The major difference between the two being that one of Western Australia’s key water laws (the elderly Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act 1909 ) has not changed for over 100 years, while Australia’s national leader has been replaced 5 times in the last decade.
(It could be argued that one has not been updated enough and the other waaaaaaaaaaay too much so?)
But the good news for us Western Australians is that water resources management laws (currently managed under six separate acts) are expected to be consolidated into one modernised Water Resources Management Act.
In W.A. all natural water resources are vested in the Crown. The six existing acts which essentially look after our water (regulate the take and use of water, protect waterways, manage drainage and protect public drinking water sources and supply) are as follows:
- Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act 1909
- Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914
- Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947
- Waterways Conservation Act 1976
- Water Agencies (Powers) Act 1984
- Metropolitan Arterial Drainage Act 1982
The idea behind finally getting all these incredibly come-read-me sounding pieces of legislation into one is that water resources management rules will be easier to understand and administer. The other focus is mitigating the risk climate change poses to future water supplies.
In addition the proposed Water Resources Management Act is expected to also:
- help establish new and innovative ways of using water, such as managed aquifer recharge and geothermal technology;
- reduce red tape involved with licensing decisions and trading
Access to water is clearly critical to our community and economy so the new law (assuming it achieves all these things) can’t come soon enough!