Reasons why some irrigation water users fail to comply with water use regulations: a case study from Queensland, Australia

Greiner, Romy, Fernandes, Leanne, McCartney, Fiona, and Durante, Jeanette (2016) Reasons why some irrigation water users fail to comply with water use regulations: a case study from Queensland, Australia. Land Use Policy, 51. pp. 26-40.

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Abstract

Non-compliance with regulation can be a major reason for policy ineffectiveness. Environmental non-compliance can cause environmental harm and undermine the sustainability of resource uses through, for example, overexploitation of water resources. If environmental non-compliance is identified as an issue, it is important to understand why it is occurring so that the causes can be effectively addressed. This paper reports empirical research conducted to identify the reasons why water users in two coastal irrigation areas in Queensland, Australia, may be taking water in excess of license conditions and thereby committing water theft. It applied the Table-of-Eleven (T11) framework, which distinguishes between 'enforcement dimensions', i.e., regulatory aspects meant to detect and deter non-compliance, and 'spontaneous compliance' dimensions. The research involved 67 water users of whom 24 participated in focus group discussions and 43 in face-to-face interviews. The research findings suggest that most water users are compliant with water rules principally because of strong spontaneous compliance, which is chiefly grounded in the belief that the rules are required to safeguard a common water resource. The research results suggest, however, that some water users may be intentionally taking water in excess of license conditions in order to maximize business profitability. Non-compliance is underpinned by perceived low probability of successful prosecution and a comparatively small penalty if a breach can indeed be proven. From a water management perspective, the findings highlight the critical role of ongoing education and communication efforts for maintaining high levels of spontaneous compliance. Stronger deterrents may be needed to address the intentional unlawful taking of water in the given context, including increasing penalties to ensure fines result in a net cost to offenders and reduction of water entitlements of repeat offenders. Improvements in water administrative processes can minimize the likelihood of offenders escaping a penalty.

Item ID: 41464
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-5754
Keywords: regulation, water allocation, illegal taking of water, systems analysis
Funders: Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Australian Government’s National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement Systems forWater Resource Management
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2015 01:45
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 10%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070199 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management not elsewhere classified @ 40%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070108 Sustainable Agricultural Development @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960913 Water Allocation and Quantification @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960608 Rural Water Evaluation (incl. Water Quality) @ 50%
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