Water policy, trust and governance in the Murray-Darling Basin

Margaret Alston, Kerri Whittenbury, Deb Western, Aaron Gosling

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Concerns for river health in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) area and shifting priorities for water use have led to a significant process of water reform over the last decade. The MDB area, also known as the food bowl of Australia, produces much of the country s food and is home to a significant portion of the population. A long-term drought, historical over-allocation of water for irrigation and climate variability have led to mounting concerns about the long-term viability of the rivers. While the reform process has resulted in the Commonwealth government taking control of the rivers from the States, it has also been influenced by changes in governments and consequent shifts in water allocation priorities from a privileging of agriculture to a broader approach encompassing economic, environmental and social concerns. This had led to uncertainty for the people and communities in the Basin and some confusion between the various layers of governance structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Water reform
  • governance
  • trust
  • environment
  • river health

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