National Water Initiative

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) initiates, develops and monitors policy reforms that are of national significance and which require cooperative action by Australian governments.

COAG's principal water policy agreement is the National Water Initiative (NWI) —Australia's enduring blueprint for water reform. Through it, governments across Australia agreed on actions to achieve a more cohesive national approach to the way Australia manages, measures, plans for, prices, and trades water.

The NWI was signed at the COAG meeting on 25 June 2004, leading to the establishment of the National Water Commission. The NWI continued a water reform journey that had started in 1994 with the development by COAG of a water reform framework. 

This intergovernmental agreement set out to achieve a nationally compatible market, regulatory and planning based system—one that manages surface and groundwater resources for rural and urban use, and optimises economic, social and environmental outcomes.

It represents a shared commitment by governments to increase the efficiency of Australia's water use, leading to greater certainty for investment and productivity, for rural and urban communities, and for the environment.

Intergovernmental agreement on a National Water Initiative (PDF 347KB) (DOC 204KB)

NWI 10 year anniversary

Ten years on, this intergovernmental agreement has delivered significant benefits to Australia—benefits that have flowed to individual water users, communities, industries and the environment.

decorative swirl depicting different methods of irrigation

NWI objectives

The NWI includes objectives and commitments to specific actions across eight inter-related elements of water management.

map of Australia

NWI assessments

Through its biennial and now triennial assessments, the Commission reports to COAG on progress towards NWI commitments.

National Water Planning Report cover

Other COAG assessments

Information on other delegated assessment responsibilities – Water Management Partnership Agreements, water planning report cards, other performance reports.

Daintree river

Position statements

Position statements issued to inform debate on emerging water issues.

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