Outcomes from the 1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management

The 1st International Conference on Sustainable Water Management was held in Chandigarh, India, on 10-11 December.

Organised by the Bhakra Beas Management Board under the aegis of the National Hydrology Project through the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, the conference provided an interactive platform for delegates to brainstorm and share ideas on a range of water topics.

The event was supported by the World Bank and attracted over 400 water professionals, primarily from India, involved in various aspects of water management including hydrology, hydrogeology, policy and research. Topics up for discussion included flood and drought management, hydrology, e-flows, inter-basin water transfer, climate change, intelligent decision support systems, storage projects and other aspects to advance the sustainable management of water resources.

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) CEO Professor Nick Schofield was joined by Partners CDM Smith Principal Hydrogeologist and Managing Director Stuart Richardson, Access Water Management Director David Harriss, and AWP South Asia Representative Vijay Kumar at this event.

The inaugural session was attended Prof Schofield along with the Governor of Himachal Pradesh State and senior officials from the Ministry of Water Resources and the Central Water Commission. In the opening session, Prof Schofield, on behalf of the Australian High Commission, highlighted Australia’s engagement with India through the Australia-India water MoU and AWP’s ongoing activities in the National Hydrology Project (NHP).

Prof Schofield also gave a presentation on “Climate Change and Water Management – an Australian Perspective”.  This talk touched on integrated river basin management and climate change; over allocation and over use of water resources; role of water markets; environmental watering strategies; irrigation water use efficiency; managing through droughts; hydrological impacts of wild fires; urban water responses to climate change; design of water sensitive cities and relevance of tools such as eSource and Water Guide.

The focus on the Murray-Darling Basin continued through AWP’s involvement in the event, with Mr Harriss giving a presentation on the history of water development, management and planning within the Murray-Darling Basin states, highlighting the phases of development and the recent need to address over-allocation of water resources – and how this was being enacted through the Basin Plan.

Mr Harriss said that the presentation and subsequent discussions attracted significant interest from delegates.

“Attendees were especially interested in the application of supply measures to increase water use efficiency as well as demand measures, including the introduction of sustainable diversion limits and transferable volumetric entitlements,” said Mr Harriss.

The Australian experience was also shared and discussed in regard to surface water and groundwater interaction, with Mr Richardson presenting on this topic.

Mr Richardson presented on investigating and managing the interaction between rivers and aquifers in the Murray-Darling Basin, and had a highly engaging discussion with local practitioners on the approaches used in India.

AWP was also the poster sponsor for the event, supporting eight Master and PhD students working in the water sector to attend the conference and submit their presentations. The posters were judged by a panel of experts and Prof Schofield presented prizes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners during the valedictory session of the conference.

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