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Basin authority to submit 'contentious' Murray river plan
24/05/2012 - A revised draft plan to restore the health of the Murray Darling river system will be forwarded to the basin states next week.
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Widely criticised by scientists, environmentalists, irrigators and all four basin states, the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has almost finished reworking the contentious plan it released in November.
That follows a 20-week consultation period, and several weeks of reviewing public submissions on the plan.
State ministers will have another six weeks to comment on the revised plan.
Their input will in turn be passed back to the MDBA, which will decide whether any additional changes will be made, MDBA chief executive Rhondda Dickson told a parliamentary Senate estimates committee in Canberra on Wednesday.
She could not say exactly what day next week the revised plan would be released.
The November plan proposed returning 2750 gigalitres of surface water to the Murray Darling river system.
It also recommended an extra 2600 gigalitres be extracted from underground aquifers in the basin.
For different reasons, all of the basin states - South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland, opposed the plan.
South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill was so enraged he threatened a High Court challenge, arguing the plan wouldn't ensure the long-term sustainability of the river system.
Dickson said she wasn't aware of a formal legal challenge to the plan.
"There's been a lot of talk and it has been mentioned in quite a few submissions but we haven't seen any documents to (ascertain) what the legal challenge might look like," she said.
She did not say if the revised plan would include changes to the amount of surface water the MDBA sought to recover but did flag changes to the groundwater figure.
If the states could not agree on a final plan, the ultimate decision would be made by Burke on whether or not to adopt it, Dickson said.
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