National water planning report card 2011

15 Dec 2011


The inaugural National Water Planning Report Card 2011 provides a summary of the status of water plans across Australia.

The Report Card is a response to a COAG request for an independent assessment of water planning to inform an objective discussion on the quality of existing water plans, their implementation, and areas for future improvement.

It is one of a number of actions developed by the COAG Water Reform Committee in response to the Commission’s 2009 Second Biennial Assessment of Progress in Implementation of the National Water Initiative (NWI).

The National Water Planning Report Card 2011:

  • shows how all jurisdictions have made progress in the development and implementation of water planning
  • examines the extent to which water planning frameworks and 157 individual water plans include the critical elements of water planning contained in the National Water Initiative (NWI)
  • provides a clear, agreed baseline for future reference and will facilitate a national discussion on the quality of water plans and planning frameworks, areas of better practice and areas for improvement
  • provides improved clarity around the complex and often poorly understood processes for water planning across different jurisdictions.

Key findings

Overall, the Report Card has found a significant increase in the number and quality of water plans across the country. The more recently completed plans show an improvement in the quality of assessment and the clarity of trade-off decisions.

However, the assessment also indicates that there is still room for improvement in addressing interception and environmental water arrangements, as well as compliance and enforcement.

Monitoring and reporting arrangements are not yet developed or implemented to the degree necessary and this means that it can be difficult at times to determine whether water plans are achieving their stated outcomes.

Report structure

The Report Card comprises a national overview of water planning and an explanation of the methodology behind the assessments. It was undertaken as a predominantly desktop assessment designed to accommodate the complexity and diversity of water planning across Australia and still maintain a consistent approach.

In carrying out its review, the Commission assessed all current water plans and water planning frameworks against a consistent set of criteria determined by the COAG Water Reform Committee. The Commission also referred to the NWI and the Draft NWI Policy Guidelines for Water Planning and Management.

In total, the Commission assessed 157 water plan areas, looking at the extent to which key elements of water planning were addressed by each jurisdiction in their water planning frameworks and individual water plans. Evaluation factors included ensuring that content was appropriate and examining the decision making processes used to develop water plans.

Jurisdictional chapters include:

  • the context for water planning
  • how the jurisdiction’s planning instruments address the 12 criteria
  • a set of key findings from the assessments
  • a map of the planning areas
  • individual plan assessments.

The Commission acknowledges the contribution from jurisdictions and recognises that their input and comments have had a significant positive impact on this report.

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