The National Water Initiative - securing Australia's water future: 2011 assessment

2011 Biennial Assessment

This report is the third biennial assessment of the National Water Initiative (NWI) undertaken by the National Water Commission.

It reviews the extent to which the initiative has improved the sustainable management of Australia's water resources and contributed to the national interest. The assessment also reports on impacts on regional, rural and urban communities.

What did the assessment find?

The NWI remains robust and relevant in 2011 and has delivered significant, tangible benefits for Australia.

The initiative has catalysed substantial improvements in the way Australia manages its water resources, expedited and directed ambitious reforms, and built a national commitment to common objectives.

However, the NWI is yet to fully deliver its intended benefits, including the primary goals of sustainable and efficient water management.

Success requires strong leadership in the face of difficult decisions to balance economic, social and environmental outcomes, and to nourish real engagement with communities. 


Drawing on its findings, the Commission made 12 major recommendations to COAG to reinvigorate the water reform agenda and fully deliver its economic, environmental and social benefits.

Taking into account what has been learned so far, these recommendations address gaps, shortcomings and new issues. They also propose a new suite of incentive mechanisms, together with necessary investments and assessments, to regain and sustain water reform momentum.

How is the assessment structured?

For this assessment, the Commission was required to evaluate the impact of the NWI over the seven years since 2004. In doing so, we assessed the extent to which the NWI has:

  • built strong and effective water management governance arrangements
  • improved the efficiency and productivity of Australian water use
  • improved the sustainability of water management
  • impacted regional, rural and urban communities.

For each of these, key chapter summaries present an overview of the central findings and impacts. PDF downloads of entire chapters are also available.

Documents for download

Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-full_report.pdf Full report PDF (8.92MB) excluding appendices
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-full_report.rtf Full report RTF (5.51MB) excluding appendices

(If you would like to receive a printed copy of the report, email with your mailing address details.)

Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-LetterOfTransmittal.pdf Letter to the Prime Minister PDF (1.88MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-ExecutiveOverview.pdf Executive overview PDF (1001KB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-OurApproach.pdf Our approach PDF (1.25MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-1Governance.pdf Chapter 1 - Governance PDF (2.03MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-2MoreProductiveAndEfficientWaterUse.pdf Chapter 2 - More productive and efficient water use PDF (2.08MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-3SustainableWaterManagement.pdf Chapter 3 - Sustainable water management PDF (1.91MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-4Communities.pdf Chapter 4 - Communities PDF (1.42MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-AppendixA.pdf Appendix A: NRMMC performance indicator report 2011 PDF (2.21MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-AppendixB.pdf Appendix B: Summary of progress on NWI actions PDF (1.91MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-AppendixC.pdf Appendix C: Consultations for this review PDF (870KB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-AppendixD.pdf Appendix D: RSMG model description PDF (1.1MB)
Download 2011-BiennialAssessment-AppendixE2.pdf Appendix E: Murray-Darling Basin trade, market and charge rules PDF (668KB)

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