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In this article we discuss the application of strategic planning tools in the Australian water industry and a framework for assessing the sustainability of new investments in water cycle management. Created in a research project partly funded by the Water Services Association of Australia, the Sustainability Framework is based on taking the best of current strategic planning and sustainability assessment approaches, including appropriate levels of interaction with public and government stakeholders. It embraces recent developments in the application of life cycle assessment and other information tools. The intent is to deliver a guide which provides for both analytical and participatory aspects of sustainability assessment.