The value of water in a drying climate.

The value of water in a drying climate. Tor Hundloe, Christine Crawford.

Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing, 2012. Octavo, softcover.

Disputes over water allocations are, second to climate change, the dominant environmental and public policy issues of the present era. We are called upon to resolve such controversies using the principles of sustainable development, which integrates ecology, economics and ethics. This timely book establishes a template for all types of resource allocation disputes, whether in Australia or overseas. An expert team of ecologists, economists and sustainability experts spent three years interviewing people in the Little Swanport catchment, seeking answers to the optimal allocation of water on the Tasmanian East Coast. The hinterland of this area produces some of the most valuable merino wool in the world, the estuary grows mouth-watering oysters, and much of the land is in near-pristine condition, providing very valuable biodiversity resources. The book is written in an easy-to-read style and gradually evolves to become the story of everyday life of one small Australian catchment. It is about people living in rural settings in the upper catchment with soils and rainfall suitable for farming; people residing in coastal settlements in the lower catchment; people working and relaxing in the estuary where fishing and aquaculture occur; and people and their business in adjacent towns. Critical questions throughout the book are: Are we making the best use of water? How do we judge this? Are there trade-offs between upstream and downstream water use? What are these and how are they resolved?

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