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Disputes concerning the regulation and use of water in the Murray-Darling Basin have now reached a critical point where extended periods of extreme drought and climate change have forced threats of High Court litigation. Whilst a number of similar threats have been made since settlement, no court has ever made an authoritative judgment on such water disputes. As such, many important questions about the rights of States and their residents to take and use water remain unresolved. Professor Williams and Matthew Lee assess both the genesis and development of water law in Australia in order to provide an explanation of how we have arrived at this current water crisis.