Distributional and consumptive water demand impacts of different types of economic growth in two northern Australian river catchments
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Using an extensive array of primary and secondary data, this paper constructs, and then uses water-use-input-output (WIO) models to look at the way in which different types of economic growth affect (a) the incomes and employment of Indigenous and non-Indigenous households and (b) consumptive water demand in both the Daly River (NT), and the Mitchell River (QLD) catchments of northern Australia. Expansion of a sector generally creates larger employment and income benefits for non-Indigenous than Indigenous households. Moreover, expansion of the agricultural sector is associated with significant growth in consumptive water demand – a major concern since underground water resources are limited and dry season flows often rely on underground aquifers. Those interested in closing the (income) gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people without placing scarce water resources at risk may thus need to seek development options that do not solely rely upon the expansion of the water intensive agricultural sector.