Aerial view of the Murray Darling Basin

The second and final Water for the Environment Special Account (WESA) Report has been released by Federal Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek.

The documents and their findings were unreleased and remained secret under former Environment Minister, now Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Sussan Ley.

The report found the government could not deliver on its obligation to deliver 450GL of water for the environment.

“It is not possible to reach the 450GL target through the current efficiency measures program – the Off Farm Efficiency Program – even if the WESA’s time and budget limits were removed,” the report read.

“Putting aside program and timing limitations, the estimated cost to recover the full 450GL through [only] efficiency measures is between $3.4 billion and $10.8 billion.”

The Water for the Environment Special Account is the fund set up under the Water Act 2007 for two purposes:

$1.575 billion to assist in delivering the 450GL of additional water for the environment

$200 million for easing or removing constraints on the river channel’s capacity to deliver water to environmental sites.

These funds are available for a decade from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2024.

“This is another report that was kept secret by the previous Federal Government. It was handed to the previous Minister, the Hon Keith Pitt, before Christmas last year,” Ms Plibersek said.

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