Narromine and Warren shires are reliant on a water-dependent economy, which is impacted by both water policy and climate change. The prospect of future water reduction under the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan, on top of existing buybacks and climate change projections, prompted the local shires to develop an adaptation plan to prepare for a future with less water.
To develop this adaptation plan, an intensive community based adaptation approach was taken. Firstly, a vulnerability assessment analysed potential impacts of water reduction on local production, the economy and community. Potential and existing adaptive efforts were then reviewed with local stakeholders to identify existing internal mechanisms which might address future challenges. Finally, a series of agreed actions were proposed to address socio-economic challenges to the region and local assets and services vulnerabilities of the councils. Throughout the planning process it was found that central to the development of strategies to address these challenges, was an understanding of the roles of the lead agents in adaptation planning. Defining the role of local government was crucial because it revealed important internal attributes, including: the extent of local capacity to address change; the bounds of local responsibility; adaptive areas which required external resourcing; and allowed a more realistic scope of work to be formed. For Lower Macquarie Valley shires, councils were found to play a primary role in maintaining and improving existing local assets and services and a secondary role in assisting advocacy to influence external policies and draw resources to the affected local communities and industries.