Water Law

23 July 2012

This unit of study situates the management of Australia's water resources within an International Law context including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, International Water Law principles and an internationally recognised human right to water.

Water Law examines the ecologically sustainable management of water resources in the context of climate change, with Australia being the driest inhabited continent.

According to the Garnaut Climate Change Review, climate change could halve the productive capacity of the Murray-Darling Basin, which produces one third of Australia's food supply, by 2050.

In May 2012, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority released the controversial Draft Basin Plan which proposes to allocate more water for the environment.

At the same time, the Council of Australian Governments is pursuing a decade long process of water reform to establish a national water trading market by 2014.

Consequently, the unit examines water resource management from the interdisciplinary perspectives of law, science and within the context of broader economic reform and the National Competition Policy framework.

The corporatisation of water utilities and competition in the water service market is also discussed. Key legislation covered includes the Water Act 2007 (Cth), the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) and the Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (NSW).

The unit will be taught by Sydney Law School's Professor of Climate and Environmental Law, Rosemary Lyster.

Professor Lyster is Director of the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law (ACCEL).

In the area of Environmental Law, Rosemary specialises in Energy and Climate Law, Water Law and GMOs and Environmental Law.

She has published two books with Cambridge University Press in the area of Energy and Climate Law.

They are Rosemary Lyster and Adrian Bradbrook Energy Law and the Environment (Cambridge University Press: 2006) and Adrian J. Bradbrook, Rosemary Lyster, Richard L. Ottinger and Wang Xi (eds) The Law of Energy for Sustainable Development (Cambridge University Press: 2005).

Rosemary is also the principal author of Rosemary Lyster, Zada Lipman, Nicola Franklin, Graeme Wiffen, Linda Pearson, Environmental and Planning Law in New South Wales (Federation Press: 2007).

Rosemary is the Energy and Water Special Editor of the Environmental Planning and Law Journal which is the leading environmental law journal in Australia.

Rosemary is a member of the IUCN - The World Conservation Union Commission on Environmental Law, comprising environmental lawyers from around the world.

She is a member of the Commission's Special Working Groups on Water and Wetlands, Energy and Climate Change, and Forests.

Rosemary has an extensive list of publications including books, chapters in books and articles in leading international and domestic law journals.

She is a regular presenter at international and domestic conferences.


Semester 2 Intensive

28-29 September & 5-6 October 2012

Seminar Room 022

Sydney Law School (F10)

Eastern Avenue

University of Sydney NSW 2006


  • 1 x 7,000 Word Essay (80%)
  • Class Participation (20%)

Water Lawis available to study through the following Sydney Law School degree programmes:

Legal practitioners can count this unit of study towards Mandatory Continuing Legal Educaiton (MCLE) or Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Candidates can also enrol in this subject on a Legal Professional Development (LPD), Single Unit Enrolment or Cross-Institutional basis.

Candidates can elect to complete the assessment, claim the MCLE or CPD points and then count the unit towards a degree at a later stage.

Alternatively, candidates can elect not to complete the assessment but still claim the MCLE or CPD points.

For further enquiries or to apply or enrol, please contact the Postgraduate Team.

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 133053175f07294e3c5d022e37020d1a14345526000916550a11193514