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Water Law and Policy in Australia--An Overview

April 2006

Citation: 36 ELR 10264

Issue: 4

Author: D.E. Fisher

Editor's Summary: Australia is the world's driest continent. Its watersheds collect very little water, and except for Antarctica, it has the lowest level of rainfall of any continent. Land use choices, in addition to the extraction of surface water and groundwater for domestic, industrial, and agricultural purposes, have further exacerbated the nation's water woes. Australia's experience in water law and policy could therefore prove quite instructive as we face the need to better manage our global water resources. In this Article, Prof. Douglas Fisher provides an overview of the development of water law in Australia over the last 215 years from a system that was originally based on principles of common law to one that recognizes and seeks to respond to the international call for sustainability.

Douglas Fisher is a Professor of Law at Queensland University of Technology, and a Consultant with Phillips Fox Lawyers in Brisbane, Australia. He received his M.A., LL.B., and Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. This Article is a shorter and slightly modified version of the text in Douglas E. Fisher, Land, Water, and Irrigation: Hydrological and Legal Relationships in Australia (Part 1), 15 J. Water L. 229-37 (2004), and Douglas E. Fisher, Land, Water, and Irrigation: Hydrological and Legal Relationships in Australia (Part 2), 16 J. Water L. 14-22 (2005). Thanks to Lawtext Publishing Ltd. for permission to reproduce the relevant sections of the text.

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