Irrigation Developments in Australia: Historical Development of Irrigation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


Australia has always been subject to climate-driven extremes in weather; floods and droughts are a part of the rhythm of water redistribution in the landscape to which the biodiversity and river ecosystems have adapted. However, since colonisation and the resulting disruption in the natural hydrological cycle through clearing, redirection of runoff, damming of river systems, expansion of agriculture and increased urban drawdown of its river systems and water resources, managing water in Australia has become challenging and of growing importance to all Australians. European settlers initially farmed small areas, followed in later years by larger broadacre irrigation schemes, mainly in the Murrumbidgee and Murray River valley regions of Victoria and NSW, with small developments in southern Tasmania. The land area developed for irrigation in Australia continued to expand over the next 150 years. Drying climates due to shifting rainfall patterns now being experienced in southern Australia exacerbated by global heating is increasingly impacting on the long-term reliability of the water resources in Australia and their allocation for alternative uses, such as irrigation, resulting in increased competition for available resources. Australia, having gone through significant expansion of irrigated agriculture in the 20th century, is at a crossroad in how it will manage its irrigated agriculture into the 21st century.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Irrigation Hydrology and Management
Subtitle of host publicationIrrigation Case Studies
EditorsSaeid Eslamian, Faezeh Eslamian
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781003353928
ISBN (Print)9781032406077, 9781032429106
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2023


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