In 2011 and 2012, CEDA released two publications as part of The Australian Water Project - a joint project by CEDA, Harvard University and UniWater (a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Monash University).

Australia's climate is one of the most uncertain in the world and has been consistently punctuated by severe droughts. The water crises arising from these droughts has promoted successive periods of water reform. As a consequence, Australia is recognised as a world leader in water policy by both rich and poor arid countries.

Without the droughts and crises, water reform in Australia would not have achieved what it has. But reform has not finished. The stress test of the recent drought has highlighted numerous failures in water policy. Without examining the results of this drought, Australia will be doomed to repeat costly mistakes in water policy.

In 2010, the formation of The Australian Water Project (AWP) was announced. A joint project by CEDA, Harvard University and UniWater (a venture between the University Melbourne and Monash University). The project will conduct independent analyses into Australia's water shortages and policy solutions.


Volume 2, of the Australian Water Project was released on 17 October 2012 in Melbourne.

The final installment in CEDA's Australian Water Project, The opportunity of crisis:  A water reform agenda, includes key recommendations around agricultural, environmental and urban water use.

The initial discussion paper, Volume 1, entitled Crisis and Opportunity: Lessons in Australian water management contains the views of a range of water experts reviewing the historical context of Australia's water reforms and examining their consequences. Released on 22 November 2011, it provides a critical independent review of the performance of the Australian reforms under the stress test of the recent drought.


Following the release of Volume 1, a series of trustee-only events were held in March in  AdelaideSydneyBrisbane, and Melbourne to engage water policy experts, including the authors, CEDA's Water Panel and CEDA Trustees.

Additional chapters

Three additional chapters were commissioned as part of the AWP and released in October 2012.

Hidden promise, hidden perils

Rebecca Nelson

The role of science and values in
setting sustainable diversion limits

Sharon Davis and Dominic Skinner

Insuring Australia's cities against drought

Nathan Taylor


Watch videos from The Australian Water Project





The Australian Water Project is a CEDA-Harvard-Uniwater Initiative

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The Australian Water Project was supported by CEDA member MHW.


Other recent CEDA research