National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development

Prepared by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Steering Committee
Endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments
December, 1992
ISBN 0 644 27253 8

Water Resource Management
Part 3 Intersectoral Issues - Chapter 18


To develop and manage in an integrated way, the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources, and to develop mechanisms for water resource management which aim to maintain ecological systems while meeting economic, social and community needs.

Strategic Approach

Governments will work to ensure that development decisions which impact on water resources are based on acceptable water quality and quantity criteria, and that management requirements to meet those criteria on a sustainable basis are recognised. Efforts will be focussed on using water more efficiently; allocating water for stream-flow and other environmental uses; and minimising pollution. Careful resource management policies, pricing policies aligned to the real value of the resource, and a national approach to environment protection measures for water quality.

Objective 18.1

  • to develop water management policies which are based on an integrated approach to the development and management of water resources

Governments will:

  • continue to encourage and support actions to develop and adopt an integrated catchment management approach to water resources
  • continue to improve coordinating mechanisms and policy initiatives for improved water resource management
  • develop improved measures for effective public participation in development of water pricing and allocation policies and water resource management measures
  • introduce legislative and policy frameworks for the protection of aquatic ecosystems which are based on an integrated catchment approach
  • improve management of water allocations to ensure the maintenance of in-stream and floodplain environmental values, including through development and implementation of more effective legal and policy frameworks
  • finalise consideration of the national water quality management strategy, in particular those aspects dealing with concerted action to address blue-green algal blooms
  • have regard to the wide range of action recommended to achieve the overall objective of the national water quality management strategy, this being sustainable use of the nation's water resources by protecting and enhancing their quality while maintaining economic and social development
  • consider the whole hydrological cycle in water management planning, including stormwater, waste waters and effluents
  • have regard to the recommendations arising from the Industry Commission's report on water resources and waste water disposal

Objective 18.2

  • to develop and implement the most effective mix of water resource management mechanisms

Governments will:

  • examine and determine within their own jurisdiction, the most effective mix of water resource management mechanisms, including appropriate pricing policies, regulatory measures, long-term monitoring strategies, adequate research support, better utilisation of existing infrastructure
  • give thorough consideration of the range of technological, economic, environmental, and social factors when upgrading or providing new infrastructure
  • continue working within their own jurisdictions to review the operation of their water management sector
  • continue to develop methodologies for the determination of environmental externalities into water pricing
  • encourage more rapid adoption of water pricing structures, including where appropriate, complete pay-for-use tariff policies, which more accurately reflect the price of delivery
  • focus on improving water markets and mechanisms for introducing more comprehensive systems of transferable water entitlements
  • continue to pursue institutional reform of water agencies
  • give consideration to ensuring that water agencies are given an opportunity to review particular types of land-use development proposals of particular concern to them
  • encourage further work on identification of sustainability research priorities for water resources and development of a national strategy for water information management
  • consider the feasibility of a national approach to establishing inventories on the condition and extent of wetlands, floodplains and riparian ecosystems, as a basis for ensuring their long term protection