One place many stories: Murray-Darling Basin
In November 2012 Australia ended more than a century of disagreement on how to manage the Murray-Darling Basin and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan became law.
No one can understate the significance of this achievement.
When Australia's states were sorting out Federation in the 1890s one of the arguments they couldn't fix was the Murray-Darling Basin. One hundred and twenty years later it has finally been sorted out.
For too long the system was managed by state governments as if its rivers ended at state borders. And the health of the river suffered.
This resulted in toxic algal blooms, diminishing numbers of native fish and waterbirds, salinity, redgums dying from lack of water, and a lack of flushing through the Murray Mouth.
It was obvious that the rivers don't respect state boundaries when the mouth of the Murray closed in the recent drought. But the real game changer came in 1991 when a blue-green algae outbreak occurred, stretching for one thousand kilometres.
This was when the environment first turned up to the negotiating table and proved to be more ruthless and less compromising than any of the states.
Effectively, the rivers decided collectively that if we were going to manage the water as though it stopped at state boundaries then the water could not continue to function as a healthy working system. Only a national plan was going to put things right.
Now because of the actions now taken, Australia - a century late but hopefully just in time - has its first Murray-Darling Basin Plan. This reform restores the Murray-Darling Basin to health.
The first ever Basin Plan, signed into law last year allows us to pursue the outcomes of returning 3,200 gigalitres to the system.
The Plan itself restores 2,750 gigalitres of surface water to the environment and sets new, sustainable limits on water use. It also allows these environmental objectives to be reached in ways which minimise the impact on communities throughout the basin.
Knowing our rivers needed more of an insurance policy to face future challenges, the Commonwealth Parliament has authorised an additional $1.7 billion to deliver a further 450 gigalitres for the environment and remove flow constraints.
It's been a century in the waiting, but the ink is now dry on the page. The law is now in place. And the Murray-Darling Basin will be restored to health. After more than a century, the negotiating is over - the rivers won.
The Hon Mark Butler
Minister for Environment, Heritage and Water