A KEY milestone of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is inching closer to becoming a reality, with the assessment of the NSW water resource plans "progressing well". The NSW plans have been a constant thorn in the side of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The state missed multiple deadlines, which lead to the federal government withholding water funding from NSW. However, all 20 plans were submitted by June 30 and a new MDBA report stated despite delays caused by COVID-19, the assessment of the complex documents was well underway. MDBA executive director Tim Goodes said organisation was pulling out all stops to assess the NSW plans, but the process was challenging due to the volume of reports and scrutiny required. "We must assess each plan against the 55 requirements in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which ensure water across the basin and within each catchment is shared fairly and in the national interest," Mr Goodes said. "We are assessing these plans methodically and working closely with NSW to achieve plans that are fit for purpose for the long-term health of communities and industries. "This includes making sure planned environmental water is protected and water take is accounted for." Mr Goodes said open feedback had been provided every step of the way, some of which resulted in NSW withdrawing the proposed Lachlan River plan. "This is not unusual - all water resource plans have required changes before they could be recommended to the Minister for Water for accreditation," Mr Goodes said. "As an independent agency, we treat each plan the same to give communities confidence that the Basin's water resources are being managed consistently and fairly from the top of the Basin to the bottom." The 13 other water resource plans in the Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT catchments have already been approved and are operational.