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Statutory regional water plans in Australia as a means to share valuable water resources among competing uses.

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The COAG process in 1994 required that the states produce water plans for regions and reduce allocations to achieve ESD and hence the water planners have been made sustainable development water policy entrepreneurs by statute. Accordingly, this case study is based upon an online survey with key water planners working towards achieving Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) in relation to water planning and allocation decisions.

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Environmental Flows as key to informed decision-making over water allocations – linking up to eFlowNet

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IUCN, in collaboration with a consortium of partners, has led development of the Global Environmental Flows Network (eFlowNet). This portal brings together scientists, policy makers and water basin managers to work towards accelerating uptake of environmental flows as a standard tool to enhance informed, equitable and sustainable decision making in water management. It is a ready-made platform for outreach to other sectors, learning and knowledge exchange, and participation that feeds into decision making processes. This experience helps build a support base across diverse groups and organisations from local to global communities that can improve our understanding of ecological fragility. In particular, eFlowNet helps inform decisions about investments, and build the social and environmental resilience needed for water infrastructure projects to succeed.

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Ecosystem response modelling of rivers and floodplains

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Environmental flows have been traditionally determined from comparison of reference conditions, either in the same river prior to regulation, or to a reference river under similar climatic conditions. Given the large changes that rivers have been experiencing under river management, regulation and with climate change, a more quantitative assemement of impacts on river flows and ecology is called for. In large rivers with large floodplains it is important to model the spatial and temporal nature of river flows and floods. Modelling ecosystem response to changes in hydrology using spatially and temporally explicit models provides a detailed tool for prediction of managment options. In the lower River Murray in Australia a floodplain inundation model has been built and linked to ecosystem response models. These models have been used to identifiy future outcomes for the ecosystem and to identify and prioritise investments in river management for economic, social and environmental benefits.

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eFlowNet: a global network to manage environmental flows in the water/food/energy nexus

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This portal brings together scientists, policy makers and water basin managers to work towards accelerating uptake of environmental flows as a standard tool in water infrastructure development and operation. It is a ready-made platform for outreach to other sectors, learning and knowledge exchange. Other platforms have been convened for multiple stakeholder participation that feed into decision making processes over water, food and energy. This experience helps build a support base across diverse groups and organisations from local to global communities that can improve our understanding of ecological fragility. In particular, eFlowNet helps inform decisions about investments, and build the social and environmental resilience needed for water infrastructure projects to succeed.

Environmental flows as a management tool is vital for the water/food/energy nexus: they are the quantity, quality and timing of water flows in regulated rivers required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and economic development that depends on these ecosystems. Environmental flows are effectively a balance between the need to protect freshwater-dependent ecosystems and water ressources development.

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