Purchasing Water to Create Sustainable Systems: Where Does this Leave the Regulatory Approach?
12th Annual Environmental Research Event, Noosa Queensland
8 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2009
Date Written: May 11, 2009
Prolonged drought and climate change uncertainty has made a sustainable balance between uses of water much more urgent. Previous strategies have revolved around regulatory approaches to reduce the consumptive pool, and leave more water in the rivers for the environment. These approaches have had limited success. Increased emphasis is now placed on purchasing entitlements from irrigators for environmental water. This paper reviews the events and policies which have driven this process and identifies what role the regulatory approach is now expected to play in achieving sustainable water uses. We suggest that the regulatory approach suffers as a result of a cycle of ‘decision deferment’ and consequently offers diminishing value. However, the water purchasing plan may equally limit the likelihood of ensuring adequate wet water to protect key environmental sites during critical periods. A suggested expansion of the water purchasing programme is therefore provided.
Keywords: path dependency, water trade, buyback
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