Groundwater Regulation in a Drying South West

150 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2014

See all articles by Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett

The University of Western Australia Law School

Alex W. Gardner

The University of Western Australia Law School

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

The South West of Western Australia – which we define broadly to include an area stretching from Geraldton to Albany – has experienced significant challenges from a drying climate over recent decades. The scientific evidence suggests that this drying climate is linked to human-induced climate change, and that further drying is likely as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase. The drying climate is already having very serious consequences for water resources management.

While steps clearly need to be taken to reduce emissions, this Report focuses on adaptation of water resources management, especially in relation to the future of groundwater management and regulation in the South West. This is an important issue, given that groundwater makes up around three quarters of all water used in the South West and supports important environmental assets, including internationally recognized wetlands. The Report analyses existing legislation in the light of academic commentary, government reports and case studies and recommends a series of regulatory reforms designed to adapt groundwater management to a drying climate.

The Report has two key aims: to contribute to the debate on new water resource management legislation proposed for Western Australia, and to contribute to the scholarship on ‘climate adaptation law’ pertaining to water resource management. In doing so, we are conscious of the value of the South West of Western Australia as a 'field laboratory' of climate change adaptation.

Our research suggests that while Western Australia’s groundwater resources have in many respects been well managed, this management could be improved by a more modern regulatory framework that is better suited to keeping groundwater extraction within sustainable limits in a drying climate. We hope this report can make a modest contribution to achieving that outcome.

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Michael and Gardner, Alex W., Groundwater Regulation in a Drying South West (2014). UWA Faculty of Law Research Paper 2014-42, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2413373 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2413373

Michael Bennett (Contact Author)

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

Alex W. Gardner

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

M253
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009
Australia

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