One of the largest water research partnerships in Australian history, the Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, was launched in Canberra today by the Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson.
Water for a Healthy Country is an Australia wide research program that aims to substantially increase the economic, social and environmental value Australia receives from its water.
The Flagship combines the resources of CSIRO, other research agencies including various universities and Cooperative Research Centres, Government, industries and local communities across the continent.
"The challenge is how to wring out increased water benefits from Australia's limited water resources. Demands are increasing – industry, urban and irrigation – and at the same time we are all seeking healthy rivers, reefs and fisheries," says Flagship Director Colin Creighton.
To address the challenge, the Flagship depends on four vast outdoor 'laboratories' – the people, communities, landscapes and resources of Melbourne, Sydney and their surrounding areas, the coastal and inland region of Queensland that affects the Great Barrier Reef, the urban and rural landscapes of Perth and southwest Western Australia and the Murray-Murrumbidgee foodbowl.
"In each of these regions we will develop and demonstrate water and landscape management systems that local communities support, use and prosper from," Mr Creighton says.
"These regions were chosen for the research and its development – but the things we learn will apply across the whole continent. For example, what we learn about sustainable water use in the Melbourne or Perth regions will be equally useful knowledge in Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart or other cities.
"What we learn about managing runoff from coastal Queensland, or salinity in southwest WA and the Murray-Murrumbidgee basins will have wide application elsewhere. Together these projects will put Australia at the forefront for sustainable management – economic, social and environmental."
Creighton says the communities and industries in the research zones will be active partners in the research itself, working with scientists to devise systems that are practical, sustainable and profitable, defining the benefits they get from water and helping to make balanced decisions about its use.
"Australians are highly innovative people, quick to adopt new technologies and ways of doing things. Water for a Healthy Country gives them a chance to play a part in the development of new technologies and systems, to make sure they really work," he says.
The National Research Flagships initiative is a partnership approach to tackling major challenges faced by Australia, and one of the largest scientific undertakings in our nation's history.
The National Research Flagships will deliver benefits in fields as diverse as healthcare, food, the environment, light metals, oceans, and energy and support the Federal Government's National Research Priorities.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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-- Woodrow Wilson