Drinking water security: The neglected dimension of Australian water reform

Kirsty Howey, Liam Grealy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drinking water security has been a neglected issue in Australian water reform. This article considers Australia’s chief water policy of the past two decades, the National Water Initiative, and its aim to provide healthy, safe, and reliable water supplies. Taking the Northern Territory as a case study, we describe how despite significant policy and research attention, the NWI has failed to ensure drinking water security in Indigenous communities in the NT, where water supply remains largely unregulated. The article describes shortcomings of legislated drinking water protections, the recent history of Commonwealth water policy, and areas where national reforms have not been satisfactorily undertaken in the NT. We aim to highlight key regulatory areas that require greater attention in NT water research and, more specifically, in the Productivity Commission’s ongoing inquiry process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Water Resources
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


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