In this paper, an initial conceptual framework for the development of a performance indication tool for water use in the Great Barrier Reef region is described. The tool is envisaged as a simple, cost-effective and informative tool for indication of the temporal and regional performance. It is intended for use by non-technical target groups, such as the general public and the local government, and is proposed to be presented as an internet-based index. The index is proposed to cover objectives in the areas of physical–chemical, biological and socio-economic primary and secondary aspects of water use and benefits derived from its use. Each aspect is proposed to consist of not more than five indicators. It is clear that this number of indicators cannot provide a full and comprehensive picture of water use and benefits to the region, but rather an overview of the performance trends. To reinforce this understanding, the index results are proposed to be presented as letters rather than absolute numbers, which represent ordinal ‘scores’. This approach would also allow for comparison across a variety of indicators and the units they are measured in. The paper also presents a brief overview of the types of indicators currently used for the assessment of water-related attributes and the methods of their aggregation.
water benefits, index construction, Great Barrier Reef, ordinal scores, performance indicators, water use
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