Chris O’Neill interview: applied environmental engineering for improved catchment management in India, with communities

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]An interview with Chris O’Neill, an environmental engineer and the financial director of Hydronumerics whose mission is to bring innovative, state-of-the-art and solution-based services to the global water industry.

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About Chris and his work in Australia, India and Brazil.

How Chris got started with his work in India

Ideas for authentic international collaboration on water management

How to build relationships with communities when working in international development

Advice for people who want to work in water management in developing countries

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Hydronumerics is a company that provides numerical water resource modelling, real-time management, and online decision support systems. It is a commercial outcome of the work of the Centre for Water Research at the University of Western Australia. The Hydronumerics website has information about the projects that are involved with, their clients, where they work in Australia and internationally, and profiles the software packages they use in their work.

The Centre for Water Research controversially closed in 2005, however, the research produced by from staff of the centre was internationally renowned. For more information see:

In the interview, Chris speaks extensively about decision support systems for integrated water management in India. Extra reading that provides more context to this work includes:

  • A case study of how the Indian Government has applied real-time decision support systems to the management of the large Bhakra Dam (Bakra Bias catchment) supplying irrigation water to three states in India, across 40,000 km2 and hydroelectricity to six states including Rajasthan.
  • newspaper article briefly outlining the context of water scarcity and governance in Rajasthan and why decision-support-services are important.
  • An interview with Sriram Vedire, chairperson of Rajasthan River Basin and Water Resources Planning Authority outlining the context in the area.
  • Additional context regarding water management issues and challenges in India, the demand for solutions and how Hydronumerics is promoting decision-support-systems to stakeholders in the Indian government and getting buy-in from them.

In the interview, Chris discusses the canal lining scenario unfolding on the Colorado River. This controversy refers to the All-American canal relining project, which eliminated up to 50% of groundwater in some areas. The following articles provide some context.

Chris also spoke about twinning and knowledge sharing approaches. The following resources provide some extra details about some of the work being done in this area:

Chris also referred to two leadership resources, including:

  • the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust water fellowship program.
  • action logic trees, which are a comprehensive description of different leadership types, used for self-reflection and awareness in terms of leadership development.

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This interview and related content was originally part of the Kini Interview Series. Kini is a retired brand of the AWP and IWCAN.

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