Field Trial of the AWS Standard with the Australian Dairy Industry in Goulburn Broken

This field report captures the findings of an extensive trial of a water stewardship standard in the Australian dairy industry. The trial evaluated the water performance of Tatura Milk Industries and its suppliers, as well as the indirect water use of 280 dairy farms in the Shepparton Irrigation Region. The water stewardship standard trialled was later published as the AWS Standard in 2014.

Size: 3.4 MB
Published: 1 December 2012

A field trial in the Goulburn Broken catchment of Victoria, Australia has helped to establish water stewardship as a viable tool for meeting customer expectations, promoting best practice and engaging major water users in natural resource management.

Water Stewardship Australia undertook the trial of its world-leading water stewardship standard in cooperation with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Dairy Australia and Tatura Milk Industries.

Learning from the trial has already been incorporated in a new international water stewardship standard that was launched earlier this month at a meeting of the United Nations CEO Water Mandate in Mumbai, India.

Secretary of Water Stewardship Australia, Michael Spencer, said the field trial undertaken in the Goulburn Broken with the CMA, Dairy Australia and Tatura Milk had played an important role in validating the concept.

We were able to show in the Goulburn Broken that water stewardship could be a tool for meeting the emerging requirement of global multi-national and national customers that their suppliers use natural resources, including water, responsibly. The trial showed that water stewardship could work with existing systems and tools to promote best management practice in a way that avoided duplication and unnecessary additional compliance costs for well-managed suppliers. This will be an important if we are to encourage smaller primary producers to participate in these programs in a way that rewards best practice through recognition and securing market access.

Michael Spencer, Water Stewardship Australia

This field trial also showed that water stewardship can be an important tool for engaging major water users in natural resource management issues within a catchment leading to improved governance and catchment management.

The trial was supported by the MDBA who were interested in whether a program such as water stewardship could reward the uptake of best management practices. The Goulburn Broken CMA was interested in whether it could contribute to achieving catchment strategy goals.  Dairy Australia and Tatura Milk were interested in how the trial could contribute to enhancement of industry sustainability goals.

An aerial view of the Goulburn Broken river in Nagambie VIC, Australia.
An aerial view of the Goulburn Broken river in Nagambie VIC, Australia. Image by Adobe Stock / Nicholas Faramaz
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