ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Michael Vanderzee

ILWS Phd Candidate Michael Vanderzee


Socio-ecological impacts of water recovery for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin


Professor Max Finlayson (Principal), Associate Professor Jamie Pittock (ANU) and Dr Jen Bond


Michael Vanderzee, who commenced his PhD in February 2017, has had an extensive career as a senior government policy adviser which, while broadly in Natural Resource Management and the environment, has included 15 years' experience in national and state water policy reform.

Involved at the start of the process to increase environmental flows in Australia, Michael will draw on this experience and knowledge, to undertake a PhD he sees as a "reflection on practice."

He intends to use the three major water recovery programs undertaken in the Murray-Darling Basin since 2002 that he has worked on - the Snowy Water Initiative, the Living Murray Initiative and the Murray Darling Basin Plan - as case studies.

The three water recovery programs have had quite different governance arrangements.  Owned by three governments, Water for Rivers was a stand-alone, specific purpose organisation set to undertake the Snowy River water recovery projects [the Snowy Water Initiative]. The Living Murray Initiative was Commonwealth and State funded with projects put forward by States and accredited for funding through the then Murray-Darling Basin Commission. Implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is primarily a Commonwealth government funded and managed program.

Michael intends to do his thesis by a series of papers. His literature review will examine the history of water recovery for environmental flows. He will then examine the three MDB water recovery programs, at how they have been implemented and how successful they have been, and then examine the socio-ecological implications of each program.

He also intends to look at what lessons there are from the Australian experience and compare them to an international experience to see what lessons there may be for the future in terms of addressing environmental water scarcity in the face of global change i.e. climate change, globalisation, corporate agriculture.


Ward, W. & Vanderzee, M. (2019) Can agencies of different feathers click together? Collaborating for NRM research in North East Victoria. Institute for Land, Water and Society Report nº 125. Albury, NSW: Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University.


Degree in Biological Science (Honours), University of Melbourne

Research Theme

Environmental Water

Campus  Albury


September 2017