New book compares French and Australian groundwater policies

A new book authored by Professor Cameron Holley (UNSW), Jean-Daniel Rinaudo (French Geological Survey), Steve Barnett (SA Dept for Environment, Water & Natural Resources) and Marielle Montginoul (University of Montpellier) explores the groundwater management policies and planning tools used in both France and Australia, and how they may inform and benefit their peers in other countries.

Sustainable Groundwater Management: A Comparative Analysis of French and Australian Policies and Implications to Other Countries is the result of a professional visit to Australia in November 2015 by Jean-Daniel Rinaudo, who had the opportunity to meet with Cameron Holley, Steve Barnett and other colleagues in Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney to discuss many aspects of groundwater management. During the enthusiastic and productive exchanges that took place during this visit, it soon became clear that management policies and planning tools in both France and Australia were based on similar foundations and that continuing to share knowledge and experience would be mutually beneficial.

A year later, after the IAH International Congress in Montpellier (France) in September 2016, the colleagues met again for a two-day workshop that brought together 30 French and 13 Australian experts, all directly involved in the management and planning of groundwater resources. For many participants, this workshop offered the opportunity to share the results of several decades of personal experience for the first time and to engage with their peers from the other side of the world. Each delegation had the opportunity to report their views of each other’s management model in a game called ‘report of bewilderment’. The main finding was that, reassuringly, French and Australian water managers employ similar approaches to solve similar problems using similar technology. But it was also the realisation of the existence of fundamental philosophical differences, of a ‘clash of civilizations’. This was mostly apparent on the subject of ownership of water use rights, where the French rejected the idea of water markets, while the Australians expressed a polite perplexity regarding the collective management of water allocation to existing water users

At the conclusion of the workshop, many participants agreed to contribute to an edited book to ensure that the management approaches and techniques discussed therein may inform and benefit their peers, groundwater managers from other countries and future generations. A collective work project was thus submitted to Ariel Dinar, who strongly encouraged the project. The group was extended to include several academic and professional experts from Australia, France and other nations in order to meet the requirements of an academic publication and to extend the coverage of the book.

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