Research and development Bob Swinton
Australia has always been water conscious, being the driest inhabited continent. Together with the challenge of running a huge irrigation industry with declining rainfall, much research and development has taken place. In the 1990s, the government program of co-operative research centres (CRCs) provided a dynamic stimulus, banding together research teams with actual users, such as the water authorities. It was always intended that a CRC would have a limited life, but be replaced by a new research organisation — provided the demand for such an entity was reflected in the commitment of the requisite funds by its ‘customers’ i.e. those keen to benefit from the research. The following lists the principal institutes currently operating: • CSIRO, Land and Water, Water for a Healthy Country Flagship: their programs are summarised separately on pages 16-17. • Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA): The urban water industry’s peak body has established collaborative partnerships with international research entities such as the US Water Environment Research Foundation, the Water Research Foundation and the Global Water Research Coalition. The collaborative partnerships recognise that many water issues are international in scale. • eWater Co-operative Research Centre: Established in July 2005 as a result of a merger between two former co-operative research centres, the CRC for Catchment Hydrology and the CRC for Freshwater Ecology. It is based at the University of Canberra. Its mission is the development and application of uniquely Australian products for integrated catchment management, complete river system management, stormwater quality modelling, urban water management and ecological response management. It also provides commercial tools and professional software, support, training and maintenance services through its commercial software arm, eWater Innovation.
• Water Quality Research Australia (WQRA): Established to succeed the CRC for Water Quality and Treatment, which was terminated on 30 June 2008, WQRA is a not-for-profit public company, owned and funded by its membership, which includes Australian utilities, research organisations, universities, private sector companies and government departments. WQRA undertakes collaborative research, the results of which are to be applied nationally to drinking water quality, recycled water and relevant areas of wastewater management, including the development of methods to measure the effects of water quality on human health. • Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence (AWRCE): Based in Brisbane and launched in March 2010 with a seed donation of $20 million over five years from the Australian government, AWRCE’s role is to help secure water supplies that are less dependent on rainfall. It will enhance the management and use of water recycling nationally and internationally through industry and research partnerships. In 2011, AWRCE invested in a portfolio of industryrelevant research projects across the full water-recycling spectrum, developing practical solutions to secure Australia's future water supply while building awareness and understanding in the community about this precious resource. The aims of this institution are summarised in its four themes: technology; risk management; social, institutional and economic challenges; and sustainability in water recycling. • National Centre of Excellence in Desalination (NCED): The leader and co-ordinater of Australia’s research in desalination technology, NCED is building national capacity and capabilities in desalination with a dual focus on breakthrough fundamental research and applied research, with a goal of delivering meaningful, commercial improvements. Like the AWRCE, it was
Published on Jul 27, 2011
Securing water supplies has never been easy in Australia. Managing the nation’s rivers and water resources has been a learning experience, r...