- Author assessment of available information to determine state grades and trends
- Assessments for all components are somewhat comparable to the 2011 assessments
Understanding of context: There is good understanding within management of surface water resources in the context of ecosystem functions and environmental values and understanding of groundwater in this context is increasing. Regular national water resource accounting and reporting are providing core contextual information.
Understanding: There is reasonable accounting of water resources across jurisdictions, and this is improving through water information initiatives with the Bureau of Meteorology. There is an improving picture of where overallocation is occurring, but with limited quantification of environmental flow requirements
Planning: The Murray–Darling Basin Plan is in place, as are many regional water management plans. Disaggregation of National Water Initiative (NWI) responsibilities and machinery-of-government changes have raised the potential for diminished commitment to the NWI reform agenda. New major policies include consideration of water and the aquatic environment
Planning: Although progress towards the objectives of the NWI has been somewhat limited, there is strong evidence that the principles are increasingly reflected in water resource planning and decisions. Water resource planning is not yet meeting NWI targets, and consultations with key stakeholders are uneven. The commissioning of regional studies of sustainable yield in advance of potential developments in northern Australia and Tasmania is positive. In fast-expanding urban areas, consideration and integration of innovations in urban water management are still poor
Inputs: Capacity in state and territory agencies for monitoring and implementation has diminished, and future financial support for Water Act 2007 (Cwlth) requirements are not confirmed. A Bioregional
Assessment Programme is in place to address impacts of coal-seam gas and large coalmines on water resources
Inputs: Large financial resources have been made available for recovery of water for the environment, particularly in the Murray–Darling Basin. Resources available for community-based water management and monitoring have decreased
Processes: Commonwealth, state/territory, regional and local water resource development has governance, stakeholder engagement and oversight processes.
Implementation of these varies in accordance with priorities and available inputs
Processes: Ongoing commitment to restoring environmental flows in previously overallocated systems is substantial
Outputs and outcomes: Moderate assessment of outputs is being undertaken, with some examples of positive environmental outcomes now becoming apparent
Outputs and outcomes: Recent decisions on proposed developments of new water resources reflect increasingly effective consideration of NWI principles, but the full objective of the NWI will not be met on the agreed timetable. The final outcomes of the Murray–Darling Basin Plan will be a crucial and difficult test of these principles and commitment
Understanding of context: Understanding of the ecosystem functions in this context is reasonable to good, although variable around spatial, temporal and cumulative impacts, particularly with regard to tropical and groundwater aquatic environments.
Understanding: There is a reasonable understanding of the types and sources of pollution and their environmental impacts. Most of these impacts are the legacy of historical land-use change and planning
Planning: Water quality objectives across different scales and jurisdictions, and responsibility for achieving these, are moderately clear. Co-management to meet combined water quality and quantity objectives is limited
Planning: There is relatively poor national coordination of programs to improve water quality, and poor integration with the management of environmental flows and abstraction
Inputs: Resources for implementation of water quality management have been diminishing in some areas, as have monitoring and integrated water quality assessment information. Issue-focused and region-focussed programs provide specific information to support management decision making.
Inputs: The present level and approach to investment in improving catchment-scale water quality do not generally match requirements to meet water quality guidelines. Fewer resources are available to redress water quality issues than for the parallel issue of environmental flows
Processes: There is significant variability in engagement, implementation and monitoring processes for management of land-use and water quality improvement, without effective high-level frameworks to provide
consistency and impetus
Processes: National community-based programs to improve catchment health have diminished since the previous State of the Environment report, without any substantial and effective alternative in place at a national scale
Outputs and outcomes: Improvements in land-use practices directed towards water quality outcomes are occurring at a range of levels in different areas
Outputs and outcomes: Australia has achieved good control over point-source pollution. There are few local examples of programs to control diffuse pollution delivering significantly improved water quality outcomes at the catchment scale
Understanding of context: New regionalised climate change projections, and associated information on impacts and adaptation provide nationally standardised and consistent information for managers and policy-makers. Implications are broadly and reasonably well understood.
Understanding: The potential implications are broadly and reasonably well understood; climate forecasts are becoming more confident in direction (e.g. warmer and drier in south) but still have significant uncertainties in the magnitude and timing of change
Planning: Climate and water outlooks over a range of future timeframes are available and used in planning across some areas. Responsibilities for water resource management
responses to climate are generally clear
Planning: Source and supply planning for metropolitan water utilities is now based on best available climate science and reflects movement towards sources that do not depend on climate. Water resource planning increasingly takes into account climate projections, but many water resource plans are structured in ways that maintain the security of water entitlements over environmental flows
Inputs: There are more online resources and fewer human resources to interpret and integrate climate science into adaptation responses, especially with regard to groundwater and surface-water responses across different regions
Inputs: Support for good science to underpin adaptation is being maintained or increased. The full cost and scale of adapting water policy and management to this challenge are, however, still uncertain
Processes: Good governance and management systems exist for engagement, implementation and reporting on adaptation responses to climate variability and climate change
Processes: Jurisdictions are effectively incorporating climate forecasts into water supply planning
Outputs and outcomes: Inland water management actions to account for climate change and climate variability have been taken and reported variously across
the country. There is limited to moderate evidence of positive ecosystem outcomes to date
Outputs and outcomes: Water policy and management are largely staying abreast of the climate challenge as it unfolds, with most metropolitan water suppliers now anticipating a greater fraction of demand being met by sources that are not sensitive to climate and by demand management
Understanding of context: There is good understanding nationally of the context of pests and invasive species in the aquatic environment, with good awareness of emerging threats.
Understanding: There is good national and regional awareness of threats from weeds and pests, including potential new invasive species
Planning: Policy and planning for management of significant pests operate well nationally and are well coordinated
Planning: Planning for managing and monitoring significant threats is good and nationally coordinated
Inputs: Resources are not available to fully manage existing and emerging aquatic pests at a national scale. Resources are effectively engaged on priority pests and
Inputs: The potential costs of effective control on such a large scale are enormous. With present technology, resourcing will never be sufficient to eradicate threats
Processes: Good and well-coordinated processes are available, including those for stakeholder engagement, governance and management coordination
Processes: There is excellent national coordination and a strong commitment to effective biosecurity across jurisdictions
Outputs and outcomes: Management actions have produced clear on-ground outputs, with priority pest and invasive species being addressed at local scales. There are some demonstrable ecosystem outcomes in some areas
Outputs and outcomes: There has been some local success in limiting or eliminating some invasive weeds
NWI = National Water Initiative