Water and Inland Aquatic Environments


The Australian Greens believe that:

1. Access to clean and adequate water is fundamental to life.

2. All Australians should be guaranteed a minimum supply of water to meet basic human needs regardless of their ability to pay.

3. Australia's freshwater resources are coming under increasing pressure as a result of growing human demands, environmental degradation and the climate crisis.

4. The health of Australia's catchments, rivers, wetlands, groundwater systems and estuaries underpins the health of our environment, communities, agriculture and industry.

5. We have a responsibility to monitor, restore and protect Australia's rivers and freshwater environments as part of our natural heritage and future prosperity.

6. As a scarce and fluctuating resource, Australia's major water supplies must be publicly owned and managed through a system of regulated water allocations.

7. Water efficiency and recycling measures must be considered before expensive, environmentally damaging or greenhouse gas intensive water management strategies.

8. The knowledges and cultural practices of First Nations peoples must be considered in the implementation of water catchment planning and management.


The Australian Greens want:

1. Legislation and regulations that protect our catchments, rivers, wetlands, estuaries and groundwater systems, including a permanent prohibition on new large-scale dams on Australian rivers.

2. The monitoring and reporting of water quality to ensure that Australian drinking water consistently meets or exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) and National Drinking Water standards.

3. The inclusion of sustainable water use as a compulsory element of planning in Commonwealth, State or Territory water reform legislation and agreements, including for new developments, mining, infrastructure and agricultural projects.

4. National research and planning to address the impact of the climate crisis on our catchments, rivers, wetlands, estuaries and groundwater systems.

5. The public ownership and control of major water infrastructure systems.

6. States and territories to adopt targets for a reduction in water consumption and an increase in recycling and reuse.

7. Increased public awareness of the benefits and safety of recycled water.

8. A comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) system of reserves for Australia's unique and high conservation value freshwater ecosystems.

9. Restricted extraction from groundwater systems unless an independent hydrogeological assessment verifies that recharge rates will not be exceeded and such extraction would be sustainable.

10. Water allocations that are ecologically appropriate and based on best available scientific analysis of the hydrological systems involved (both surface water and groundwater) and which are subject to regular review.

11. The reinstatement of the National Water Commission to provide expertise on the health of Australia's water infrastructure.

12. Integrated national catchment management to ensure sufficient environmental water flows in all catchments.

13. The planning and management of the equitable use of Murray-Darling Basin water resources, that limits extraction to environmentally sustainable levels, maintains the health and resilience of the river and its ecosystems, and supports sustainable food production and rural enterprises for the long-term viability and well-being of basin communities.

14. The return of water to environmental flows through improved water efficiency measures for irrigated agriculture and the buyback of water entitlements in severely degraded and over-allocated systems.

15. Incorporation of First Nations Peoples' leadership, knowledge and practices in integrated catchment planning and management. Recognition of First Nations Peoples' water rights including allocation of water for cultural flows.

16. Rigorous environmental impact assessments, prior to commencement, for schemes involving reinsertion of wastewater into an aquifer.

17. Action to address threats to Australia's freshwater systems, such as land clearance, erosion, sedimentation, pollution and mining, including unconventional gas.

18. Comprehensive minimum water efficiency standards for new buildings and industries, as well as new domestic and commercial appliances.

19. The adoption by States, Territories and Local Governments of water sensitive urban design principles and methods for both new and existing development and infrastructure.

(Water and Inland Aquatic Environments Policy as amended by Special National Conference August 2020.)