Former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty was hand-picked by the federal government to inquire into Basin water sharing arrangements and visited Albury as part of his investigations this year.
He was appointed in response to frustrated NSW and Victorian irrigators converging on Canberra wanting the present Murray-Darling Basin Plan torn up.
Mr Keelty's interim report was released on Friday as southern NSW irrigators fear a third successive year of zero water allocations.
"The stress and, at times, anguish is palpable when you meet with some of the people who help contribute substantially to the Australian economy through production of food and fibre, as well as recreation and tourism," Mr Keelty said.
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"Beyond the mental and emotional toll of severe and extended drought, many people are wondering about the viability of their businesses if current conditions continue.
"The most telling finding is the dramatic reduction in inflows that has been experienced in the River Murray system over the last two decades or so.
"This remains the primary driver of reduced water availability, and there is little anyone can do to influence when and how much it rains."
Between 1895 and 2020, half the driest 10 per cent of years had occurred in the past 20 years.
Among Mr Keelty's recommendations were the MDBA undertaking further analysis of the causes of reduced inflows, from the northern basin, and the extent of its impact on state water shares.
MDBA chief executive Phlllip Glyde said it co-operated fully with Mr Keelty's team and provided them with data and facts.
"They challenged us rigorously, and subsequently found that as river managers we are doing a good job," he said.
"We know some irrigators will feel disappointed that the report has not unearthed any new water for communities doing it tough because of the drought, however it does show that every drop is accounted for and is made available to the state governments to manage and allocate according to their rules.
"Our river operators are expert at what they do and they work co-operatively with their state colleagues."