Supporting sustainable water management: Insights from Australia's reform journey and future directions for the Murray-Darling Basin

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Abstract

Effective regulation of freshwater remains one of the biggest challenges facing our societies. In times of record-breaking weather extremes spurred by a changing climate, decision makers are increasingly aware of the need to formulate more effective governance to ensure the reliability, accessibility, and quality of this life-giving resource. In recent years, the Australian government has played a key role in water management. The government has managed a significant amount of water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), through its Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) agency, in a bid to increase river flows and thus improve the river system's environmental and ecological conditions. The CEWH is unique in many respects, and the Australian government's control of its budget and actions is a critical aspect of the Basin's sustainable long-term management. Despite the importance of this instrument, this article points out that there are serious issues with the current governance arrangements, such as inherent conflicts in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) role, which is a concern raised by the Productivity Commission. This article goes on to recommend the policy changes required to address Basin-wide issues and promote sustainable practices to ensure the MDB's long-term resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1649
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume10
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2018

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