Water Policy Reform

Water Policy Reform

Lessons in Sustainability from the Murray–Darling Basin

Edited by John Quiggin, Thilak Mallawaarachchi and Sarah Chambers

Agriculture in the Murray–Darling Basin of Australia represents a controversial ‘policy experiment’ comprising large capital investments, innovation and enterprise across a hundred-year period. This book, which contains contributions from some of Australia’s foremost economic, social science and public policy researchers and writers, examines the evolution of public policy frameworks that transformed water management from initial exploitation for irrigation as a dominant single use to a dynamic multiple use resource system.

Chapter 8: Maximising Benefits from Murray–Darling Basin Water Resource Management

Jeff Connor, Onil Banerjee, Darla Hatton MacDonald, Sorada Tapsuwan, Mark Morrison and Anthony Ryan

Subjects: development studies, development studies, environment, environmental geography, management natural resources, water


Jeff Connor, Onil Banerjee, Darla Hatton MacDonald, Sorada Tapsuwan, Mark Morrison and Anthony Ryan INTRODUCTION The legislation underpinning the Basin Plan (the Water Act 2007) requires the protection and restoration of Basin ecological assets through the setting of sustainable diversion limits (SDLs). In meeting these environmental objectives, it also requires optimizing social, environmental, and economic outcomes of Basin water resource management, including net economic returns from Basin water resource management, for the Australian community. A further requirement is that all assessments underpinning the Plan are to be based on best scientific and economic practice and in observance of the National Water Initiative (CoAG, 2004). It can be argued that achieving these multiple objectives requires a full social BCA that accounts for not just consumptive water use values but also non-market values associated with public good environmental assets and water use externalities. This chapter provides an assessment of methodologies for estimating meaningful non-consumptive use values in public goods and water use externalities and including these in a BCA to inform public policy. The relevant concepts are briefly outlined in relation to the concept of total economic value (TEV). Economic techniques to assess benefits and costs with a distinction between stated preference, revealed preference, and cost-based approaches are briefly described. The discussion draws on existing studies to highlight the potential to provide environmental benefits assessment that could better inform Basin water resource management. 136 Columns Design XML Ltd / Job: Quiggin-Water_Policy_Reform / Division: 09Chap8 /Pg. Position: 1 / Date: 7/2...

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