Accounting and accountability for Australian groundwater resources

Edward Tello

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Purpose – This paper explores whether the potential application of Standardised Water Accounting (SWA), reflected in the Exposure Draft of Australian Water Accounting Standard 1 (ED AWAS 1), to report on groundwater resources will enhance the practice and accountability of groundwater managers. Effective and efficient water management is an essential element in alleviating water crises caused by misuse of water resources, and groundwater management poses many unique challenges. Groundwater accounting and accountability was one of the key issues identified during the course of the ‘Water Accounting Project’ that the researcher undertook from 2008 to 2009. Design/methodology/approach – The paper develops theoretical framework of accountability in three main components: clarity of relationship, transparency and power, drawing on the work of Gray et al. (1996), Roberts (2009), Joannides (2012), Shaoul et al. (2012) and Smyth (2012) (among others). This framework is used to analyse groundwater accounting at two Australian government departments with responsibility for groundwater management and accounting, namely the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources of South Australia (former Department of Water) and the New South Wales Office of Water. Data was gathered mainly from interviews, also from informal conversations with personnel from both locations and from public documents. Five people were interviewed once and three people were interviewed twice (the latter is described in Section 5 as follow-ups). Findings – In analysing whether or not future groundwater reports prepared under SWA will discharge the accountability of water managers, it was found a priori that they will not. This assumption was made after analysing all data from the case studies based on the integrated accountability model discussed by the researcher.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventAustralasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research Conference (11th : 2012) - Wollongong, NSW
Duration: 2 Dec 20124 Dec 2012


ConferenceAustralasian Centre on Social and Environmental Accounting Research Conference (11th : 2012)
CityWollongong, NSW


  • water
  • groundwater
  • water accounting
  • social and environmental accounting
  • Australia


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