Water Journal : Water Journal August 2012
refereed paper governance water AUGUST 2012 65 indicated they had conflicts in their region and also highlighted the issues of conflict in their region, such as: "No rules yet established for environmental water. Issues regarding quality of water in lower reaches and licensing issues." "Large number of unlicensed users, difficulties with compliance." " ...users have complaints regarding lack of available stock and domestic (S&D) flows." To summarise, as one of the planners quoted: "[The] majority of plans have some level of conflict as a result of plan development". In case of conflicting interests, stakeholder involvement is crucial to resolve the conflicts by engaging in public consultations (NWI, 2004: Paragraphs 95, 96). Conclusions In Australia, as a result of the water institutional reforms implemented since 1995, water planning has become one of the most important tools for achieving sustainable use of water and, as evidenced in this study, water planners agree. The findings show there is a keen appreciation for and adoption of the values of the ESD policy in most of the Australian states and territories, and statutory water plans are definitely regarded as the right tool to achieve sustainable water use in Australia. Statutory water plans control water allocation by establishing rules for extraction of water for a variety of purposes, including maintaining appropriate environment flows. However, a major challenge is to allocate water between competing activities and the environment. This involves trade-offs and thereby raises the issues of fairness and equity (inter-generational and intra-generational). It is, therefore, very important to ensure that the process for making these trade-offs is transparent and involves sufficient community engagement. Furthermore, the study also found respondents favouring a federal system of water governance, suggesting a need for another round of water reforms to establish water governance at a national level (Brown, 2007; Wu et al., 2012). Establishing the National Water Commission (NWC) and allowing the Commission to continue as an independent agency to advise the Australian Government on national water issues is a positive step in this direction. Finally, water being a limited resource, there will always be dispute(s) over its allocation; so water allocation plans create winners and losers amongst existing and future water users, with the parties adversely affected often attempting to challenge water allocation plans in the courts (Preston, 2008). The solution, therefore, may be in enhanced consultation processes and in transparent processes in drafting plans. Acknowledgements The Authors acknowledge the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training for funding this study. They also thank the water planners for their time and for participating in the survey. The Authors Ganesh Keremane (email: ganesh. firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Research Associate at the Centre for Comparative Water Policies and Laws, School of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA. Professor Jennifer McKay is the Director of the Centre and Zhifang Wu is a Research Associate at the Centre. All three are also associated with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training. References Akhmouch A (2012): Water Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Multi-Level Approach, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2012/04, OECD Publishing. Brown AJ (2007): Reshaping Australia's Federation: the choices for regional Australia, Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 13(3), pp 235--253. 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Water Journal September 2012-1
Water Journal July 2012