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During the past 15 years in New South Wales (NSW), recommendations in relation to catchment and water management policy have been progressively made by regionally-based committees with government and community representation. This represents a shift in responsibility for decision-shaping from being mainly dominated by government to a government-community partnership. It has resulted in the need to reassess the ways in which scientific findings and technical information are communicated to, and understood by, members of these committees to achieve sustainable outcomes. Two examples from the 2001-2002 water sharing planning process in NSW under the Water Management Act 2000 are compared, with a particular focus on the issues affecting water use. New approaches are outlined for the communication of scientific information to community-based decision-shapers. These include the tailoring of information to enhance members' understanding of the causal link between decisions and environmental outcomes and the incorporation of environmental costs and benefits in socio-economic evaluations of water use in coastal NSW.

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