Multi-jurisdictional Water governance in Australia: Muddle or Model?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


From a certain angle of vision, management of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) may appear a hopeless muddle, riven by seemingly intractable conflicts between competing interests, punctuated by a series of compromises that seem to leave all parties dissatisfied. From another perspective, the MDB regime stands out as an attractive and innovative model of integrated multi-jurisdictional water resources governance. Like the MDB, North America's Colorado River and Laurentian Great Lakes are critically important freshwater systems in multi-jurisdictional settings. The Colorado River is governed by 'The Law of the River,' a multilayered set of legal arrangements that have proven durable, albeit inflexible and in important respects dysfunctional. Straddling an international boundary between two federal systems, the Great Lakes are governed primarily through bilateral agreements between the United States and Canada that express laudably ambitious goals but frequently fall short of aspirations, in part because they fail to effectively integrate subnational actors (particularly the U.S. states) into the governance regime. This chapter critically examines the governance regimes of the North American examples and then draws comparisons among all three systems, concluding that while not without its flaws, the MDB is arguably the most advanced along several key dimensions of multi-jurisdictional water resources governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReforming Water Law and Governance
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Stagnation to Innovation in Australia
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789811089770
ISBN (Print)9789811089763
StatePublished - Apr 27 2018

Bibliographical note

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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018. All Rights Reserved.


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