A few weeks ago I had the privilege of facilitating a workshop examining the role of Water Trusts in Australia. The ARRC co-convened the workshop with the Water Trust Alliance*. Water trusts have existed for at least 10 years in Australia, and form part of the institutional landscape for environmental water management. They are similar in purpose to long established models of land trusts, and exist to manage water for, and on behalf of, their members or stakeholders. A well established model in the United States, they provide a mechanism for engaging with the communities in which they operate, whilst providing a rigorous framework for responsibly and accountably managing water assets.
The workshop brought together people from non-government, government, and research organisations with an interest in exploring the role that water trusts can play in the future management of environmental water assets and focused on the following four areas:
1. Describe the water trust models that currently operate in Australia;
2. Identify the advantages and shortcomings of existing water trust models;
3. Understand the challenges, opportunities and capacities of water trusts; and
4. Discuss key features of future regional water trust models that connect government, community and business.
It was a great day with lots of lively conversation and a positive ‘vibe’ which was terrific to be a part of. Mark Siebentritt (Healthy Rivers Australia), Deb Nias (Murray-Darling Wetlands Limited) and colleagues are now going to prepare a paper summarising the issues and opportunities identified in the workshop, so please stay in touch with the ARRC to hear what comes next in the Water Trust story.
If you would like to learn more about the Water Trust Alliance follow this link and scroll down the page the link takes you to, to find more information about this group.
* Water Trust Alliance members are Australian Conservation Foundation, Murray-Darling Association, Murray Darling Wetlands Limited, Nature Foundation of SA, Healthy Rivers Australia, and the Environmental Water Trust established by Nature Conservation Council NSW.