Skip to content. | Skip to navigation


Personal tools

Journal of Hydrology special issue on water planning issues in Australia

Professor Poh-Ling Tan, IWC lecturer in Water governance and policy and lecturer at Griffith University Law School, has co-published ten articles in a special edition of the Journal of Hydrology, which record findings from the Collaborative Water Planning and Water Planning Tools projects, and the broader implications for others seeking to achieve long term sustainable water use through planning.
Journal of Hydrology special issue on water planning issues in Australia

Prof Poh-Ling Tan, IWC and Griffith Law School lecturer

Since 1994 Australian governments have aimed to achieve long term sustainability of water through planning and the introduction of tradable water entitlements. Planning frameworks are to provide for the sharing of water within a catchment or a defined region and the adaptive management of those surface and groundwater systems. In this continent of highly variable rainfall patterns, one of the main problems was the overuse or overallocation of water. Over the last decade, several reviews of water reform find that significant improvements have been made in water reform, but overallocation is yet to be addressed and that collective ownership of management interventions is needed. 

Key challenges for planners are:

  • understanding the full range of values of the community relating to water use in the context of scarcity
  • building communication methods that engage the community and promote understanding of complex technical information
  • promoting a shared understanding amongst water users and the wider community of sustainable levels of water extraction.

Griffith University and CSIRO brought together a small multi-disciplinary team to collaborate with communities and governments to meet these challenges.  Funded by the National Water Commission from 2008-2010, the Water Planning Tools (WPT) project worked in Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory to develop and trial ‘water planning tools’ that can be adapted to suit a range of conditions. 

The ten articles in this Special Issue of the Journal report on the work of the project, its findings and the broader implications for others seeking to achieve long term sustainable water use through planning.

Dr John Williams, NSW Commissioner for Natural Resources and Founding member of Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, attests that [This research is] worthy of recognition…for the clever and innovative ways in which visual means was used to foster group and community learnings of how hydrology in the landscape works particularly demonstrating the vital linkage between groundwater flows and surface water. The use of visualisation ranged from analogue sand tank participatory demonstrations to 3 dimensional computer simulations and use of pioneering computer visualisation tools. Use of 3 D technology from the game industry proved a useful tool to build up with communities of interest understanding of the interactions between various water use patterns and the impacts on flooding etc on stream condition and groundwater response. Often the simple analogue, sand tank visualisations were just as effective as were the technologically advanced visualisation tools. It depended on the cultural setting and the value sets of the communities and how best to build ownership and trust with the people.


Journal of Hydrology

The articles

The articles are divided into three sections, overview and methodology, case-study discussion, and thematic analysis.

Part 1:  Overview and Methodology

Article 1: 

Deliberative Tools for Meeting the Challenges of Water Planning in Australia.  Poh-Ling Tan,  Kathleen Bowmer and John Mackenzie. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 2-10

Article 2: 

The Value and Limitations of Participatory Action Research Methodology. John Mackenzie, Poh-Ling Tan, Suzanne Hoverman and Claudia Baldwin. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 11-21

Part 2: Case study discussion

Article 3:

Tools to Enhance Public Participation and Confidence in the Development of the Howard East Aquifer Water Plan, Northern Territory. Sue Jackson, Poh-Ling Tan and Sharna Nolan. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 22-2

Article 4:

South Australia’s River Murray Water Planning: Social and cultural values in water planning. Carla Mooney and Poh-Ling Tan. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 29-37

Article 5:

Water planning in the Condamine Alluvium, Queensland: Sharing information and eliciting views in a context of overallocation.   Poh-Ling Tan, Claudia Baldwin, Ian White and Kristal Burry. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 38-46

Article 6:

Methods and Approaches to support Indigenous water planning: An example from Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory, Australia. Suzanne Hoverman and Margaret Ayre. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 47-56

Part 3: Thematic analysis

Article 7:

Principles and Guidelines for Good Practice in Indigenous Engagement in Water Planning. Sue Jackson, Poh Ling Tan, Carla Mooney, Suzanne Hoverman and Ian White. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 57-65,

Article 8:

Transparency and Trade-offs in Water Planning.  Carla Mooney, Claudia Baldwin, Poh-Ling Tan and John Mackenzie, Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 66-73

Article 9: 

How Scientific Knowledge Informs Community's Understanding of Groundwater. Claudia Baldwin, Poh-Ling Tan, Ian White, Suzanne Hoverman and Kristal Burry. Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 74-83

Article 10:

Continued Challenges in the Policy and Legal Framework for Collaborative Water Planning. Poh-Ling Tan, Kathleen Bowmer and Claudia Baldwin, Journal of Hydrology  (2012), pp. 84-91



The Collaborative Water Planning Project (2007-2009) was funded through the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge (TRaCK) research hub which brings together leading tropical river researchers and managers from a group of universities and institutions. TRaCK received major funding for its research through the Australian Government's Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities initiative; the Australian Government's Raising National Water Standards Programme; Land & Water Australia and the Queensland Government's Smart State Innovation Fund. The Water Planning Tools project (2008-2010) was funded by the National Water Commission through its Raising National Water Standards Program which supports the implementation of the National Water Initiative. Over the four year period of the two projects, many Indigenous groups, community members, stakeholders and water planners participated in the research and the researchers thank them for their patience, ideas and generous contribution of their time.







IWC Masters Scholarships



Personal tools