Public Seminar: Water governance in Tasmania – challenges and opportunities

About this seminar

In this seminar, Dr Saideepa (Deepa) Kumar will examine the environmental and economic challenges associated with agriculture irrigation in Tasmania.

Since 2010, fourteen new irrigation schemes have been built in Tasmania, with several more on the cards. The rapid unprecedented expansion of irrigation has created new challenges and opportunities for water governance. As water and land use intensifies, there are greater risks of environmental issues and threats to Tasmania’s ‘clean green’ brand image. Tasmania’s geography favours the development of small schemes based on ‘sustainable’ extraction of winter flows. Smaller schemes make for simpler management, but diversity in environmental and socio-economic conditions can increase management costs across the state. Technologies for measurement and communication enable more monitoring, but declining capacity for local informal governance may increase governance costs. Against this backdrop, what is the scope for collaborative governance arrangements?

Institutional analysts (e.g., Ostrom, 1990) identify common principles of successful collective action but also warn that institutions cannot be designed or imposed, that they evolve in each context by borrowing from existing norms, practices and relationships (e.g., Cleaver, 2002). If we cannot craft institutions based on generic principles, are there preconditions that could be deliberately fostered to nudge the emergence of desirable institutions? How do infrastructure, information and social networks interact to foster or constrain collaboration?


About the speaker

Dr Saideepa (Deepa) Kumar works as a Lecturer in Agricultural Systems at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture. Deepa draws on her diverse experience in water management and governance, systems modelling, social research and Information Technology to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research.

Prior to joining the University of Tasmania, Deepa worked at Charles Sturt University in Albury, NSW, where she taught surface water and groundwater hydrology and management at the School of Environmental Sciences. For her PhD study, she adopted a systems approach to explore the challenges of integrating ecological knowledge and social criteria for managing environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin. Funded by the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour award in 2011, Deepa worked at the International Water Management Institute in India, applying models for evaluating conjunctive management of groundwater and surface water in irrigated areas.

Before making a career change into water management and agricultural systems, Deepa worked as a project manager, consultant, systems analyst and programmer on projects involving the implementation of corporate enterprise-wide financial systems for large organisations in Australia and USA. Deepa also trained as a cost and works accountant.