The expansion of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) philosophies has given rise to some improvements in decision making. However, the limits of IWRM also need to be recognised.

This paper is used to scrutinise the need for integrated decisions when property rights are already well-defined and tradeable. By using simplified examples from the Australian milieu, we also consider cases where the property rights are less-well defined and trade is not an option. These examples demonstrate that efficient decisions can arise without a superordinate water utility, but the scale of decisions does matter. Similarly, the examples show how IWRM can disguise politically-inspired interventions and this is particularly problematic when measurement is difficult.


Crase, L., Cooper, B., Dollery, B., & Marques, R. (2018). One person’s drain is another’s water supply: Why property rights, scope, measurement and hydrology matter when it comes to Integrated Water Resources Management. Ecological Economics