International Approaches to Policy and Decision-making
Edited by Jayne M. Godfrey and Keryn Chalmers
Chapter 1: Beyond the Hydrographers’ Legacy: Water Accounting in Australia
Maryanne Slattery, Keryn Chalmers and Jayne M Godfrey INTRODUCTION Australia’s creation as a nation of federated states and territories in 1901 occurred during a period of intense water scarcity and nearly stalled on the issue of how to equitably share the Murray River system across three states. More than a century later, one of the most recent reforms is the development of a system of water accounting that incorporates aspects of accounting, engineering, hydrology and other water-related disciplines. This chapter explores the reasons why Australia is taking an internationally leading role in developing this General Purpose Water Accounting system, which is directed towards providing information that supports important economic, social, environmental and other decisions. It discusses the development of the system and identifies further developments required to enable General Purpose Water Accounting to fulfil its objective of providing information useful for decision-making. These developments include the establishment of a regulatory framework, the development of reporting standards and the building of capacity in this discipline through research and training. Such developments will enhance the quality of information relating to water report entities. Thereby, they should facilitate more informed decision-making, thus reducing risks and even potentially preventing or mitigating future water crises. Whilst the management of water and accountability for its management are relevant across Australia, they are arguably most salient in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB). The MDB covers approximately 1 million square kilometres (equivalent to the size of South Africa), in the country’s southeast. The main rivers in this area...
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