Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, October 2010
Border Rivers - Condamine catchment area, QLD
Photo: A. Mostead
Australia is facing major challenges due to climate change, climate variability and reduced water availability.
Water for the Future is the Australian Government's long-term initiative to better balance the water needs of communities, farmers and the environment.
It contains a suite of urban and rural policies and programs, including significant funding for water purchasing, irrigation modernisation, desalination, recycling, and stormwater capture.
The greatest focus is on the Murray-Darling Basin to provide farmers and communities with more confidence to plan for a future with less water, to put water use on a sustainable footing, to enhance irrigation productivity, and to improve river and wetland health.
Water for the Future is built on four key priorities:
- Taking action on climate change
- Using water wisely
- Securing water supplies
- Supporting healthy rivers and wetlands.
Taking action on climate change
The Australian Government is preparing for the impacts of climate change on Australia's water resources through:
- the development of a Basin Plan to establish sustainable water diversion limits in the Murray-Darling Basin;
- better monitoring, assessment and forecasting of the availability, condition and use of water resources in Australia;
- helping farmers and rural communities plan for the impacts of climate change on water availability;
- assessing current and future water availability in the Murray-Darling Basin, Tasmania, south-west Western Australia and northern Australia through the CSIRO Sustainable Yields projects; and
- investigation of the development of northern Australia's water resources.
Using water wisely
Murray Bridge, SA
Photo: J. Baker
The Australian Government is encouraging the wise use of water by:
- providing investment to:
- Improve the efficiency and productivity of on-farm irrigation water use and management
- Help irrigation water providers develop modernisation plans for their districts, upgrade irrigation infrastructure and assess options to adapt to a future with less water, and
- fund private irrigation infrastructure operators to modernise and upgrade irrigation infrastructure both on and off farm;
- reforming the water market to establish cooperative, efficient and effective planning and management arrangements for the Basin's water and other natural resources;
- helping Australian households and surf lifesaving clubs save potable water supplies by installing rainwater tanks and greywater systems; and
- Helping households save water and money with the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme.
Securing water supplies
Cotter River in the ACT before the 2003 bushfires
Photo: A. Tatnell and DEWHA
Water for the Future is helping cities and towns secure their water supplies and prepare for a future with less water by:
- supporting local governments in the Murray-Darling Basin to assist in community-wide planning for a future with less water and invest in water savings initiatives;
- investing in desalination, water recycling and stormwater harvesting and reuse projects to reduce reliance on rainfall; and
- funding practical projects that save water and reduce water losses in towns and cities across Australia.
Supporting healthy rivers
Many of Australia's river systems are under stress as a result of climate change and drought. The Government is investing to improve the health of our rivers by:
- setting a sustainable level of water that can be taken out of rivers and groundwater systems in the Murray-Darling Basin, and preparing an Environmental Watering Plan for the Basin;
- purchasing water entitlements which can be used for the environment; and
- allocating Commonwealth water to the environmental assets that most need to be protected or restored.
For more information on any of these programs telephone 1800 218 478 (free call) visit; www.environment.gov.au/water; or email email@example.com