Drugs in sewers, low-cost beach monitoring system and our COVID-19 expert.
Welcome to our 3rd GWI newsletter for 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work and communicate over the past month. Our water community at UNSW have family, friends and colleagues located all around the world and we hope that everyone is well and are making the adjustments needed to save lives by slowing the spread of the Corona virus. We are also grateful to the people working in water utilities everywhere that are keeping our potable water and wastewater systems working and the people in the health community working to prevent the spread of the virus and treating those affected. In particular we applaud the work of our colleague Mary-Louise McLaws from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine who has been involved in the response to COVID 19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
In this edition we congratulate Liza McDonough and her colleagues at the Connected Waters Initiative for their study published in Nature Communications which considered historical changes in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations from aquifers in 32 countries across six continents and Richard Kingsford from the Centre for Ecosystem Science for his work with the Gayini consortium which has resulted in the return of 88,000 hectares of Murrumbidgee floodplain to the Traditional Owners, Nari Nari people; and Chris Drummond and the team at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory that developed a new, low cost beach monitoring system.
Last month we were fortunate to host two excellent speakers in our Water Issues Commentary series. Megan McLoed from the Water Stewardship Alliance provided an overview of her work helping businesses implement whole of catchment water efficiency and quality management plans while the University of Queensland’s Jake O’Brien provided an update on his work monitoring sewers for biomarkers for drugs and antimicrobial resistance. The next seminar will feature Katrina Donaghy from Civic Ledger who will speak on her work on a new approach to water trading. This seminar will be the first delivered through our new Water Issues Commentary podcast. Also we are pleased to announce that GWI has become a member of the Open Cities Alliance, a leading peak body committed to finding synergistic solutions for future water, waste, energy and mobility systems in urban areas.
Finally, our featured PhD student for this month is Kate Judith from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences who research explores the philosophical significance of the space occupied by mangroves ‘between’ the water and land.
We hope you enjoy this edition of the GWI newsletter and wish everyone the best in these challenging times.
Prof Greg Leslie
Director, UNSW Global Water Institute
Latest News
New beach monitoring system unlocking unprecedented information about coastal zones
A new beach monitoring system pioneered by UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory is providing Australian Councils with a cost-effective solution to unlock unprecedented information about coastal zones.
Natural contaminant threat to drinking from groundwater
A recent UNSW study found that over half of the world’s population faces a looming threat to their drinking water due to climate change and urbanisation increasing groundwater organic carbon.
UNSW-GWI joins Open Cities Alliance
Last month GWI became a member of the Open Cities Alliance, Australia’s peak association for Next-Gen utility and mobility infrastructure and services. The partnership with Open Cities builds on the work of members of UNSW water community who are looking at precinct scale solutions to improve the delivery of water, energy, waste, information and transport services.
Water stewardship for tertiary institutions and future water leaders
Megan McLeod, Program Director at Alliance for Water Stewardship Asia-Pacific presented at UNSW Sydney on Wednesday 11 March. Her presentation was on the topic of ‘Building a water-secure future for all: Water stewardship for tertiary institutions and future water leaders.
Gayini back under Nari Nari ownership
This month, UNSW Sydney's Centre for Ecosystem Science, as part of the Gayini consortium, applauded the return of almost 88,000 hectares of  Murrumbidgee floodplain to its Traditional Custodians. Gayini is now legally back in the hands of the Nari Nari people after more than 150 years of dispossession.
Drugs in sewers: Measuring biomarkers for drugs and antimicrobial resistance
At The University of Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences, Research Fellow Jake O’Brien and his colleagues are using a wastewater-based epidemiology approach to gather revealing insights on how legal and illicit drugs are being consumed across Australia.
In Profile
Introducing Kate Judith, PhD Student
Kate Judith works from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences on research focused on mangroves. Specifically she is exploring the space that mangroves occupy ‘between’ the water and land—and how this is significant from a philosophical perspective.
Prof Mary-Louise McLaws,
COVID-19 advisor
Mary-Louise is a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Health Emergencies Program Experts Advisory Panel for Infection Prevention and Control Preparedness, Readiness and Response to COVID-19.
Upcoming Events
Improving Water Markets and Trading through New Digital Technologies
The April Water Issues Commentary will feature Katrina Donaghy, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Civic Ledger – a civic focused blockchain Australian company.  Katrina will discuss a trial pilot project conducted at the Mareeba-Dimbulah Water Supply Scheme  in Far North Queensland and share the results so far, her experiences and lessons learnt. Katrina's presentation will be available as a podcast, with details on how to listen coming soon.
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