Water markets and the sustainability of rural communities: community members' views

Edwards, J., Bjornlund, H., and Cheers, B. (2008) Water markets and the sustainability of rural communities: community members' views. In: Proceedings of Water Down Under 2008. pp. 959-968. From: Water Down Under 2008, 14-17 April 2008, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

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The Murray Darling Basin (MDB) is central to Australian agricultural production and therefore to the sustainability of the rural communities in its catchments. Excessive water extraction from the MDB is threatening its ecology, however. Water markets are a policy instrument designed to protect the river system. The premise is that water markets will facilitate structural adjustment in the agricultural sector by directing water away from inefficient users who produce low-value commodities to those who use water parsimoniously and who produce commodities with high commercial returns. Little is known, however, about how communities regard the operation of water markets. This paper reports the concerns of residents of one community that has seen a significant volume of its water traded away. While residents concede water trading has economic benefits for individuals, they fear that it erodes the long-term sustainability of their community. Water trading, they believe, will see declining numbers of family farms and will thus accentuate population loss. This, in turn, they argue lead to a contraction of the local economy, leading to diminishing employment opportunities. These factors in turn lead to a weakening of the social fabric of the community. Population loss, according to our respondents, makes it harder for local clubs and organisations to function effectively, making the community less viable in the long-term. The secondary data available do not offer unequivocal support for these views. However, more recent census data is required to adequately assess the accuracy of community members' viewpoints.

Item ID: 29482
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-85825-735-1
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Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2014 00:03
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0599 Other Environmental Sciences > 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 20%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960999 Land and Water Management of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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