The latest news from UNSW's water community.
Photo by Francesco Ungaro from Pexels
Welcome to our September Newsletter 
Welcome to the September edition of the GWI newsletter. During September GWI partnered with UNSW’s Faculty of Engineering and Division of Philanthropy on a public forum on water security. The panel discussion was chaired by Lucy Marshall, Associate Dean for Diversity and Deputy Director of the Water Research Centre at UNSW, and featured Rod Naylor, GHD’s Australian Water Market and member of GWI’s Advisory Committee and Jane Doolan, member of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission. The event provided a forum to discuss current and potential strategies for water management. While acknowledging the devastating impacts of the current drought on rural and regional communities in NSW and QLD, there was consensus that while Australia’s water reforms which began in 1994, have provided a sound framework for balancing water demands for towns, the environment and agriculture, investment is needed to improve water efficiency and security, particularly in rural and regional communities. The timing of the forum coincided with the release of survey on water security which found very similar concerns and opinions in urban and regional NSW, suggesting broad community support for action on water.
Drought conditions in parts of NSW and QLD have forced a number of towns to resort to groundwater to secure drinking water supplies. Management of groundwater in a variable climate is complex process, so this month newsletter features the work of Andy Baker and his team on the connections between groundwater, the chemistry of caves and climate. Andy Baker's work is truly multi-disciplinary and provides valuable insight of the effects of climate on groundwater quality and overall freshwater availability above and below ground. During September, GWI attended the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) Annual Forum in Perth, which afforded the opportunity to present on GWI collaborative projects in Africa, including the Okavango Delta study course run through the PLuS Alliance, which recently won an award. Our newsletter also contains a report on the work of Brett Miller and Bruce Cathers from the Water Research Laboratory at Many Vale, who have been working with the Australian Water Partnership to run training courses on hydraulics and catchment management in Myanmar.
The Water Issues Commentary seminar for September was delivered by Professor Kurt Pennell from Brown University at very well attended presentation co-organised with the Australasian Land and Groundwater Association. Kurt gave a brilliant overview of the status and future direction of a range of techniques to remediate and rehabilitate industrial contamination of groundwater and soils. This month’s newsletter also features a profile on PhD candidate Philippa Higgins, who is working on the effect of changing precipitation patterns on drinking water aquifers supplying communities in the Pacific and the announcement of an opportunity for future PhD students with the Nuisance and Harmful Algae Science-Practice Partnership.
Finally, we conclude with the announcement that the Water Research Laboratory will be hosting an “Engineering meets the Arts” exhibition later this year at the Manly Gallery and Museum to celebrate the 60th anniversary of world famous laboratory at Manly Vale (also known affectionately as UNSW Northern Beaches Campus!)
I hope that you enjoy this newsletter and thanks again for your continued interest and support.
Professor Greg Leslie 
Director, UNSW Global Water Institute
WRL Myanmar
WRL engineers provide hydraulics training in Myanmar
Mr Brett Miller and Dr Bruce Cathers of the UNSW Water Research Laboratory (WRL) spent two weeks providing training fto a group of fourteen Myanmar government engineers in Yangon last month. The training was funded by the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) and customised to target local knowledge gaps in hydraulics and modelling, providing lectures on open channel flow, sediment transport, numerical methods and computational hydraulics along with hands-on river model training.
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Baker Lab Group
Understanding connections between groundwater, caves and climate

UNSW’s Baker Lab Group is at the front line of research related to groundwater processes, cave and karst science, organic matter characterisation and speleothem paleoclimatology—the study of how cave formations can help us to understand Earth’s climate in the past. Led by Dr Andy Baker, the Baker Lab Group takes an interdisciplinary scientific approach, researching between the subject areas of environmental earth science and engineering with foci in organic and inorganic geochemistry and surface and subsurface hydrology.
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day zero panel
Australia's Water Crisis: Will We Face 'Day Zero'?
With recent media reports outlining the looming risk of ‘Day Zero’, on 11 September, UNSW Engineering and the Division of Philanthropy brought together some of the nation’s experts to discuss how the ongoing drought continues to wreak havoc for tens of thousands of Australians and what this might mean for all of us.
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Results are in on NSW community attitudes survey
GWI recently ran a state-wide survey across NSW to determine community attitudes towards water. It was found that Sydney residents are as stressed about fresh water supplies as their rural counterparts and are almost as supportive of recycling water, including for drinking. The survey tapped 603 respondents as as the Bureau of Meteorology released its latest drought statement, revealing that the 32 months since the start of 2017 were the driest comparable period for NSW.
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Partnerships shine at Australia-Africa Universities Network Forum
The Australia-Africa Universities Network Forum was held on Monday 2 September at the University Club of Western Australia. The Forum topic was “Strengthening Australia Africa University Relationships”, and GWI Director Prof Greg Leslie gave a TEDx talk on ‘The importance of partnerships and local leadership in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6’.
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Remote sensing PhD opportunity
 The Nuisance and Harmful Algae Science-Practice Partnership (NHASP) are currently looking for motivated students with a degree in Environmental, Chemical or Computational Engineering for a PhD in Remote Sensing of Harmful Algal Blooms at Melbourne's Western Treatment Plant.
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Kurt Pennell Orica
Guest presenter Kurt Pennell discusses land remediation technologies
GWI, UNSW’s Water Research Centre and the Australasian Land and Groundwater Association co-sponsored Professor Kurt Pennell from the USA's Brown University to give an outstanding talk at UNSW’s CBD campus on Friday 13 September. Prof Pennell outlined the challenges associated with contaminated land remediation and promising new remediation technologies, suggesting that one technology does not fit all cases and it is likely that more than one treatment technology is required at a given site. Following the presentation, Prof Pennell accompanied GWI members on a site visit to Orica.
   In the Spotlight
Okavango expedition wins experience award
The inaugural recipient of the 2019 “Innovative Experience Award” was given by ASU Study Abroad Office to the Okavango Delta Study expedition initiated and supported by the PLuS Alliance. For the third year running, in June a group of staff and students headed to the Okavango Delta in Botswana as part of a river sustainability project, to investigate the socio-ecological challenges and opportunities of this unique river basin.
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   In Profile
Philippa Higgins
Introducing Philippa Higgins, PhD student
Pacific Island countries are among the most vulnerable to climate change. While sea level rise is a hot topic and clearly a major risk, the impact of changing precipitation patterns on water resources also requires urgent attention. Philippa Higgins’ PhD research seeks to better understand how climate change is impacting aquifers in small Pacific Islands, offering some guidance in the South Pacific where a lack of data makes research and decision-making very challenging.
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   Upcoming events
Engineering meets arts
Engineering meets the arts
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of UNSW's Water Research Laboratory (WRL), an 'Engineering meets Arts' exhibition will be open to the public for three months from 6th December – 23 February. Working in partnership with Manly Gallery and Museum, eight contemporary Australian artists have been engaged with eight engineering researchers at WRL over the past nine months to observe and respond to the physical and cultural setting of the WRL site at Manly Dam, and issues around coastal, estuarine and wetland water management and restoration.
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P: +61 (2) 9385 5097
UNSW Global Water Institute
Kensington Campus, NSW, 2052
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