A false expectation based on the notion that it is easy to raise water use efficiency, and that all increases in water use efficiency will also increase net social welfare, will lead to gross underestimation of the economic impact of reduced irrigation allocations in the Murray-Darling Basin. A conventional benefit:cost analysis of policy options founded on an understanding of biophysical processes, sound accounting principles, a knowledge of the appropriate response functions and the economics of best operating conditions will reduce the potential for government failure. Some myths, pitfalls and traps for the unwary analyst or policy maker are outlined.


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