Managing Drought: Learning from Australia

Published: February 2016
Authors: Andrea Turner, Stuart White, Joanne Chong, Mary Ann Dickinson, Heather Cooley, and Kristina Donnelly
Pages: 93

Full Report



Australia survived its decades-long Millennium Drought by demonstrating world-leading innovation in water planning and management. This report provides an overview of key events and initiatives implemented in Australia’s four largest cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. It shows that strategies developed and mistakes made during the Millennium Drought provide a powerful resource for California as the state deals with its own prolonged periods of severe drought. The report was released by the Pacific Institute in partnership with researchers at the Institute for Sustainable Futures and the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

Key Findings


On top of successes in urban water efficiency, other key findings in the report include:

  • Broad community involvement across sectors – households, business, industry and government – fosters a sense of fairness and collaboration in saving water.
  • Clear, credible communication about the drought situation and response is needed to maximize public participation and support.
  • Innovative water-pricing mechanisms, not employed during Australia’s Millennium Drought, could be used to incentivize water savings in California.


Managing Drought: Learning from Australia