Welcome to our GWI June newsletter
 
The Welcome to Country at the 11th Symposium on Tastes, Odours and Algal Toxins in Water, hosted by UNSW
 
Welcome to our GWI June Newsletter
 
There have been many activities to report on over the last two months, including the launch of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) Oceania Chapter at the World Water Congress in Cancun, Mexico – with the Chapter to be hosted by GWI. Richard Kingsford has been very active, from breaking new ground in the protection of the Okavango Basin in Botswana to the telling results of 30 years of waterbird data in the Murray-Darling Basin. David Waite expands on the growing GWI collaboration with Beijing Origin Water while Greg Leslie and Fiona Johnson initiate PLuS Alliance projects respectively in the Mekong (arsenic pollution) and Nepal (innovative irrigation systems).
 
 We are also delighted to profile our extensive groundwater research capability via the Connected Waters Initiative along with the launch of the new advanced biogeochemical and nanoparticle laboratory led by Dennis O'Carroll. Our PhD student story comes from Valeria Almedia Lima studying semipermeable membranes for subsurface irrigation in our UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology.
 
For me personally, this edition coincides with my departure from GWI to take up the reigns at the Australian Water Partnership commencing 3 July – I wish all our readers and GWI members the best for the future!

Professor Nick Schofield
Director, UNSW-GWI
 
   News
 
Lake Eyre Basin waterbirds
30-year study of Murray-Darling Basin wetlands reveals impact of dams
 
A landmark 30 year study led by UNSW-GWI's Professor Richard Kingsford has found that construction of dams and diversion of water from the Murray-Darling Basin have led to a more than 70 percent decline in waterbird numbers. The team found that river flows and waterbird numbers were closely linked, indicating reduced water flow due to dam construction and water diversion for irrigation was the primary reason for the long-term declines in waterbirds in the Murray-Darling Basin.
 
Read more
 
 
GWI launches IWRA Oceania chapter
GWI launches IWRA Oceania Chapter
 
On 2 June 2017 at the XVI World Water Congress in Cancun, Mexico, GWI and the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) signed a MoU to launch the IWRA Oceania Chapter. IWRA is a global network of water experts who are passionate about protecting the world's water resources. IWRA has commenced establishing regional Chapters to enhance networking amongst regional members and to support regionally-based activities, and the vision of GWI - to be a leader in interdisciplinary research and education leading to global impact - is well aligned to IWRA, making GWI a natural choice to lead the Oceania Chapter.
 
Read more
 
 
AWA visit to WRL
GWI impresses at Ozwater'17
 
GWI was out in force at Ozwater’17, held on 16-19 May at the International Convention Centre, Sydney. Known as ‘Australia’s International Water Conference’, Ozwater is organised annually by the Australian Water Association and is made up of presentations, workshops, case studies, and an extensive open trade exhibition. The breadth and depth of GWI’s expertise was evident throughout the Ozwater’17 program, with Ruth Fisher, Andrea Gonzales, Jennifer Lun, Richard Stuetz and Arash Zamyadi presenting on a range of interesting water topics - from odour management to algal blooms and more.
 
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    Features
 
Boat in the Mekong
Arsenic in ground waters of the Mekong: Morbidity, toxicity and culturally appropriate solutions
 
Since the proliferation of tube wells in the 1980s, arsenic-related illnesses, including cancer and arsenicosis, have affected an estimated 480 million people across India. Interestingly, despite India’s Ganga River and the Mekong River both originating in Himalayas and containing comparable levels of naturally-occurring arsenic in groundwater, morbidity from arsenic poisoning has not presented to the same extent within Mekong communities.Researchers from the PLuS Alliance are working to determine exactly why this is, and recommend a program which could minimise the future impacts of arsenic exposure on at-risk communities.
 
Read more
 
 
Nanoparticle lab opening
Exploring impacts of engineered nanoparticles on the environment
 
The increasing popularity of engineered nanoparticles has generated significant excitement in the scientific community. Their potential for use in the biomedical, optical and electronic fields is phenomenal, resulting in a tremendous increase in production which is only expected to rise. Given initial indications that some nanoparticles are toxic, there is concern that they could cause serious health issues for humans if ingested through water, and also have devastating effects on our ecosystems. A/Prof Denis O’Carroll is finding out more through his research investigating the fate and toxicity of engineered nanoparticles in the environment.
 
Read more
 
 
GWI June Seminar - DEWR
Challenges, successes and priorities in Australia's water management
  
Australia’s Commonwealth Government has prioritised investment in water management, research, infrastructure and policy development, and played an important role in providing coordination across state borders, facilitating national standards for water quality, investing in water and providing national leadership in the water space. Mr Richard McLoughlin, Assistant Secretary for Water Resources with the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, was the guest speaker at UNSW-GWI’s latest seminar on 8 June, providing insight into the breadth and scale of the Australian Government’s activities in water, and touching on its upcoming priorities.
 
Read more
 
 
Okavango Delta
River Basin Ecosystem Management course helping to conserve Okavango Delta

A new course offered by UNSW-GWI’s Centre for Ecosystem Science in the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) is contributing to the conservation of one of the world’s most unique and precious ecosystems—the incredible Okavango Delta.The third-year River Basin Ecosystem Management course is an intensive field-based course focused on Botswana’s Okavango Delta, one of the world’s hotspots of biodiversity and a UNESCO World Heritage site.The management and conservation of the Delta is dependent on international agreements and collaboration between Angola, Namibia and Botswana as the basin encompasses all three countries – making it an excellent case study and a worthy research focus.
 
Read more
 
 
Collecting Mikania weed near Amaltari Village (Fiona Johnson)
Improving agricultural production in Nepal
 
Agriculture is vital to the livelihoods of many in Nepal, with 68% of the population estimated to be employed in the agriculture and forestry sector. However, a number of factors including decreased financial investment and extreme weather events have threatened agricultural production in the already water-troubled country, bringing about food insecurity, poverty, and serious public health issues. The World Bank has listed four main restrictions to increasing agricultural production in Nepal: a lack of irrigation, unavailability of inputs such as quality seeds and fertilizers, pests, and lack of access to advisory services and marketing.
A new project by UNSW and Arizona State University (ASU), partners in the collaborative PLuS Alliance, is tackling some of these issues.
 
Read more
 
 
Landon Halloran
BioGEMS team assisting with clean water supply in China
 
GWI’s Biogechemical Engineering group are working on a collaborative new initiative to provide more affordable clean water to people in China. Beijing Origin Water Technology Co (B.O.W) manufactures membrane bioreactors to treat wastewater, and they are currently working with Professor David Waite and his Biogeochemical Engineering, Management and Systems (BioGEMS) team at UNSW to advance their existing water treatment technology. The BioGEMS team will help B.O.W apply their latest research findings to their treatment processes, and further improve the quality of treated water through advanced oxidation practices.
 
Read more
 
 
GWI April Seminar - AWS
Building value through voluntary water stewardship
  
As demand for freshwater throughout the world increases, most surface water is fully allocated and groundwater sources are depleting at a rapid rate. While complex, cross-cutting issues relating to the quantity and quality of water are not new, we as humans have struggled to put in place any real effective, sustainable solutions to these issues. In his April 27 Global Water Institute Seminar, Michael Spencer, CEO of Water Stewardship Australia and Chair of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, suggested that the traditional solutions we implement to address water issues tend to have an expiry date—and many are no longer working.
 
Read more
 
GWI in the Spotlight
 
 
GWI members elected Fellows of Royal Society of NSW
 
UNSW-GWI Director, Nick Schofield, Dean of Engineering, Professor Mark Hoffman, and Pro Vice Chancellor (Research), Professor Emma Johnston, were all elected Fellows of the Royal Society of New South Wales on Wednesday 3 May.
 
A/Prof Stuart Khan awarded ARC Future Fellowship
 
UNSW-GWI's Associate Professor Stuart Kahn was recently awarded a $1 million Future Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC), to better monitor the performance of advanced oxidation processes used to treat recycled water for drinking.
 
   In Profile
 
Secure water for crops (Bryce Kelly)
 
Connected Waters Initiative
 
The Connected Waters Initiative (CWI) is UNSW-GWI’s dedicated groundwater research centre, established to ensure a better understanding of our vast and crucial groundwater reserves. Comprised of experts from Civil and Environmental Engineering; Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Mining Engineering; and Law, CWI focuses on groundwater research and education, applying its research findings to controversial water issues such as coal seam gas development and water allocation, helping to effect more educated decision-making. CWI places a large focus on exploring the many complex interactions that occur between groundwater and surface water, understanding that although groundwater is hidden from view, it is intimately connected with the rivers, streams, creeks, ponds, lakes and wetlands we can see above ground. CWI collaborates with many International and Australian partners on research projects and is a valued member of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT).
 
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Karen File and daughters, Marley and Matilda. Credit: Timothy Hewatt
 
Introducing Valeria Almeida Lima, PhD Candidate
 
Growing up in Brazil’s semiarid region, drought was a constant presence in Valeria Almeida Lima’s life. Being exposed to the devastating impacts of drought on communities meant that Valeria was always fascinated by water and how the essential resource is managed. After completing her degree in Agricultural and Environmental Engineering at Brazil’s Federal University of the Semiarid Region, Valeria started her PhD at UNSW. Through her research, Valeria is currently investigating the use of semi-permeable membranes to form subsurface irrigation systems, which would desalinate water before it reaches crops. Not only would this approach allow brackish water to be utilised for irrigation, it would also contribute to efforts to improve precision of irrigation and improve water usage efficiency.
 
Read more
 
   Events
 
Australasian Groundwater Conference
 
The 2017 biennial Australasian Groundwater Conference will be held at UNSW Sydney on 11-13 July. Goundwater Futures: Science to Practice is jointly organised by International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) and National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT). Over 400 water delegates are expected from several countries, with keynote, plenary presentations and panel sessions covering climate change and groundwater resource challenges, energy futures, social license to operate and innovation in groundwater.
 
Register now
 
   Resources
 
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The largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries. 
 
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The national peak water organisation, delivering information, expertise and collaboration for sustainable water management.
 
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UNSW-GWI
P: +61 (2) 9385 5097
 
 
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Kensington Campus, NSW, 2052
 
 
 
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