International Groundwater protection: An Australian perspective

Maureen Papas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Groundwater is stored deep beneath the surface in reserves called underground aquifers. Groundwater serves the basic needs of more than one-half of the world's population. It also plays a major role in meeting domestic and irrigation demands. However despite these demands this freshwater resource has been relatively under-represented in international law. More than a decade ago the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) sought to address this shortcoming resulting in the drafting of the 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. However, this treaty is still not in force. The ever-increasing competition for the availability of freshwater in general, and groundwater supplies in particular, points to the need for the appropriate regulation of these valuable resources. This article will briefly set out the importance of groundwater and the current framework of legal protection. It will then consider the types of groundwater resources recognised within the scope of the UN Convention. Finally the article will analyse the domestic legal regime regulating the Australian Great Artesian Basin and the challenges to the effective management of a shared aquifer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Water Law
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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