Govt sets out to put Queensland at forefront of international water modelling

Published Wednesday, 21 November, 2018 at 09:21 AM

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The Queensland Government has set out to make the state a global leader in water modelling with the awarding of a tender to the International WaterCentre.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government is investing strategically to boost the state’s water modelling capacity.

“Queensland is a state where water has a lot of impact – from not having enough during drought to managing the effect of intense water run-off on our coastal communities,” Minister Enoch said.

“Water modelling provides government, the community and industry with the information we need to make the right decisions and investments in water resource planning, groundwater impact assessment, flood risk management and Great Barrier Reef water quality improvement.

“For example, better modelling of groundwater resources provides us with a better understanding of the capability of a community’s water supply system to meet current and future demand, helping ensure water supply security for regional communities which depend on groundwater for their drinking water.”

The Palaszczuk Government established the Queensland Water Modelling Network (QWMN) in 2017 as a first step to increasing Queensland’s water modelling capacity.

Dr Paul Lawrence from the Science Division at the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said there is excellent modelling capability across Queensland through state and local government agencies, our universities and private industry.

“However, the modelling tends to be done in individual silos, with limited interaction between different water modelling groups, creating a barrier to innovation,” Dr Lawrence said.

“The Queensland Water Modelling Network was established to help break down the silos and create a more connected water modelling sector.

“We also need to future-proof the sector – to develop people with the skills to not only ensure continuity but also to drive improvements, efficiencies and innovations so that we can be on top of the game here in Queensland and internationally.

“The QWMN has been very successful in initiating projects to address key government R&D needs, but it was obvious that we needed to look beyond government to foster external capacity building, to increase collaboration and drive innovation. So the QWMN put out a tender, worth more than $900,000 over two years, to come up with and deliver the solutions we need to drive the sector forward.

“This is where the International WaterCentre (IWC) consortium comes into the picture.

“The International WaterCentre led consortium were the successful tenderer with an ambitious plan to facilitate greater collaboration among water modellers and users of models across Queensland, creating a community of water modelling excellence.”

IWC CEO Mark Pascoe said the consortium was looking to develop an Innovation Program that will see doctoral researchers placed and working directly with model users in Queensland – in local and state government, water supply organisations, regional natural resource management groups, mining, agriculture and the private sector, to develop practical solutions to state, regional and local economic, environmental and social challenges.

“The consortium’s engagement program will also include a state-wide skills and knowledge audit to guide investment in education, training and workforce capability growth as well as a mentoring program to encourage and guide students into water modelling as a career path,” Mr Pascoe said.  

Mr Tony McAlister, a Director of national water and environmental engineering consultancy Water Technology, said the QWMN’s initiative to engage the IWC would assist in providing certainty and direction to the modelling community and its work.

“For my company, it will help us to understand who we can work with and how to leverage opportunities for better outcomes for our clients and the community,” Mr McAlister said.

“My focus is in Queensland working on urban and catchment management and restoration projects. Our challenge is to manage catchments in their entirety and to find sustainable, holistic, solutions. The direction the QWMN and the Queensland Government is taking is the right one.”

Dr Rob Fearon, Director of Innovation Partnerships at qldwater, the central advisory and advocacy body within Queensland’s urban water industry, has also welcomed the QWMN initiative.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to bring together different groups in water modelling, not just modellers but also end-users, to share experiences and learn from each other, building on what’s been done rather than re-inventing the wheel,” Dr Fearon said.

“Queensland is definitely stepping up as a leader in this area.”

The consortium members are the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Griffith University, the International WaterCentre, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, Queensland University of Technology, The University of Queensland, and the University of Southern Queensland.


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