Joint forces in new battle to save water
The interests of researchers, industry and the general community alike are being served by a new research initiative launched at the University of Adelaide, the Water Research Cluster.
Water, a major geo-political issue with local, national and international resonance, is the theme of one of four Research Clusters supported within the university.
"In South Australia in particular, water has become a crucial community issue as the population begins to face the reality of water restrictions and higher water prices, while at the same time demanding that our rivers and water bodies be protected and restored," said the University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McWha, at the launch of the Water Research Cluster last month.
The "cluster" concept is designed to build large cross-disciplinary teams with expertise to tackle big research questions and to enable University of Adelaide researchers to work more effectively with industry, other research organisations and the community.
The work of researchers early in their careers will be particularly encouraged through the Clusters.
"Clusters will be a forum for developing dynamic partnerships, making more effective use of our talent and resources, and creating even more innovative educational and training programs by building on cross-sector relationships," Professor McWha said.
In the above context, the university's Water Research Cluster has the potential to benefit large communities.
It covers a wide range of water-related topics, such as impact of climate change, water supply infrastructure, water-efficient buildings, river ecology, river health, water recycling, and coastal management.
The Water Research Cluster draws on a long tradition of water research at the university.
Adelaide researchers have contributed to a dynamic water industry in South Australia, leading the world in innovative delivery and management of water systems.
Academics from the Cluster have already made a difference to water research in Australia through such projects as:
- identifying the impact of human activities on coastal Australia;
- assisting the Murray Darling Basin Commission identify how much water the River Murray needs;
- reducing the costs of installing piped irrigation systems to replace channels in the Riverland; and
- devising soil treatments to reduce loss of nutrients from catchments.
"The Water Research Cluster has the capabilities and resources to have an even greater impact in the future on our lives and our environment, and as well as on those of our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region," Professor McWha said.
"For example, the Cluster already has links with the Centre for Water Supply and Drainage at the Harbin Institute of Technology, China.
"The provision of clean water supply is a major issue in China, where it is not possible in many cities to drink water out of the tap without first boiling it."
The other University of Adelaide Research Clusters are: Healthy Ageing, Healthy Development, Defence and Security.
Story by Howard Salkow & Sukhmani Khorana