Federal Rivers
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Federal Rivers

Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems

Edited by Dustin E. Garrick, George R.M. Anderson, Daniel Connell and Jamie Pittock

This groundbreaking book provides a comparative perspective on water and federalism across multiple countries. Through a collection of case studies, this book explores the water management experiences and lessons learned in ten federal countries and China. The territorial division of power in federations, plus the interconnected politics at the national and regional levels, present a classic governance test for waters shared across multiple political jurisdictions. This is increasingly important as democratic transitions have introduced or invigorated federalism across diverse contexts affecting more than 300 major river basins, including over half of the world’s international rivers.
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Chapter 19: The Murray-Darling Basin

Managing Water in Multi-Layered Political Systems

Daniel Connell


When it passed the Water Act (2007) the Australian national government took on a central role promoting water reform in the MurrayñDarling Basin (MDB). This development, which is a new stage in a long incremental process, has made the respective powers and responsibilities of the national and state jurisdictions in relation to water a frequent subject of public debate. A major point of interest is the use of water trading, not just to achieve economic benefits for entitlement holders, but as a strategy to achieve a complex set of connected reforms. As in many other countries water trading has been a central element in the Australian water reform program. An additional and unusual feature of the Australian example is that water trading is explicitly linked to efforts to achieve environmental sustainability. Other elements of the larger programme include comprehensive monitoring of a wide range of biophysical and economic issues and independent auditing of a range of issues. This is linked with efforts to promote public participation in water policy.

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