A Water Story

Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future

September 2020
More details
  • Publisher
    CSIRO Publishing
  • Published
    24th September 2020
  • ISBN 9781486311293
  • Language English
  • Pages 304 pp.
  • Size 6" x 9"
  • Images 34 color plates, 11 illus, 34 photos

Freshwater scarcity is a critical challenge, with social, economic, political and environmental consequences. Water crises in Australia have already led to severe restrictions being applied in cities, drought ravaging farmlands, and the near-terminal decline of some rivers and wetlands.

A Water Story provides an account of Australian water management practices, set against important historical precedents and the contemporary experience of other countries. It describes the nature and distribution of the country's natural water resources, management of these resources by Indigenous Australians, the development of urban water supply, and support for pastoral activities and agricultural irrigation, with the aid of case studies and anecdotes. This is followed by discussion of the environmental consequences and current challenges of water management, including food supply, energy and climate change, along with options for ensuring sustainable, adequate high-quality water supplies for a growing population.

A Water Story is an important resource for water professionals and those with an interest in water and the environment and related issues, as well as students and the wider community.


  • A comprehensive and engaging account of water use in Australia, from Ancient Australia to today
  • Examines environmental, social, economic consequences of water management in Australia
  • Includes a variety of case studies showing both our water use successes and blunders, and lessons learned throughout history
  • Explores the critical issues confronting us in the early twenty-first century, and actions needed to safeguard our water future
  • Illustrated throughout with photographs and line drawings including a color plates section

Challenges and opportunities
1: Water and the earliest civilisations
2: Water use across the Roman Empire
3: Some basics about Earth’s water
4: Water supplies for the First Fleet colonists
5: The search for water inland
6: Aboriginal Australia
7: The Great Artesian Basin
8: Groundwater: more than the GAB
9: Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre and its basin
10: The golden pipeline
11: Adding water to the land: irrigation
12: Dams and reservoirs: storing water
Colour plates
13: The Murray–Darling Basin
14: Saving the Murray–Darling Basin?
15: Water for cities, towns and farms
16: Living with scarcity
17: Facing the future
Appendix 1: Case Study: South Australia's long-term water plan

Geoff Beeson

Geoff Beeson is an independent researcher with a long-held interest in water use and management. He has a background in science and a PhD in science education. He was formerly a professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor at Deakin University. He has worked in several countries and has travelled widely throughout Australia and overseas observing developments in water management practices, both ancient and modern.