AGS320 Water Policy and Management (EM) (8)

This subject is structured in three modules each of three Units. In Module 1, Units 1 to 3 provide the context and introduction to water quantity and quality including trends in water supply, climate change and risks to water resources in Australia. In Module 2, Units 4 to 6 explore water use and demand including the value of water to the environment, irrigation agriculture and urban uses, water use efficiency and recycling. In Module 3, Units 7 to 9 focus on water policy and planning including principles of water reform, current developments in water policy and catchment-based decision-making.

Subject Outlines
Current CSU students can view Subject Outlines for recent sessions. Please note that Subject Outlines and assessment tasks are updated each session.


Session 2 (60)
Wagga Wagga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: AGS320. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences

Enrolment Restrictions

Enrolment is restricted to students in Emergency Management courses.

Incompatible Subjects


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the water cycle including climate change and variability, risks to supply, and interaction of surface and groundwater
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the value of water (quality and quantity) to different users
  • be able to describe key regional, national and international issues
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of the principles of aquatic ecology and allocation of water for the environment
  • be able to explain water use efficiency and management of water in sustainable agriculture (dryland and irrigation)
  • be able to demonstrate an understanding of urban and industrial water use; effluent management and recycling (rural and urban)
  • be able to describe the principal issues underpinning the development of water policy in Australia, future challenges, and roles and responsibilities of government, agencies, communities, industry and individuals
  • be able to describe approaches to integrated catchment management and regional decision-making in Australia


This subject will cover the following topics:

Module 1

Unit 1 
An introduction and overview of trends in water policy and management including:
- pressures (population and changing demography, climate change; land use change; rainfall-runoff relationships)
- status of water (storage, surface and groundwater reserves, new sources of water)
- social, economic and environmental aspects; consumptive use(urban, industry, power, agriculture, mining, tourism); recreation and aesthetics; cultural and indigenous significance; river health and water for the environment
- planning: balancing supply and demand; introduction to policy instruments; sticks and carrots
- audit and status reports - National Land and Water Resources Audit, State of the Environment
- case studies of hotspots and topical issues including Murray Darling Basin, Northern Australia, South East Queensland, Peel Harvey; Gnagara Mound and Yarragadee Aquifer Perth, coastal and estuarine 

Unit 2 
- frameworks for integrating supply and demand; stocks and flows
- hydrological characteristics (seasonality, connectivity, comparison of natural and regulated hydrographs); hydrological variability in Australian inland rivers, especially the Murray-Darling system;
- climate variability and change
- surface and groundwater interaction
- land and water interactions: effects of native vegetation clearing and afforestation on surface and subsurface hydrology and on water quality; risks to water supply in Australia-land use change and climate change
- options for water and catchment management in a holistic context

Unit 3
- salinity, eutrophication, turbidity and suspended particles, trace metals, pesticides, pathogens, endocrine disruptors
- effluents and drainage
- guidelines for drinking, effluents, drainage, environmental protection, irrigation, re-use

Module 2

Unit 4
- river, wetland, floodplain and estuarine condition
- environmental flow
- selection of condition indicators
- monitoring responsibilities
- institutional arrangements and responsibilities

Unit 5
- international food security and export of virtual water
- meaning and assessment of sustainable production in Australia
- responsibilities, planning, incentives, regulation, green labelling
- irrigation water use efficiency;
- property rights and trading

Unit 6
- water for urban use: towns and cities, industry, power, mining
- improved efficiency and water-saving strategies
- new water sources: desalination, rural-urban transfer
- reuse and recycling
- rural effluent management.

Module 3

Unit 7
- roles and responsibilities
- Council of Australian Governments Water Reform Framework
- water for the environment
- water audit and cap
- costing and pricing, property rights and trading

Unit 8
- The National Plan for Water Security
- Labors election plan
- new arrangements for the Murray Darling Basin
- re-emphasis on urban water
- dealing with water scarcity and climate change

Unit 9
- planning frameworks and processes for adaptive management
- principles of catchment care
- tools to support decision making at catchment level: economic, social and environmental considerations; choice modelling, multicriteria analysis, modelling
- best practice case studies.


Current Students

For any enquiries about subject selection or course structure please contact Student Central or or phone on 1800 275 278.

Prospective Students

For further information about Charles Sturt University, or this course offering, please contact info.csu on 1800 275 278 (free call within Australia) or enquire online.

The information contained in the 2018 CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: August 2018. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.