Much of the focus around the Murray-Darling Basin has been on the Recovering Our Rivers bill and it allowing the Federal Government the option of water buybacks.
While that has been in the front and centre of many producers minds, other aspects of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan have been continuing, although not as fast as some would hope.
Murray-Darling Basin Authority CEO Andrew McConville said the plan progress in 2023 has been a "bit of a mixed bag".
Mr McConville said in terms of progress, it had been a slow year.
"If I'm really frank, we haven't seen the progress that we would like on the NSW water resource plans (WRPs)," he said.
"We now have 10 WRPs that have been accredited, but that still means there are 10 to go.
"So we would like to see more progress there.
"We've seen very little to no progress at all in relation to the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism (SDLAM) projects.
"That's been the focus of the bill. It's now become more about the recovery of the environmental efficiency water, the 450 gigalitres.
"We haven't seen a lot of progress there and again we hit the subject of the bill and the intent of the government to maybe try and unlock some of that with the changes that they've made."
Mr McConville said a positive for the plan in 2023 has been the progress from the nothern basin catchments.
"In the northern basin, we have seen some progress," he said.
"The Northern Basin toolkit has six measures and we have started to see some progress across some of those which is pleasing.
"So it has been a bit of a mixed bag in the context of the Basin Plan. We've got WRPs outstanding, not enough progress on water recovery, and some good stuff in the northern basin."
Mr McConville said the WRPs play a significant role in the plan and he is hoping the majority of them will be accredited by the middle of next year.
"We continue to expect some good progress on the plans that have been submitted and those currently being prepared as we move into the new year," he said.
"I remain pretty hopeful that we can get some really good solid progress on those remaining WRPs in the first half of next year.
"There's a couple that are still sitting with the NSW Government but we would see a good portion of those 10 WRPs are likely to be in a form that we would then be able to get through them and put them forward to the minister."
The possibility of water buybacks has been met with strong concern from irrigation-reliant communities as some are just now recovering from the 2012 buybacks.
Mr McConville believes the bill will also allow more time for SDLAM projects to recover more water, reducing the amount of buybacks.
"We've estimated at June 2024, in the upper range of a 300gl short fall from SDLAM projects," he said.
"Then there's probably still 420-odd gigaliters of the environmental efficiency water.
"What the bill does is provide an opportunity for more time and more flexibility.
"Yes, water purchase buybacks is likely to be part of that mix.
"The more we can see the potential of other SDLAM projects come to the fore, the more we can see communities working with government to explore where there might be options around on-farm efficiencies and different operating procedures, there might be other alternatives to reduce the amount of water purchased."