In Australia there is a growing awareness that the over-allocation of water entitlements to irrigators needs to be reduced so that environmental flow allocations can be increased. This means that some water will need to be acquired from irrigators and returned to the environment. Most current water reform policies assume that irrigators are solely motivated by profit and will be willing sellers of water, but this might be an untenable approach. Authorities will need to consider new ways of encouraging the participation of irrigators in water reform. The main aim of this research was to identify the non-commercial influences acting on irrigators' behaviour, especially the influence of the values that they hold toward family, land, water, community and lifestyle. The study also aimed to investigate whether it is possible to group irrigators according to these values and then use the groupings to describe how these might affect their willingness to participate in environmental reforms. We clustered the irrigators into three groups with differing orientations; (i) Investors [25%]—profit oriented, (ii) Lifestylers [25%]–lifestyle oriented, (iii) Providers [50%]–family-succession oriented. This research indicates that when designing policy instruments to acquire water for environmental purposes policy-makers should pay more attention to the factors influencing irrigators' decision making, especially non-commercial factors.

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