Australian Bookcase

Australian Journey Series

Building Resilience to Drought: The Millenium Drought and Water Reform in Australia

Australia’s Millennium Drought (1997–2009) severely tested new arrangements developed during a multi-decadal program of water reform and lead to a new set of arrangements for dealing with drought and water scarcity. The drought ultimately played a key role in progressing water reform and building resilience to future water scarcity.
Building Resilience to Drought (913kb)

The Australian Water Reform Journey: An overview of three decades of policy, management and institutional transformation

Traces how water policy, management and institutional arrangements have been transformed in Australia over the past three decades. Distils the key elements of the reform journey and lessons learned in conducting reforms.
The Australian Water Reform Journey (686kb)

Climate change

Climate change and water security in the Indo-Pacific region: Risks, responses, and a framework for action

Water insecurity has become a global challenge. Scattered evidence of climate change impacts on water security is emerging, and actions taken to manage climate risks are under-reported. This report suggests that management focus should be based on socioecological zones rather than political boundaries, because climate risks vary according to these zones. The report presents a framework for action based on a risk management approach at the socioecological zone level.

Climate change and water security in the Indo-Pacific region (PDF, 21MB)

Valuing Water Series

Valuing Water: The Australian Perspective. Lessons from the Murray-Darling Basin

This is one in a series of four reports that examine how the diverse values placed on water have shaped the development and management of water resources in the Murray Darling River Basin. The report synthesises and elicits generalisable lessons from three case studies that tell the story of valuing water in the Basin through the primary lenses of economics, environment and Australia’s First Nations cultural values of water.

The insights and generalisable lessons presented in this report are primarily intended for policy makers, practitioners, water managers, water engineers, civil society organisations and academics to inform and improve water management in other country contexts. These lessons are provided not as a roadmap for direct transfer elsewhere, but rather as framing and guidance that should be viewed through the lens of the hydrological, ecological, socioeconomic and political context of a specific basin or country.

This series of reports is the result of a collaborative effort between the World Bank and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with support from the Australian Water Partnership, to promote more equitable, transparent and effective management of water resources development. The report is also available to download from the World Bank.

Valuing Water Synopsis Report (PDF, 20MB)

Valuing Water: The Australian Perspective. Economic values of water under scarcity in the Murray-Darling Basin.

This is one in a series of four reports that examine how the diverse values placed on water have shaped the development and management of water resources in the Murray Darling River Basin. The report explores how changing values have affected the management of scarce water resources in the Murray-Darling River Basin.

Four main phases in water management are described, together with an exploration of how changing perceptions of value have shaped policy, objectives and outcomes over time.

This report shows how water management can be adjusted in response to changes in our understanding of value and how this understanding can lead to more transparent valuation processes. Although water policies in the Basin have supported an open and flexible economy, and resilient and adaptive businesses, significant challenges remain in the management of its environmental and cultural values.

Valuing Water: Economic values (PDF, 13MB)

Valuing Water: The Australian Perspective. Environmental values of water in the Murray-Darling Basin

This is one in a series of four reports that examine how the diverse values placed on water have shaped the development and management of water resources in the Murray Darling River Basin.

The report provides an overview of the Australian experience with environmental water reform and gives a detailed account of the current management regime for environmental water, showing how environmental water policy has developed in the context of the Basin’s unique set of social, economic, political, institutional and hydrological variables. Development of a policy framework that recognised the environment as a legitimate water user in the Basin has had to respond to major droughts, competing societal interests, a transboundary system (albeit within a single nation), political power contests and interests, and stakeholder groups with often divergent values.

The report provides lessons about generalisations that can be made from the successes and challenges in management of water for the environment in the Basin. These lessons are presented according to three themes: recognition and acceptance of environmental values, identification of environmental water policy options, and implementation of environmental water policy.

Valuing Water: Environmental values (PDF, 11MB)

Valuing Water: The Australian Perspective. Cultural values of water in the Murray-Darling Basin

This is one in a series of four reports that examine how the diverse values placed on water have shaped the development and management of water resources in the Murray Darling River Basin. The report tells a story of how Australia’s First Nations communities and their cultural values are included in the management of water in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin. It explores themes regarding the recognition or identification of First Nations water values, how these values are considered in decision making, and the protection of these values. Connection to land and waters is fundamental to the cultural values of First Nations people and there is increasing progress in recognising and involving First Nations in restoring sustainable management as Australia continues its journey of dealing with increasing water demands in a highly variable and changing climate. However, only in recent decades has there been a move towards legal and moral recognition of ownership of the lands and waters occupied by its many nations before colonisation of Australia from 1788.

The report looks at the inclusion of First Nations values and perspectives in water management across the Basin through various statutory mechanisms, tailored engagement processes and mainstream community engagement activities. The case study concludes with some general lessons about efforts in the Murray-Darling River Basin to recognise, assess and realise Indigenous cultural values associated with water that may be useful for others.

Valuing Water: Cultural values (PDF, 10MB)

Framing papers for the High-Level Panel on Water

Valuing Water

Huw Pohlner, Simon Hone, Will Fargher, and Chris Olszak of Aither identify the state of global practice in valuing water, describe how valuation has been integrated into water management to achieve more efficient, equitable and sustainable outcomes, and provide options to spark global action within an SDG timeframe to improve water management by making more effective use of valuation.
HLPW – Valuing Water (551kb)

Human Settlements

Professor Tony Wong describes how Integrated Water Cycle Management can be used to address emerging global water management challenges to do with urbanisation as populations grow, environments become degraded, climate uncertainty increases, and resources are constrained.
HLPW – Human Settlements (2mb)

Building Resilient Economies and Communities Through the Effective Management of Water Scarcity and Drought

Professor Jane Doolan describes approaches to managing drought and water scarcity for the 40% of the world’s population facing these problems.
HLPW – Building Resilient Economies (913kb)

Gender & SDG 6: The Critical Connection – A Framing Paper for the High-Level Panel on Water (cover)
Gender & SDG 6: The Critical Connection

M. Grant, C. Huggett and J.Willetts explore how Sustainable Development Goal 6 and the High-Level Panel on Water Action Plan can significantly contribute to gender equality in both water resources management and WASH, and by doing so, will contribute to more sustainable and effective water management outcomes for all people, while decreasing the inequalities prevalent in many societies.
HLPW – Gender & SDG6: The Critical Connection (1.1mb)

Guide Series

Urban WaterGuide: A guide for building sustainable and resilient cities

The Australian Government, Australian Water Partnership and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities partnered to develop a framework to improve water outcomes in international cities and towns, based on Australia’s urban water experience. The result is the Urban WaterGuide, which covers water supply, sanitation, drainage, flooding, waterways and urban liveability, with a cross-cutting focus on gender equality and inclusion. The Guide helps decision makers who are responsible for water supply, sanitation, drainage, flood management and managing natural water bodies in cities and towns, by outlining a set of steps that can be adapted to any geography, and can be used at multiple scales.

Urban WaterGuide: A guide for building sustainable and resilient cities

WaterGuide: A Guide to setting a path to improved water resource management and use under scarcity

WaterGuide by H. Pohlner and W. Fargher of Aither, is an organising framework for improved water management and use in response to scarcity. The first edition of WaterGuide was published by the Australian Water Partnership in March 2017 as part of Australia’s contribution to the High Level Panel on Water, and has since been used as the foundation for water policy dialogues with Jordan, Mexico, Senegal and Iran. A newly released second edtion of WaterGuide improves the six-step framework based on its application for these countries, and demonstrates how it can and has been applied to improve water management globally.
  WaterGuide (12.6mb) | Brochure
 «WaterGuide» Руководство по формированию путей к улучшенному управлению водными ресурсами и водопользованию в условиях дефицита воды (Russian Edition) (4.7mb) | Brochure (Russian)

BasinGuide cover
BasinGuide: A Guide to River Basin Planning

BasinGuide is a practical reference for undertaking river basin planning based on Australia’s experience in managing water scarcity. This guide presents seven iterative stages for managing water resources by collaboratively establishing plans and governance arrangements to distribute water resources, resolve water disputes, improve water quality, meet energy needs, mitigate floods and adapt to climate change. BasinGuide is intended to be used at a range of levels of government, from Ministerial to officers designing and implementing policy, as well as at provincial, regional, state and national levels. This guide is also intended to support non-government organisations, community, and stakeholder groups who are integral to achieving successful river basin planning outcomes.
  BasinGuide (4.2mb) | Summary Guide (3.2mb)

WaterTools: A Guide to three national level platforms that support the management of Australia’s scarce water resources (cover)
WaterTools: A Guide to three national level platforms that support the management of Australia’s scarce water resources

This publication showcases three tools that are shaping Australia’s management of its scarce water resources: eWater Source, Digital Earth Australia and streamflow forecasting. WaterTools highlights how these tools support Australia’s approach to evidence-based water policy and management. It allows others to leverage Australia’s experience and expertise in using tools to inform and implement water policy and management solutions.
WaterTools (3.1mb)

Australian Perspective Series

Managing Water for the Environment: An Australian Perspective

This publication offers practical advice for countries seeking to improve management of water for the environment within an SDG timeframe (i.e. by 2030). In many countries, the water demands of agriculture, industry, towns and cities are increasing year on year. As pressure on existing resources and the natural environment increases, water allocation and use decisions must acknowledge the fundamental importance of water for the environment as the basis for system health. This guide sets out elements that can be helpful when establishing or reforming related policies in any jurisdiction based on lessons from Australia and other countries.
  Managing Water for the Environment: An Australian Perspective (7.3mb)

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The Evolution of Water Stewardship: An Australian Perspective

This publication tells the story of a concept catalysed by Australia’s Millenium Drought which eventually develops into a global system for managing water risks and for collaboration between business, government and community. AWS Water Stewardship provides a roadmap for industry,  agriculture and all non-domestic water users to adopt good water stewardship, which seeks to achieve four outcomes: sustainable water balance, good water quality, healthy important water-related areas (ecosystems and cultural sites), and good water governance. The AWS Standard is the only freshwater management standard that meets the requirements of the ISEAL Code of Practice for Good Standard Setting, the global benchmark for credible sustainability standards.
The Evolution of Water Stewardship: An Australian Perspective (14.7mb)

Gender Equality and Goal 6 – The Critical Connection cover
Gender Equality and Goal 6 – The Critical Connection: An Australian Perspective

Gender Equality & Goal 6 – The Critical Connection (1.7mb)

Gender Equality and Goal 6: The Critical Connection (cover)
Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection

Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection expands on the framing paper for the High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW), by Melita Grant and Professor Juliet Willetts of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, and Chelsea Huggett and Jane Wilbur of WaterAid. It includes additional content and delves deeper into Gender Equality and Social Inclusion issues – supporting AWP’s commitment to GESI – and focuses primarily on the HLPW Action Plan’s ‘Water Governance’ and ‘Universal Access to Safe Water and Sanitation’ themes. It identifies key areas of action for the HLPW, and other international development actors and governments, which can contribute to more sustainable and effective water management outcomes for all people while decreasing the inequalities prevalent in many societies. It also provides a range of case studies and outlines the implications for improving policy and practice.
Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection (1.8mb)

Irrigation Water Ordering – With applications for Thailand and surrounding regions: An Australian Perspective (cover)
Irrigation Water Ordering – With applications for Thailand and surrounding regions: An Australian Perspective

This publication describes how the fundamental need for irrigation water at particular times led to the concept of water ordering in Australia. The underlying concepts which make up water ordering are explained using references to the key technologies in the irrigation industry, such as flow rates, and canal and pipe capacity. The report also explores the need for an improved irrigation system in Thailand at the river-basin level. Similar river systems in Australia have been identified, and case studies from these are presented which show how relatively easy modifications to how people use water can lead to major benefits to all irrigators. The case studies would serve as ideal trials for Thailand, with minimal changes in infrastructure.
Irrigation Water Ordering (3.5mb)
การขอใช้น้ำชลประทาน (Thai Edition) (6.8mb)

Environmental Water Management in the Indo-Pacific (cover)
Environmental Water Management in the Indo-Pacific: An Australian Perspective

Nowhere else in the world is there a greater need to address environmental water issues than the Indo-Pacific region. This publication includes a review of current status and threats to freshwater ecosystems across each region in the Indo-Pacific, and the essential ecosystem services they sustain. It also provides an assessment of the demand and awareness across a range of environment water quality and quantity issues and challenges, identifies data and information gaps as well as the opportunities for capacity building and training. Key environmental water quality and quantity issues are also mapped against each region with a particular focus on countries in South-Asia, South-East Asia, East Asia and the Pacific.
Environmental Water Management in the Indo-Pacific (2.8mb)

Rural Water Charging: An Australian Perspective

This publication provides a summary of the key principles and processes followed in the setting of charges for rural water supply schemes across Australia. The aim is to provide an indication of the key steps and elements of the processes followed in Australia, to act as a guideline to help structure the development and implementation of charging regimes for rural water supplies in other countries. It is not intended to provide a prescriptive regime, but instead serves as a starting point to understanding the key issues to consider.
Rural Water Charging (2mb)

Water use efficiency in irrigated agriculture: An Australian Perpective
Water use efficiency in irrigated agriculture: An Australian Perspective

This publication explores the Australian Water Use Efficiency (WUE) journey and provides practical examples of how Australia has improved its WUE. It aims to provide some insights for other countries who are facing water scarcity and the parallel need to increase agricultural productivity. The intensity of any focus on acheiving WUE is driven primarily by water scarcity and growing competition for limited water resources. Without scarcity WUE is often a byproduct of other productivity factors.
Water use efficiency in irrigated agriculture (2.5mb)

Waterway Health Report Cards: An Australian Perspective (cover)
Waterway Health Report Cards: An Australian Perspective

The first waterway health report card was released 20 years ago in south-east Queensland, Australia. This knowledge product provides an overview of how report cards have been developed in Australia since then and outlines the varied objectives, development methodologies, delivery techniques and impact on waterway health that report cards have influenced in Australia. It is intended that this product provides guidance to developing countries in the Indo-Pacific region, and beyond, on how waterway health report cards can assist them in their journey towards sustainable management of water resources and meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Waterway Health Report Cards (4.5mb)

International Bookcase

Political Economy of Water Management and Community Perceptions in the Pacific Island Countries

The purpose of this report is to contextualise the unique characteristics of the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) and identify some roadblocks to achieving universal access to clean water and sanitation.

Political Economy of Water Management and Community Perceptions in the Pacific Island Countries (PDF, 12.5MB)

River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide
River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide

Rivers are celebrated through story and worship in India, some are considered goddesses and declared as nature’s wonder. Despite the importance of rivers and aquifers in India, their management faces critical challenges including water scarcity and competition. River basin planning is an important tool for responding to these challenges. In response to a Government of India request for support in how to go about basin planning, this Guide outlines key stages of river basin planning for practitioners in India. The purpose of this document is to provide an aid to working through the fundamental stages of river basin planning to ensure that the resulting plan meets the requirements of the Water Policy (2012) and CWC Guidelines on IWRM and River Basin Master Plans.
Full Guide (2.9mb)
Summary Guide (4.8mb)
Overview Brochure (760kb)

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Indian River Basin Planning Policy Frameworks: Review and comparison with Australian experience

On the request of the Indian Ministry of Jal Shakti and the World Bank, AWP Partners Alluvium, Access Water management and UTS ISF have been supporting basin planning initiatives in India. As an initial step, the Ministry of Jal Shakti requested a review of river basin planning policy and regulatory frameworks in India to provide the knowledge base to support basin planning, with recommendations on possible policy reform options, including appropriate policy frameworks and related institutional and legal mechanisms to support effective river basin planning and governance. This report documents the findings of the review, with a focus on the Krishna Basin. The report has informed the development of River Basin Planning: An Indian Guide.
Indian River Basin Planning Policy Frameworks (1.5mb)

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Hydrogeology of the Dry Zone, Central Myanmar

Hydrogeology of the Dry Zone – Central Myanmar, is a major study by Dr Leonard Drury, prepared with assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI). The study revises and updates hydrogeological surveys and a drilling program begun in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. It represents an understanding of the groundwater resources of the Dry Zone based on decades of experience from hydrogeologists from Myanmar and Dr Drury’s extensive international experience (read full summary).
English Edition (118mb) | Myanmar Language Edition (112mb)
Map Plate 1 (48mb) | Map Plate 2 (32mb) | Map Plate 3 (71mb)

Briefs and summaries

Community Voices

The Australian Water Partnership commissioned Community Voices to provide Australian insights on the complexity and challenges of water reform from a community perspective. This summary provides an overview of the full publication including the key principles to enhance decision making and build resilient communities by authentic engagement of people whose lives and livelihoods rely on access to water resources.

Community Voices Summary Report (PDF 2026KB)

Urban WaterGuide

The Urban WaterGuide provides practical guidance for city planners, water managers and community leaders wanting to introduce integrated urban water management. The Guide shows how to address urgent water challenges in a way that also delivers the SDGs and enhances resilience and sustainability by:

  • Reducing reliance on rainfall fed water supplies and large-scale infrastructure
  • Incorporating nature-based solutions to improve liveability and sustainability outcomes
  • Delivering equal access to basic services and being inclusive in planning and governance.

Urban WaterGuide Summary (PDF 2.2 MB)

Pumped Storage Hydropower for the Mekong Region

This policy brief summarises key opportunities and lessons from the project to enhance energy policies and supply using pumped-storage for political and government leaders.

Pumped Storage Hydropower for the Mekong Region (PDF 288KB)

Water and Climate Risk in the Asia-Pacific

In the Asia-Pacific region, climate risks are exceptionally high, and impacts are already experienced through water—as drought, flood, or compromised drinking water quality. The Asia-Pacific not only has a high proportion of vulnerable coastal megacities, but it also has significant aquatic biodiversity and millions of people whose livelihoods rely on healthy water systems.

Policy Brief – Water and Climate Risk in the Asia-Pacific (PDF 2.8MB)

Annual and Corporate Reports