There are a number of forums and initiatives that direct and contribute to water management at the national level:
Council of Australian Governments
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association. The role of the COAG is to develop and monitor the implementation of policy reforms that are of national significance, including water policy. COAG has released a number of communiqués dealing with national water reform and policy.
National Water Initiative
The NSW Government is a partner in the National Water Initiative (NWI) endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in June 2004. The NSW Government prepared its NSW NWI Implementation Plan (PDF 658 KB) containing specific actions for implementing the eight key elements of the NWI. The plan was accredited by the National Water Commission on 18 August 2006.
Australian Water Accounting Standards
The NWI identified the need for a consistent and standardised approach to water resource accounting, resulting in a decision to treat water accounting as a discipline comparable to that of financial accounting. The Exposure Draft of the Australian Water Accounting Standards was developed by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) to define the structure for a General Purpose Water Accounting Report.
Water for the Future
The Commonwealth Government is investing $12.9 billion over ten years from 2008 to improve the security of water supplies and provide additional water for the environment through infrastructure projects, the purchase of water licences, and desalinisation, greywater and rainwater initiatives.
Murray-Darling Basin reforms
The vast majority of inland NSW is within the Murray-Darling Basin. On 3 July 2008 COAG signed the Intergovernmental Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin reforms. This provided for the establishment of an independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority to oversee the management of the Basin's water resources.
The Authority finalised the Basin Plan which came into effect in November 2012. The Basin Plan sets the rules for the management of water resources within the Basin at a strategic level. The Basin Plan establishes limits on water extractions for each catchment and groundwater area in the Murray-Darling Basin. These arrangements are enacted through the Commonwealth Water Act 2007. Schedule 1 of this Act contains the Murray-Darling Agreement which sets the sharing provisions between the states for Murray River water. The Basin Plan and associated documents are available from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority website.
View the NSW Government position on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The Living Murray and Snowy Initiatives
Under these initiatives, the NSW government in cooperation with the Commonwealth and other State Governments have committed substantial funding and resources to improve the health of these river systems by returning additional water to the rivers. For more information go to the section on water recovery projects.