Programme OS5g Human rights and local
Community perceptions of water quality and current institutional
arrangements in the Great Barrier Reef region of Australia
Author(s): Silva Larson, Samantha Stone-Jovicich
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Townsville 4814 QLD
Phone: +617 4753 8589
Fax: +617 4753 8650
Keyword(s): integrated catchment management; Great Barrier
Reef; perceptions of water; institutional analysis
Session: OS5g Human rights and local
survey on wellbeing in two catchments of the Great Barrier Reef region found that water quality was perceived by
local residents as one of the top five contributors to their wellbeing. A more detailed analysis of local residents’
perceptions reveals “water quality” as a complex, multifaceted concept that is not adequately captured in current
institutional arrangements for water management in Australia.
This paper traces the perceived linkages
between sources of water quality deterioration, impacts on human wellbeing, and the institutions seen as responsible
for dealing with the sources and impacts. This web of linkages, as perceived by residents, is than compared with
current institutional arrangements across different relevant sectors. Matches and mismatches are mapped.
importance of understanding community concerns regarding water quality, to inform cross-sectoral integration of
institutional arrangements for improved water management, is discussed. The implications of the differences between
perceived and “actual” linkages between water quality deterioration, impacts, and institutional responsibilities and
responses, and the role of improved communication of these in enhancing institutional arrangements and sectoral
integration for water management, are also discussed.