Law School

Water Resources Reform


Related reading

Lawyer and economist tackle groundwater issues

A Gardner, R Bartlett and J Gray, Water Resources Law (LexisNexis, 2009)

M Hartley & L Butterly, The role of law in the management of Groundwater in WA

C McKay and A Gardner, “Legal eagles keen to improve water accounting"

Key publications from NCGRT research

A Gardner, R Blakers and M Hartley, “Legal Scenarios for Integrated Modeling”, (2014) 17(1) Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law and Policy 1-42.

J Lee and A Gardner, “A peek around Kevin’s Corner: Adapting Away Substantive Limits?”, (2014) 31 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 247-250 

M Bennett and A Gardner, “How do environmental conservation laws interact with environmental aspects of water laws?”, (2014) 31(1) Environmental and Planning Law Journal 3-10. 

M Hartley, “Regulating for groundwater-use efficiency: A toolbox approach based on the experiences of three disparate jurisdictions”, (2014) 31 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 92. 

A Gardner, “Mining Access to Water Resources – Traditions and Developing Principles” [2013] AMPLA Yearbook 306, and the delivery of similar presentations at the University of New England Law School and the University of Southern Queensland (June 2014) – link to recording.

C McKay and A Gardner, “Water Accounting Information and Confidentiality in Australia”, (2013) 41(1) Federal Law Review 127 – 162. 

A Foerster, “The Murray-Darling Basin Plan 2012: An Environmentally Sustainable Level of Tradeoff”, presented at the ANU Water Law and Policy Conference, Dec 2012; published (2013) 16(1) Australasian Journal of Natural Resources Law & Policy 41-60.

N Sommer and A Gardner, “Environmental Securities in the Mining Industry: a legal framework for Western Australia”, (2012) 31(3) Australian Resources and Energy Law Journal 242-262. 

A Gardner, “The Legal Protection of Ramsar Wetlands: Australian Reforms”, paper presented to the 2009 Annual Colloquium of IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in Wuhan, China, and published in the conference proceedings, P Martin et al (eds), Environmental Governance and Sustainability,Edward Elgar, 2012. 

R Nelson, “Regulating Nonpoint Source Pollution in the US: A Regulatory Theory Approach to Lessons and Research Paths for Australia”, (2011) 35(2) UWA Law Review 340 – 384.

L Butterly, Keeping the Engine Room Running: Key Themes and Developments in Water Resources Management in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia, (2012)

Professor Alex Gardner led the Law School's water resources law research with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training and now leads our participation in the Co-operative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.


Regulating mining water use and impacts in Ghana: Comparing Australian and Ghanaian Law for Reform Ideas

Alex Gardner, Nick Duff, Kweku Ainuson and Samuel Manteaw

This report, completed on 31 July 2015, is the product of a collaborative and comparative study of the key materials that regulate mining industry use of and impacts on water resources in Australia and Ghana for the purpose of generating reform ideas for Ghana. It has sought to derive some key principles of the relevant Australian regulation (based mainly on Western Australian law) and to ask whether those principles may convey some useful ideas to assist in developing and reforming the regulatory relationship between mining and water in Ghana.

Summary and Full Report

Nick Duff and Alex Gardner presented initial ideas for the project at an Executive Education workshop on Mining Law and Governance in Ghana, organised by Dr Jill Howieson (UWA Law School) in conjunction with Dr Ainuson and Dr Manteaw.










From left, they are Dr Samuel Manteaw, Alex Gardner, Nick Duff, Dr Jill Howieson, Maame Abenaa Agyekum, Dr Kweku Ainuson in at the University of Ghana Law School, March 2015

National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT)A Gardner and M Hartley photograph

Professor Alex Gardner led the Faculty of Law's involvement in the interdisciplinary National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training , which received $55 million of Commonwealth Government Funding over the period July 2009 - June 2014.

Professor Gardner and Winthrop Professor David Pannell (ARC Federation Fellow), School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, were two of the Chief Investigators in Program 5: Integrating Socioeconomics, Policy and Decision Support, which was led by Professor Tony Jakeman of the Australian National University.

Sub-program 5C focused on policy, institutional, law and governance issues.

Key Research Activities

Michael Bennett
Research Assistant, May 2013 - May 2014. Michael is now undertaking a PhD under the supervision of Alex and David Hodgkinson.
Project: Groundwater Regulation in a Drying South West

Natalie Brown
PhD candidate
since May 2013
Project: Pilbara iron ore mine dewatering

Madeleine Hartley
PhD candidate
June 2010 - July 2014
Madeleine’s thesis was passed with minor revisions in July 2014. The brief abstract reads:

‘Improving water use efficiency (WUE) is increasingly being recognised as a remedy to the challenges that groundwater resources face from growing populations and climate uncertainty. The best way to regulate for WUE is by enacting a ‘toolbox’ of measures that aim to increase WUE while limiting consumptive use to sustainable limits. This helps ensure that sustainable development (SD) is advanced as the end goal of increased WUE. The thesis analyses legal approaches to integrated WUE and SD measures through three case studies: Colorado (United States of America); the Namoi Valley (New South Wales); and the Gnangara Mound (Western Australia).’

During her PhD, Madeleine undertook a period of exchange study at the Sturm College of Law, University of Denver (August 2011 – August 2012), published three articles and made presentations in 2013 at a national and an international conference.”
Project: Program 5: Integrating Socio-economics, Policy and Decision Support

Other Research Activities

Besides these key research activities, there were numerous other smaller projects undertaken by Alex with contracted researchers and research assistants, and by LLB honours students under Alex’s supervision. The four Bachelor of Laws Honours students' published theses are:

Amy Preston-Sampson (2010), “Navigating muddy waters: Does the High Court have a role in adjudicating interstate river disputes?”, published in (2012) 29 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 373-400 – Amy was supervised by Dr Jim Thomson

Natascha Sommer (2011), “Mine Dewatering in the Pilbara: A Legal Framework for Managing the Cumulative Impacts on Environmental Values and Indigenous Interests”, published in (2012) 31 Australian Resources and Energy Law Journal 65

Sarah Robertson (2011), “A Regulatory Framework for Monitoring and Enforcing Water Access Rights in Western Australia”, published in (2014) 37(2) UWAL Rev 215-242

Jessica Lee (2013), “Theory to practice: Adaptive management of the groundwater impacts of Australian mining projects”, (2014) 31 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 251-287

Water Sensitive Cities (CRC-WSC)

The aim of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities is to revolutionise water management by delivering urban water policies, socio-technical solutions and education and training programs, along with active engagement with industry and community.

UWA, Monash University and the University of Queensland will lead the nine-year $120 million nation-wide project with research support from the UWA Faculties of: Engineering, Computing and Mathematics; Science; Architecture; Landscape and Visual Arts; Law; and the Schools of Humanities and Population Health.  The international collaboration involves 74 participating bodies, including organisations from afar a field as The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Singapore.

Research Activities

Project: Project A3.2: Better Regulatory Frameworks for Water Sensitive Cities.

Here is a special opportunity to be a postgraduate legal researcher with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, Project A3.2, Better Regulatory Frameworks for Water Sensitive Cities.  The position will be based at the UWA Law School under the supervision of Alex Gardner.

In 2013-14, the Alex Gardner and his co-researchers at the UWA Law School have published the following two papers as part of their work on Project A3.2.

  • “Managed aquifer recharge using alternative water sources in Western Australia: a new property rights approach”, K Vincent & A Gardner, (2014) 23 Australian Property Law 36-55.
  • “Regulatory Renovation for managed aquifer recharge of alternative water sources – a Western Australian perspective”, M Bennett, A Gardner & K Vincent, (2014) 24 Water Law 5-14 ISSN: 1478-5277.”