Drought and climate change, changing industry demand, and concerns around environmental sustainability have driven major water policy and management reforms across Australia.

Aither’s advisors have been at the forefront of these reforms, driving the design, analysis and implementation of best practice water policy both in Australia and internationally.

We help design efficient and effective solutions to complex water resource management issues. Our approach is based on sound economic, strategic and policy principles and an intimate appreciation of the water sector at the local, state and national level.


  • Strategy development for early phase policy and program design, including problem definition, scoping objectives and priorities and implementation planning.
  • Water policy development and analysis to identify positions and implement solutions, based on rigorous analysis of the most appropriate policy, regulatory, market and other options for managing specific challenges.
  • Regulatory design and reform of water legislation and rules to ensure fit for purpose and best practice regulatory approaches are adopted.
  • Evaluation and reviews of water sector policies and programs to assess performance and inform improvements over time.
  • Economic appraisal for water policies and programs to support decision-making informed by assessment of costs and benefits, and trade-offs.
  • Governance and institutional design to support transparent and effective decision making, and effective and efficient operation of the water sector.
  • Facilitation and stakeholder engagement skills coupled with deep knowledge of the Australian water sector and best practice water resource management.
  • Monitoring and evaluation frameworks for water resource policies, programs and initiatives.

Selected Project Experience

Review of water governance in the Australian Capital Territory and Region, ACT Government, 2021

Aither undertook a two-part strategic review of water governance arrangements, focusing on whether arrangements are achieving objectives. The review identified multiple issues and opportunities, and Aither developed, tested and refined a preferred governance model and associated reform options, in collaboration with a wide range of water industry and related stakeholders.

Town and city water security definition and diagnostic, Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, 2020

Aither was engaged to develop a definition and diagnostic for reporting on town and city water security across Australia. Aither tested a proof of concept through engagement and trialling, and with support for that, went on to undertake more extensive testing and consultation, and determine an implementation model, and gain national endorsement for the definition and diagnostic.

Social and economic conditions in Basin communities project, Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), 2020.

Aither supported an independent assessment of social and economic conditions in the Basin to inform whole-of-government responses to address changes associated with population, industry and technology across the Basin.

Interim Inspector-General’s Inquiry into the impact of lower inflows on state shares under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (Commonwealth), 2020.

Aither led stakeholder engagement and extensive research to inform the Inspector-General’s Report on the operational and water management impacts of lower inflows in the southern Murray-Darling Basin.

Improving water allocation announcement processes, South Australian Department for Environment and Water (DEW), 2020.

Aither reviewed SA River Murray allocation announcement processes and recommended enhancements to improve water markets transparency and irrigator water literacy across South Australia.

Horizon Scan for the Murray-Darling Basin Office of Compliance, Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), 2021.

Aither provided strategic insights and analysis to inform the Inspector-General’s planning and priorities in managing Basin Plan compliance.

Improving drinking water services for regional and remote SA communities South Australia Council of Social Services (SACOSS) 2020.

Aither recommended improvements to South Australia’s regulatory and policy frameworks for the provision of water services to regional and remote communities based on a scan of best practice frameworks and stakeholder engagement.

Exploring future scenarios to inform strategic planning, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) (WA), 2020.

Aither assessed and defined strategic directions to promote the sustainable use and management of water and environmental resources in Western Australia.

Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for NSW Water Strategies, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), 2021.

Aither developed an overarching and integrated MER framework for the NSW Water Strategy, 12 regional water strategies, two metropolitan water strategies and the NSW Groundwater Strategy. Aither supported future implementation of the framework by supplying an implementation reporting framework and templates for annual reporting.

Victorian Water Register Strategy – Implementation Plan, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), 2019.

Aither partnered with DELWP and the Victorian Water Register partners to develop the Victorian Water Register 10 Year Strategy 2019 – 2028 and implementation plan for actions in the Strategy. Aither’s provided an effective framework to guide the redevelopment, operation and enhancement of the Water Register.

Improving Basin Plan reporting, Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), 2021.

In partnership with Basin States and relevant agencies, Aither reviewed and updated the Murray-Darling’s Basin Plan Schedule 12 Reporting Guidelines supporting more effective reporting and monitoring outcomes.

NSW Government response to the ACCC interim water markets report, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), 2020.

Aither conducted an independent review of the key implications and issues for the New South Wales Government to address and consider arising from the ACCC’s Murray Darling Basin water markets inquiry to inform Government planning and evaluation.

Development of model institutional arrangements for urban water management in Australia, Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, 2019.

In response to the Productivity Commission’s 2017 triennial assessment of the National Water Initiative (NWI), Aither developed a pathway for advancing the urban water sector by identifying priorities and actions with a focus on which entities deliver what functions, and how they work together, in urban water management). Aither also undertook a stocktake of existing institutional arrangements across jurisdictions.

Review of socio-economic neutrality under Murray-Darling Basin Plan, 2017

Aither reviewed policy provisions relating to socio-economic neutrality requirements for further water recovery under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The review informed intergovernmental deliberations relating to the finalisation of Basin Plan implementation activities.

NSW Water Reform Action Plan, 2018

Aither was engaged by the NSW Department of Industry as part of the NSW Water Reform Action Plan to undertake an independent economic analysis of metering options for licensed groundwater and surface water users in NSW. This included analysis of the current extent of water take measurement in NSW and the costs and benefits of various policy options.

Supporting Aboriginal access to water for economic development, 2018

Aither was engaged to support the development of a roadmap for delivering Victoria’s commitment to improve access to water for Traditional Owner and Aboriginal people for economic development. The project included extensive stakeholder engagement to inform advice on options for deploying investment under the roadmap, governance arrangements, guidelines and assessment criteria for funding proposals.