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Water management policy and legislation

​Australia faces major challenges in ensuring sustainable water supply in the face of a drying climate and growing demand for water. In response, the Australian Government provides national leadership in water policy and legislation reform for all Australians.

Australia is at the leading edge in its approach to water resource management. Through legislation such as the Water Act 2007 and policy reform agendas such as the National Water Initiative, the Australian Government aims to continue the water reform journey, ensuring best practice water resource management.

Water legislation in Australia

Water legislation administered by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources includes:

  • Water Act 2007
  • Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards Act 2005
  • Water Regulations 2008
  • water charge and water market rules.

What drives water reform in Australia

A number of Australian Government councils have a role in helping to drive Australia’s water reform agenda.

Council of Australian Governments water reform

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has a role in water policy reforms which require cooperative action by Australian governments.

National Water Initiative

The National Water Initiative is the principal water​ policy agreement that provides Australia’s national blueprint for water reform.

Independent review of the Water Act 2007

The Water Act underwent its first statutory review in 2014, in accordance with section 253 of the Water Act 2007.

See the Report of the Independent Review of the Water Act 2007 for further information.

Water Management Partnership Agreements

The Commonwealth and Murray-Darling Basin States cooperate on water projects and actions for water reform under Water Management Partnership Agreements.

Water agencies and stakeholders

Community input is an important part of government decisions on water, and the Australian Government engages with stakeholders through local, national and international forums.

The Australian Water Partnership was established through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in May 2015 to share Australia’s water sector expertise in the Indo-Pacific Region. The Partnership helps international partners strengthen their water expertise and provides opportunities for engagement in regional water issues.