Water is a vital resource for human health, economic development and environmental quality. Over the past three decades, OECD Member countries have made major strides in the management of their water resources. Increasingly, however, water is coming back onto the policy agenda. Persistent water quality problems, the need for heavy investments in water delivery and treatment infrastructure, and growing competition for finite supplies are forcing greater attention on the mix of policies needed to achieve efficient and effective integrated water resources management.
The integrated management of water resources is not a new concept. The notion of "integration", however, is evolving. Greater emphasis is being given to the full recognition of the water needs of the environment in pricing policies, allocation decisions and institutional reform. There is also a growing number of examples of the integration of a wider range of stakeholders, including the private sector and local communities, in water resources planning and management.
This report presents the discussions and conclusions of the OECD workshop on sustainable water consumption, which was held in Sydney, Australia (10-12 February 1997). Drawing on examples from OECD Member countries and selected countries from the Asia-Pacific, it examines progress made on a range of key water policy issues and examines some of the more innovative attempts to put into practice a wider vision of integration.