FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke is confident a final plan for the Murray-Darling Basin is imminent.
Mr Burke submitted the Federal Government's final revisions to the draft plan to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) yesterday after striking a "reluctant consensus" with the Basin states on a number of issues.
"I'm not going to pretend that we were ever going to be in a situation where every state had an identical view on every aspect of the plan," he told reporters in Canberra.
"But wherever we were able to broker a consensus position, then that has been reflected in the letter that I've sent to the authority."
The Coalition says if the Basin states - Queensland, Victoria, NSW, the ACT and South Australia - aren't happy with the details, it will force the plan to a vote in Parliament.
Mr Burke said where disagreements remained unresolved, he used his own judgment to broker compromise that worked for all states.
The recommendations struck the right balance and could withstand any challenges, he said.
In its negotiations, the government formally supported for the first time a plan that sets 2750 gigalitres as the starting amount of water to be recovered for the environment.
Mr Burke confirmed the states had all agreed on specific water volumes they must return to the environment, after days of intensive negotiations.
Opposition water spokesman Barnaby Joyce said he understood NSW and Victoria were still displeased with the plan, and urged them to make their case heard.
"I'm going to give the states their opportunity to publicly state their case as well as get back in touch with our office," he said.
"I'm sure that if they're desperately unhappy they'll be lobbying us to vote against it."
However he conceded that if the Basin states had in fact signed off on the plan and supported it, then it would be hard to oppose it.
The government also notified the MDBA of its intent to allow an extra 450 GL into the Basin system through an additional $1.77 billion in infrastructure funding announced last week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
In legislation passed in the lower house this week, the government outlined how the bulk of that funding would go towards water saving projects on farms.
Mr Burke assured NSW and Victoria that improved infrastructure, not buyback schemes, would be the primary means of recovering the extra water.
"This plan means that the large-scale buyback rounds that have been seen in the past will not be seen on that scale again," he said.
Senator Joyce said it was crucial the government didn't rely on buyback schemes to recover water because the schemes hurt Basin communities.
The $1.77 billion, to be put into a special account and spent over a decade, will also help remove river constraints that restrict water flow throughout the system.
The MDBA will consider the feedback and "hopefully" return a final plan for Mr Burke to read, agree and sign into law.
"I certainly have every confidence that these suggestions will provide a pathway for the authority to come back with a Murray-Darling Basin plan in the next couple of weeks," Mr Burke said.