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The irrigation system designed and built by Rubicon at Shepparton uses advanced technology to improve its operation and management.

schemes which, acting in concert, maintain the conductivity (the level of salt content) below 800 milliSiemens per centimetre. Although most Australian cities do not enjoy access to groundwater (some notable exceptions being Perth, Newcastle and Alice Springs), large tracts of the inland do have underlying aquifers (sand, gravel or fractured rock, capable of holding water) and about 30 per cent of water used within them is derived from those underground sources. The most famous aquifer complex is the Great Artesian Basin, underlying large sections of Queensland and New South Wales. A combination of natural springs and manmade bores has seen water levels drop in the Basin, but an ongoing program of bore capping and rehabilitation is gradually restoring the water pressures. Dealing with these and other groundwater challenges has led to the development of a significant pool of talented hydrogeologists. A contemporary challenge to water management, especially groundwater, comes from mining, oil and gas extraction. Up to now, since some mines ‘make’ water while others have a net water demand, mining has only extracted about 3 per cent of all water used nationally. Although as coal-seam gas extraction increases, the impact on groundwater will escalate. The process of extracting gas from coal involves pumping out a large volume of water, which causes the gas to be released. At this stage, only approximate estimates of water extraction can be made, but they are likely to be very significant. As the water is typically quite saline, it cannot simply be discharged; it must either be desalinated, or re-injected into the aquifer from whence it came – not a simple exercise. Understanding and managing all these challenges, together with others mentioned elsewhere in this book, has bred a strong research, consulting and policy establishment in Australia. Many universities conduct water research and the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) has a major unit dubbed Water for a Healthy Country Flagship. The CSIRO, state governments and universities have created two collaborative research ventures: the Urban Water Security Research Alliance in southeast Queensland and the Goyder Institute in Adelaide. There are many expert consulting firms operating in Australia: two of the largest are essentially home grown and the other big ones are part of global businesses. A group of small, niche firms complements the big guns of the major operations. Co-ordination and communication, aimed at more effective operation of the broad water sector, are carried out by several not-for-profit organisations, including the Australian Water Association, Water Services Association of Australia, Irrigation Australia Limited and the Stormwater Industry Association. As a nation dealing effectively with permanently challenging water management issues, Australia is a good model and a worthwhile partner or service provider. This book showcases some of what is on offer.

6 | Securing Australia’s Water Future

Securing Australia's Water Future  

Securing water supplies has never been easy in Australia. Managing the nation’s rivers and water resources has been a learning experience, r...