A leaked copy of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has sparked fears of massive job losses and water allocation cuts.


The leaked copy proposes significant cuts to allocations for irrigators, with details suggesting that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) will cut annual water allocation from 2009 levels by 2,800 gigalitres.


The proposed cuts come after original plans suggested a cut of 3,400 gigalitres, which sparked outrage earlier last year.


Despite the dissatisfaction with the planned cuts, environmental groups such as the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) are calling for more environmental flows.


"We have to return more water to those rivers and the best science is telling us that about 4,000 gigalitres of water a year needs to be returned to the basin to ensure a healthy future for the people who live there and rely on those rivers for their livelihoods,” Arlene Buchan from the ACF..  


““The new plan must deliver enough water to flush salt from the system, keep the Murray Mouth open without dredging and provide greater certainty for communities in South Australia and throughout the Basin,” Dr Buchan said.


Dr Buchan’s comments come as the ACF has called on Environment and Water Minister Tony Burke to set up an independent scientific panel to assess the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan and advise Parliament on what’s required to deliver enough water and greater security to the Basin.


Over a third of the proposed water savings have been achieved through buybacks and efficiency measures, leaving a substantial amount to be secured.