‘In time and with water, everything changes,’ according to Leonardo da Vinci, who worked with Machiavelli on a strategic and ultimately doomed attempt to channel the flow of the Arno. Large-scale water management has had some notable successes in parts of Australia, but as poor practices and climate change put river systems under near-terminal stress, we face irreversible and potentially catastrophic ecological failures. Michael Cathcart, in The Water Dreamers (2009), provides an account of this. Attempts to rectify the ecological degradation of our rivers involve expensive and possibly futile federal policies, opportunism, and the potential for suffering in farming communities. Everything may indeed change in time and with water, but changes in water practices in Australia are particularly fraught.
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, click 'Sign In' in the top left-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.