by Anita Kelleher
This article provides a statistical update of Australia’s water situation including data on usage, consumption, and volume supplied, and some recent developments in water policy, science and technology that might assist in managing the nation’s future water supply challenges. The prevailing 20th century water paradigm is then contrasted with some emerging perspectives that might herald a shift in Australian thinking about water, a shift that could influence behavioural change and begin to answer some of the water demand challenges the nation faces in the 21st century. Causal Layered Analysis (CLA)1, is used to briefly examine the way water has been valued and measured, and the systems and worldviews that have influenced the past Australian human-water relationship. The same framework is then used to explore emerging perspectives on water, providing contrast between 20th century and emergent thought and debate. I conclude that these more recent perspectives, some with old foundations, are signs of a shift in water values and ethics and that Australia is crafting new stories, forming new worldviews, creating new systems and technologies, and developing new measures of success for its water futures.