Water Journal : Water Journal August 2012
governance refereed paper technical features 64 AUGUST 2012 water a way and at a rate that will enable people and communities to provide their economic, social and physical well-being." "Managing a resource to ensure primarily that needs of in-situ values are met and that water is reliably available now and in the future for all users." Next, the survey asked the planners: Is a water allocation plan the right way to approach sustainable water policy? A majority of the water planners (65%) agreed that a statutory water plan was the right way to approach sustainable water policy, but pointed out some issues that need to be addressed. For example, one of them said: "Statutory water planning is the right way to go; however, there are some caveats; the legal framework for developing the water plans must stipulate clearly what must be covered in plan development. Issues such as environmental water requirements, cultural water definition, historical rights to water, etc, must be addressed..." The rest, who either disagreed or were not sure, substantiated their responses. For example, one planner stated, it (a water plan) is not the right way to achieving sustainability in the use of water resources because "too much is required from a single instrument. Use of multiple instruments enables the creation and implementation of new water management tools. The planning process as described in Commonwealth documents is resource intensive and inflexible". Balancing equity and environment in water allocation planning The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, 1992, defines ESD as: "Using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased. Put more simply, ESD is the development that aims to meet the needs of Australians today, while conserving our ecosystems for future generations". In relation to water resources, this clearly requires the most appropriate allocation and use of the limited resource to meet the growing demand of economic objectives, social needs and environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, the dilemma facing water planners is to balance between equity (inter- and intra-generational) and the environment. Therefore, the survey asked the planners to rate inter-generational equity, intra- generational equity and the environment in order of importance. They were asked to rate these separately: first from their own perspective -- what is most important to them while developing and implementing a water plan; and, second, what is important to the community -- as observed during the planning process (Figure 2). Admitting all three are very important, water planners rated future needs -- including the needs of the environment and next generations (inter-generational equity) -- as being more important to them while preparing a plan than the current equity among different user groups (intra-generational equity). On the contrary, based on their observations during consultation meetings and negotiations with various stakeholders during the planning process, the planners felt communities generally place more importance on intra-generational equity than inter-generational equity and environment because, as explained by one of the planners, "to them (communities) intra-generational equity is more immediate than looking forward to next generation and sometimes (it is) hard for the community to think of longer term (inter-generational equity)". Conflicts over water plans Water allocation is mostly contentious and, therefore, the process of developing and adopting a water plan requires that various stakeholders negotiate through these issues. As Preston (2008) points out, achieving sustainability in water management has been the subject of different types of litigation, including those arising due to re-allocation of water resources between users through the means of water allocation plans. This is also illustrated by McKay et al. (2010), who used an innovative research method called 'Photostory' (Keremane and McKay, 2011) to demonstrate irrigators' views on water allocation issues in rural Australia and the photostories -- photos with narrative (see Figure 3) -- represent some of their experiences. "Everyone agrees that the environment should be placed high on the agenda for water use, but with the water that is available, irrigators, forestry and other industries are a lot more vocal. Not many people stand up for the environment." "This bore is right next to the forest, competing for water use." Figure 3. Photostories about water allocation issues in rural Australia. Since water planners are usually involved in negotiating with the stakeholders to resolve conflicts over water allocation, this study asked them if their region had (any) conflict over the water plan(s). Most of the planners (86%) Figure 2. Inter- and intra-generational equity and the environment -- order of importance.
Water Journal September 2012-1
Water Journal July 2012