Water Journal : Water Journal May 2012
industry news regular features 26 MAY 2012 water The Challenge of Sustainable Water Development in Australia's North Acting Chair of the National Water Commission, Stuart Bunn, has released a position statement calling for Australia to draw on its experience and knowledge to protect and sustain the unique water resources in our north. "Because the diverse hydrological and ecological systems in our north differ so much from other systems, development in northern Australia presents inevitable challenges for water management," he said. "We now have a historic opportunity to make sure that these largely undeveloped water systems support productive and healthy ecosystems, vibrant communities and rich Indigenous cultures." The Commission's position statement outlines five principles to support the sustainable management of water resources as this important region develops. Stuart Bunn explained: "Transparent and inclusive water planning that balances development aspirations with environmental and cultural water requirements will be critical to building community confidence in decisions about how we share resources. Achieving this will require an informed and shared understanding of northern Australia's water resources based on robust science and socio-economic information. The Commission is encouraged that progress is being made in achieving Indigenous access to water through cultural flows and water for economic purposes. It is vital that Indigenous interests in water planning and management continue to advance and are properly recognised." Through strategic investments and partnerships such as the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge Research Hub, the Commission has worked to improve understanding of the area's hydrology, river ecology and water-dependent ecosystems. Recognising that the National Water Initiative (NWI) provides the right framework for managing water resources and is equally applicable to northern Australia, the Commission calls for NWI- consistent water legislation to be enacted in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Stuart Bunn added: "We also acknowledge the importance of collaboration across governments and welcome the establishment of the Northern Australian Ministerial Forum. The Commission believes that Northern Australia's water resources can be developed in an culturally, socially, ecologically and economically sustainable way by pursuing these principles and associated actions." The Position Statement is available on the Commission's website at www.nwc.gov.au New Institute to Lead the Way on Climate Change Research A new research institute at the University of Western Sydney will use world-class facilities to deliver research that will help Australia tackle the impacts of climate change. Opening the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the university's Hawkesbury campus in Richmond recently, Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, said the Gillard Government had invested $40 million to establish the institute, which will transform climate change research in Australia. "These world-class facilities will provide us with the capacity to undertake cutting-edge research on a scale that will help place Australia at the forefront of the response to climate change," Senator Evans said. "The data produced at the Hawkesbury Institute will help determine the impact of climate change on our land and water resources and, in turn, help us shape our response to these challenges. "The facilities at the institute act as a climatic 'time machine' that will give scientists unique access to study the effects of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, changed rainfall patterns and rising temperatures on the environment." Senator Evans added that since 2007, the Education Investment Fund, through which the Hawkesbury Institute has been funded, has provided more than $875 million in research infrastructure funding to higher education institutions, the VET sector and research providers. "The Gillard Government recognises that Australian scientists and researchers -- given the necessary support -- have what it takes to lead the way to a strong economy into the future," Senator Evans said. "The Hawkesbury Institute will act as an international research hub for academics, research students and technical and professional staff collaborating to find solutions to climate change impact. This research will be transformative in our response to climate change." In 2012, the Gillard Government will invest more than $480 million in the University of Western Sydney for research, science, teaching and learning -- an increase of almost $200 million since 2007. This includes $40 million to establish the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment through the Education Investment Fund. The University of Western Sydney also contributed $15 million for the project.
Water Journal July 2012
Water Journal April 2012