Meeting Indigenous peoples' objectives in environmental flow assessments: Case studies from an Australian multi-jurisdictional water sharing initiative

Sue Jackson, Carmel Pollino, Kirsten Maclean, Rosalind Bark, Bradley Moggridge

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The multi-dimensional relationships that Indigenous peoples have with water are only recently gaining recognition in water policy and management activities. Although Australian water policy stipulates that the native title interests of Indigenous peoples and their social, cultural and spiritual objectives be included in water plans, improved rates of Indigenous access to water have been slow to eventuate, particularly in those regions where the water resource is fully developed or allocated. Experimentation in techniques and approaches to both identify and determine Indigenous water requirements will be needed if environmental assessment processes and water sharing plans are to explicitly account for Indigenous water values. Drawing on two multidisciplinary case studies conducted in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin, we engage Indigenous communities to (i) understand their values and explore the application of methods to derive water requirements to meet those values; (ii) assess the impact of alternative water planning scenarios designed to address over-allocation to irrigation; and (iii) define additional volumes of water and potential works needed to meet identified Indigenous requirements. We provide a framework where Indigenous values can be identified and certain water needs quantified and advance a methodology to integrate Indigenous social, cultural and environmental objectives into environmental flow assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-151
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date31 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Cultural water values
  • Environmental flows
  • Indigenous values
  • Murray-Darling Basin
  • Social assessment

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