Why we need reform
There are a number of challenges that make our current laws outdated – challenges that were not evident when our laws were first developed.
- Water demand has increased significantly and will continue increasing as the population and economy grow.
- There is now greater competition for water.
- With a changing climate, since the 1970s, a 15 per cent reduction in average rainfall in the South West has resulted in a 60 per cent reduction in stream-flows and a reduction in groundwater recharge.
Our current laws, some dating back 100 years, are heavily amended and cannot keep up with our current needs.
We lack the full range of laws needed to manage water resources where use is high and there are many people taking water. This is happening in our most critical resources today.
Our laws unnecessarily slow down water trading and licensing the take of water. This adds administrative and opportunity costs across the economy.
Our laws do not support innovative new approaches to water use, such as managed aquifer recharge or geothermal energy.
Our laws are difficult and expensive to administer so legal and administrative support costs are high.
These things bring risk to government, water users and the environment.
The reforms being proposed help us manage risk in the following ways:
- They give us new and more relevant methods to manage high use resources.
- They enable faster licence decision making and trading, especially in low risk situations.
- They recognise and support new approaches to water use.
- The laws will be consolidated into one Act with all laws being rewritten in a modern style that will be better integrated and easier to administer and interpret.