Water Journal : Water Journal August 2012
refereed paper governance water AUGUST 2012 63 All were involved in the preparation and adoption of water allocation plans in their regions and had close links with the local communities established through sufficient community involvement in the water planning process. Initial contact with the respondents was established by a snowballing exercise and thorough desk research; a list of 40 potential respondents was generated and these were contacted by telephone and/or email to check their availability and interest to participate in the study. This exercise was time-consuming, and getting the list of people involved in water planning was challenging, reflected by the relatively low number of final respondents (Table 1). This was mostly because people who were initially involved had either changed their work location (e.g. interdepartmental moves) or work type (from policy to service delivery) as a result of the Australian Public Sector (APS) reforms (Moran, 2010). Findings and Discussions As mentioned earlier, this study wanted to understand water planners' perception about water governance, their views on federalism in Australian water management, achieving ESD and conflicts over water allocation. Therefore, the survey included a mix of question types related to these issues. Water governance and sustainable water resource management Governance of water resources is a long- term, complex affair in which many actors (governments, large businesses, political parties, civil societies, international agencies) at many different levels (basin, municipal, regional, national, international) have to take responsibilities and account to others (Akhmouch, 2012; Laban, 2007; McKay, 2007b). According to Rogers and Hall (2003), governance in the water sector must be perceived as a subset of a country's general governance system of how various actors relate to each other. Therefore, it is important that these interactions are considered when promoting local water governance (Laban, 1994; 2007). Accordingly, the survey asked the respondents about their views on the current water governance arrangements in Australia, federalism in water resources management, and sustainable water resources management. The survey provided some likert-type scale statements related to these issues and asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the statements (Figure 1). Overall, there was a disagreement among the respondents on water governance responsibility being clearly defined between the federal, state and local governments in Australia. A majority of respondents favoured a federal system of water governance similar to the findings in other studies (Brown, 2007; Wu et al., 2012), which reported that the bulk of Australians support federalism in Australia and believe it is time for many areas of state government regulation to give way to uniform national plans. But when asked specifically about who should be responsible for allocating the water resources and planning and developing sustainable water development strategies, respondents favoured state governments over the Commonwealth. Achieving sustainability in the use of water resources means achieving ESD, which is a result of the two phases of ambitious reform of state laws and policies for water management: (1) the 1994 COAG reforms and (2) the 2004 National Water Initiative (NWI). The COAG reforms required massive changes to water governance, including achieving ESD, while the NWI is much more prescriptive and sets out goals that water supply businesses and state governments must encourage rural and urban communities to achieve ESD (McKay, 2007b). Furthermore, statutory water plans are seen as the means to achieving sustainability in water management. This study wanted to know what 'sustainability in water management' meant to the water planners. The general impression from the responses received was that sustainable water management means ensuring environmental, economic, social and cultural water requirements are protected without compromising intergenerational equity. Here are some of the expressions of sustainable water resources management as envisaged by the water planners: "Sustainable water management varies from community to community and is a concept that reflects the values of a community in a particular time and place." "Ecologically sustainable water resource management involving use, conserve, and management in Table 1. State-wise breakdown of the respondents expressing interest in the study. State or Territory No. of respondents Australian Capital Territory 1 (1) New South Wales 6 (11) Northern Territory 0 (3) Queensland 2 (4) South Australia 6 (8) Tasmania 2 (6) Victoria 3 (4) Western Australia 3 (3) Total 23 (40) Note: Figures in parentheses indicate the number of planners contacted. Figure 1. Attitude towards federalism in Australian water management.
Water Journal September 2012-1
Water Journal July 2012