independent audit of cap model
Namoi Valley independent audit of cap model
New South Wales and Queensland Border rivers Valleys independent audit of cap models
Peel Valley IQQM independent audit of component of Namoi cap model