The Policy Challenge of Matching Environmental Water to Ecological Need
In recent years there has been almost universal acceptance of the principle that, if we wish to ensure the long-term utility of our water resources, we need to support the ecosystem that sustains those resources. We also generally acknowledge that these ecosystems are threatened (to varying degrees) by the consumptive use of water and the management regimes and infrastructure established to support that use. A balance needs to be struck that supports the human use of water but manages the risk to the ecosystem. The risk can be reduced through changes to infrastructure, the pattern of demand, and the return of some water from human use to sustaining the ecosystem. This chapter concentrates mainly on the last of these.