Much has been made of alleged water theft and lack of political willpower as reasons for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan's demonstrable failure. And while sure, New South Wales is pulling out of a plan the government failed to monitor and enforce at any rate, experts are now pointing to a fundamental misunderstanding of ecological systems -- namely return flow, and poorly thought-out irrigation infrastructure -- as a sign that the $13 billion plan was doomed before it began.

Of the $6 billion already spent on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, some $4 billion has been spent on water recovery infrastructure projects that, according to a recent report delivered by University of South Australia Economics Professor Lin Crase and 11 other water experts, offer “no scientific evidence that they have actually increased net stream flows”.