Australia faces major challenges in ensuring sustainable water supply in the face of drying climate and rising demand for water. In response, the Australian Government's framework, Water for the Future, provides national leadership in water reform for all Australians
Water for the Future is built on four key priorities:
1. Taking action on climate change
The Government is building the scientific and technical expertise to understand how much water Australia's river and groundwater systems are capable of providing into the future.
Answering this question is fundamental to the question of long term water security, providing the information to underpin improved planning, decision making and water resource investment by governments and industry stakeholders.
2. Using water wisely
Climate change undoubtedly means we need to be able to do more with less. In rural areas, the Government will work with the States to improve key irrigation infrastructure in order to minimise system losses and enhance water use efficiency. In urban areas, the Government has a rainwater and greywater program to help families invest in saving water at home.
The Government will also provide new and replacement water infrastructure in our cities and towns.
The Government is working with the States to better coordinate efforts in enhancing the effectiveness of water markets and assessing water supply in remote communities, including Indigenous communities.
3 Securing water supplies
Desalination plants, recycling schemes and stormwater projects are currently being built around the country as a means of better securing urban water supplies. Importantly, the Government's $1 billion National Urban Water and Desalination Plan, which will support such initiatives, will also be used to leverage further urban water reform by the States.
4. Support healthy rivers
Australia's rivers and groundwater systems provide most of the water we use in our homes and to grow food and other crops.
Many of Australia's river systems are under stress as a result of climate change, drought and a history of taking too much water out of the rivers.
The Australian Government is investing to improve the health of our important rivers by:
- Buying back water entitlements from willing sellers under the $3.1 billion Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin Program.
- Setting a new, scientifically informed cap on the amount of water that can be taken out of rivers and groundwater systems in the Murray-Darling Basin.
Delivery of Water for the Future
The Australian Government's Water for the Future priorities will be delivered through a ten-year investment in strategic programs, improved water management arrangements, and a renewed commitment to deliver a range of water policy reforms in both rural and urban areas.
- New Council of Australian Government reforms
- The Water Act 2007 (legislation for key elements of the framework)
- National Water Initiative (the blueprint for Australia's water reform)
- Water for the Future Policies and Programs
- Water for the Future: Speech to the 4th Annual Australian Water Summit, 29 April 2008 (PDF - 46 KB)
For up-to-date information about the Water for the Future initiative.
- Bureau of Meteorology - water information
- Council of Australian Governments' Water Reform Framework
- Lake Eyre Basin Agreement
- Living Murray Initiative
- Murray-Darling Basin Authority
- National Water Commission
- COAG review of the National Water Commission
- National Water Initiative
- NWI reforms
- Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme
- Water for a Healthy Country Flagship
- Watering locations
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