Murray-Darling Basin - Protect Our Winters Australia



Murray-Darling Basin

You're invited! For those in Canberra, ANU is hosting a panel event on the Our Changing Snowscapes report on June 13th 5:30-7:30PM. For those everywhere else you can join the live stream - register your attendance now here.

The Australian Alps provide an average of 9,600 gigalitres of water per year into the Murray-Darling Basin, which is around 29% of the Basin’s total annual flows.

Water from the Snowy Mountains NSW region is worth between $43.6 million and $1.974 billion annually (average $498.09 million) based on water allocation prices. These calculations are extremely conservative as they do not account for the social, environmental, or cultural values of water.

Water from the Australian Alps is worth approximately $15 billion annually in 2024 prices, when all social and production benefits are considered (noting that this figure was originally calculated in 2009 using 2005 water prices and has been adjusted for inflation).

Climate change will directly reduce precipitation in the Australia Alps by up to -11% by 2050 and -20% by 2080. Increased temperatures, droughts, and bushfires will alter high country vegetation and soils, and dry out peatbogs, further decreasing the catchment yield.

There is already water conflict in the Murray-Darling Basin between agricultural production, domestic drinking water, regional communities, tourism, cultural flows for First Nations, and the environment. Reduced inflows from the Australian Alps will exacerbate this conflict, make trade-offs between water uses more difficult, and are likely to exacerbate a decline in community mental health and wellbeing.


Ecosystem functions need to be maintained where possible, such as through maintaining canopy cover, soils, and healthy wetlands, to maximise the quality and quantity of inflows from the Australian Alps.

Trade-offs that result in ecosystem function decline (such as tourism or hydroelectricity expansion), should only be made with full consideration of impacts to the Murray-Darling Basin.

Download this section

This page is a summary of the ‘The Murray-Darling Basin’ section from the report Our Changing Snowscapes: Climate Change Impacts and Recommendations for the Australian Alps.

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POW Australia is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers. We are investing on behalf of our community to fight for the places you love and protect our alpine environments. We need your support to keep pushing and protecting winters in Australia.

Protect Our Winters Australia acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land upon which we live, work and play. We pay respects to the Elders, past, present and future, across the many Nations. Their ancestral ties to country have never been extinguished, and sovereignty never ceded.

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