International Commission on Irrigation & Drainage Commission Interationale des Irrigation et du Drainage

Australian Country Paper: Integrated Approaches to Irrigation Management in the Future
Author: Irrigation Australia's Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (IACID)
Year: 2022,
Type: NC Publication, Format: PDF
Australia is the driest inhabited continent. Our use of water in irrigation has reaped great rewards in terms of the development of rural industries, the growth of the economy and the modernisation of Australia. Water resource policies since European Settlement were, like those relating to other resources, focused on promoting economic and population growth, and creating jobs. The formative years of irrigation in Australia were in the 19th Century and the major irrigation developments occurred initially in the Murray-Darling Basin, where the conditions were the most conducive to such development. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a dramatic increase in irrigation development both in the Murray Darling Basin and elsewhere as governments attempted to overcome a natural water scarcity. Drought was always of concern. Australia has now moved well away from the economic/social development thinking, attitudes and actions which underpinned Australia’s use of water since European settlement. It has become clear that this previous approach did not serve Australia well from a sustainability perspective. Over the past 25+ years there has been a dramatic change in the way water is managed, both as a resource and in irrigation. Perhaps the most dramatic of these changes was the 1995 Cap on Diversions in the Murray Darling Basin. Climate Change is also impacting water management policy and use through reduced water availability, greater variability of rainfall and increased periods of drought. The recognition that the environment is entitled to primary access to water, together with other structural reforms such as the unlinking of water licenses from specific land holdings and the related capacity to trade, has dramatically changed the way water is valued and used in Australia. Government action to redress over-allocation of the water resource, particularly for irrigation, is an important component of Australia's commitment to water reform, the National Water Initiative (NWI). This Paper provides a brief overview of integration and innovation of irrigation (and water) management in contemporary Australia

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