A new CEDA draft discussion paper released today, Crisis and opportunity: Lessons of Australian water reform aims to drive debate around water reform to ensure we learn from the mistakes of the devastating drought from 1996 to 2009.
CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon Stephen Martin said volume I of CEDA's joint collaboration with Harvard University and Uniwater (a joint venture of Monash and Melbourne Universities), the Australian Water Project, draws together 14 contributions from experts to look at different aspects of Australian water reform including environmental, economic, agricultural and technological water management issues.
"CEDA has chosen to examine water reform because few issues are as fundamental to maintaining a robust economy than access to clean fresh water," he said
"While Australia is a world leader in water reform and came through the drought relatively well given it's severity and duration, we need to examine how water managers and markets withstood the environmental challenge and how we can do things better in the future.
"The discussion paper looks at areas where water management failed the stress test of the drought. In particular, how effectively the Water Act 2007 achieved a balance between environmental and community water needs, and our planning frameworks which were unprepared to cope with the severity of the drought."
Professor Martin said the release of the publication would be followed by a series of public workshops across Australia early next year.
"These workshops will help identify and inform a series of priorities and recommendations for future reform to be included in volume II to be released later next year," he said.
"Australia is known for its climate variability and with predictions of more severe patterns of flood and drought due to climate change, it is vital we get water reform right."
The discussion paper was launched at an event in Melbourne today from 11:30am.