When there are issues of common concern in water management across jurisdictions, governments may enter into formal intergovernmental agreements. These agreements between governments can be multilateral (between state governments and the Commonwealth) or bilateral (between states, or between state and Commonwealth).
Agreements may include the funding of water management programs, or projects to better understand water resources and the environment dependent on water resources. Intergovernmental agreements may also cover aspects of sharing benefits and issues relating to water resources including flooding, groundwater, water sharing, and water and environmental degradation. Intergovernmental bodies may also be established to oversee, study, or recommend water initiatives to share or protect common water resources.
Intergovernmental agreements relating to water management include:
- New South Wales-Queensland Border Rivers Intergovernmental Agreement 2008
- Intergovernment Agreement for the Paroo River between New South Wales and Queensland 2003
- Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray Darling Basin Reform 2008
- Intergovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative
- Intergovernmental Agreement on a National Water Initiative Biennial Assessments
New South Wales – Queensland Border Rivers Intergovernmental Agreement 2008
The implementation of COAG water reforms, the National Water Initiative and the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement necessitated an additional agreement between New South Wales and Queensland.
While recognising the sovereignty of each state to manage the water resources within its own territory, the New South Wales - Queensland Border Rivers Intergovernmental Agreement 2008 (PDF 672 KB) has been established to give direction for the sustainable management and sharing of water in the Border Rivers catchment including:
- environmental flow management on those streams that are shared between the states
- formalising water sharing between the States and between users and the environment
- formalising water access arrangements
- provision of adequate flows to the Darling Basin downstream of Mungindi, and
- interstate trading of water entitlements.
The implementation of the agreement is overseen by the Border Standing Committee whose membership comprises senior officers from the water and environment agencies of both states.
The states acknowledge that nothing in the agreement is intended to affect the role, functions and powers of the Border Rivers Commission.
Intergovernment Agreement for the Paroo River between New South Wales and Queensland 2003
The Paroo River agreement between New South Wales and Queensland in 2003 was reached after a joint recognition of the significance of the water resources in the Paroo River system to maintain the unique character of the Paroo catchment.
The ecological diversity, economic and spiritual connection values have all been recognised and the Paroo is widely accepted as one of the few unregulated and relatively undeveloped rivers in the Murray-Darling system.
The agreement, in place since 2003, provided a useful cross-border strategic water commitment, influencing the substance and nature of subsequent water planning and management decisions for both states.
The Paroo River Intergovernmental Agreement (PDF 689 KB) put limits on any further water extraction for the river system.
Review of Paroo agreement
The Review of the Intergovernment Agreement for the Paroo River (PDF 1.17 MB) found that the agreement has provided direction for planning and investment decisions across the catchment. The review recommends that the agreement continue in its current form for the remainder of its ten year term.