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Australian Water Resources. Brief overview History Water resource issues in Australia COAG Water Reforms Tradeoffs between biodiversity & economy A case study - the Murray-Darling Basin The Cap Institutional arrangements ICM framework Comparisons with South Africa. Water in general.

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australian water resources
Australian Water Resources
  • Brief overview
  • History
  • Water resource issues in Australia
  • COAG Water Reforms
  • Tradeoffs between biodiversity & economy
  • A case study - the Murray-Darling Basin
    • The Cap
    • Institutional arrangements
    • ICM framework
  • Comparisons with South Africa
water in general
Water in general
  • Water problems are emotional
  • Water issues are political
  • Water solutions are technical
triple vision
Triple vision?

Balancing social, environmental and economic dimensions of water resource management

brief overview
Brief overview
  • Australia is dry - average rainfall 470mm/yr
  • Only 12% rainfall runs off to rivers
  • Climate is highly variable - “where the rivers are dry or 10 feet high”
  • Population in SE, water in NW
  • Murray-Darling Basin is large ICM trial
  • 14% land area (1 million km2), 70% all water used for irrigation, 40% agricultural GVP
  • Great Artesian Basin is world’s largest aquifer
  • 15 million ML groundwater available each year
history
History
  • 1795 - Protection of Sydney’s water supply
  • 1857 - First major dam & reticulated water supply
  • 1880 - Water & Conservation District Act (VIC)
  • 1901 - Federation: 6 states each managing water
  • 1915 - River Murray Agreement
  • 1949 - Snowy Mountains Scheme
  • 1971 - Lake Pedder Dam
  • 1983 - Blue green algal scare in Darling River
  • 1985 - Murray Darling Basin Commission formed
  • 1987 - Privatisation of irrigation schemes
  • 1994 - COAG water reforms
  • 1997 - Introduce Cap on extractions from M-DB
water resource issues
Water Resources

Demand exceeds supply - 26% areas over-allocated

30% groundwater units over-allocated

Natural turbidity

Phosphate pollution

Nitrate pollution

Algal blooms

Salinisation - especially in southern basins

Changed flow regimes

Pest fish species

Catchment Resources

Devolution of authority

Politics of water & catchment management

Cost of repairing damage

Declining runoff due to off-stream storage

Rising saline water tables

Alien plants & animals

Declining biodiversity

Increasing returns from irrigated agriculture

Water resource issues
1994 coag water reforms
1994 COAG Water Reforms
  • Strategic framework for water industry reform to ensure efficient and sustainable use of water
  • Links environmental & economic objectives:
    • Environmental flows
    • Improve water quality
    • Integrated catchment management
    • Pricing water at full cost of resource & services
    • Water trading within & between basins
    • Separate service delivery & regulation
  • Aims for consistent approach nationally
case study mdbc
Case study: MDBC
  • Murray-Darling Basin covers 1 million km2
  • 14% Australia, 70% irrigation, 40% Ag. GVP
  • Murray-Darling Basin Commission formed 1985
  • 6 governments in partnership with community
  • Large integrated catchment management trial
  • Different instruments for change:
    • ICM Statement - goals, values & principles
    • Salinity Strategy - strategic investigations & actions
    • Basin Sustainability Program - $ for implementation
    • Local Action Planning groups - participation
  • Regulating flows, supervising inter-state trade
the cap
The Cap
  • 1995 - moratorium on growth in water diversions
  • 1997 - permanent cap on water diversions
  • Demand for water continuing to grow fast
    • Price of permanent water entitlement increased from A$400 to A$1200 per ML between 1995 and 2002
    • Volume traded increasing at 30% per year
    • Growing market for leased water
  • Politically difficult - tradeoffs & compromise
    • Queensland & NSW considering pulling out
  • Good example of integrated management of economic, social & environmental issues
the icm framework
The ICM Framework
  • Goal & vision for healthy rivers, innovative and sustainable industries and healthy communities
  • Management of social, economic & social assets
  • Framework for hard choices - tradeoffs
    • 40% reduction in irrigation to protect endangered fish
    • Increase cost of water to include “resource rent”
    • Value ecosystem services
    • Change flow regimes to protect wetlands
    • Reduce salinising activities to protect ecosystems
  • Introduce end-of-valley targets
  • Penalise catchments that don’t meet targets
  • Devolve responsibility & resources to community
  • Increase collaboration between states & agencies
comparisons with sa
Comparisons with SA
  • Similar tradeoffs between environment & economy
    • over allocation in some basins
    • political imperative for regional economic development
    • growing voice for the environment from urban elites
  • Social dimension in SA includes equity issues
  • National policy setting increases consistency
  • Water and land institutions remain separated - IWRM rather than ICM
  • International dimensions & inter-basin transfers
  • NWA structure similar to Australian Acts
    • sustainable use & management of water resources
    • public participation in water resource management
    • balance between economy, ecology & community
what is sustainable use
What is sustainable use?
  • How should water be used?
  • Where should water be used?
  • How much should water cost?
  • Who decides the tradeoff between water for the environment and water for development?
  • Who has the right to use water?
  • How can rivers, wetlands and groundwater be saved or restored?
  • Are there multiple use strategies to meet both environmental and economic needs?
resources
Resources
  • www.mdbc.gov.au
  • www.nlwra.gov.au
  • www.csiro.org.au/lw
  • www.lwa.gov.au
  • www.wri.org
  • www.worldbank.org/water
  • www.wrc.gov.za
  • www.dwaf.gov.za
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