Water is one of the most important resources in a healthy and well-functioning economy. In addition to its direct role in sustaining life for human, plant, and animal populations, water is a crucial input in many production processes, such as agricultural production, hydroelectricity generation, and many forms of industrial production. To manage the use and allocation of water across these functions, many countries operate a regime of permitting or licensing. These regimes typically involve an administrative body, such as a water regulator or local government authority, issuing a permit which allows its holder to take water from a river, lake, or groundwater resource. For example, in New Zealand, local governments issue water permits to take, use, dam, or divert water from a surface water or groundwater resource. At the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, water users hold water entitlements allowing them to take a certain amount of water from the river system. And in England, the Environment Agency issues abstraction licences to allow for the use of surface water or groundwater.
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