Australian Partners

Charles Sturt University

With major campuses across the Murray-Darling Basin, water-related issues are part of Charles Sturt University’s main priorities, with one key research theme Agriculture, Land and Water connecting its research activity to its teaching profile and to the national and international common good. As an internationally recognised integrated research and training provider, CSU has established substantial capacity to safeguard land and water. Its multi-disciplinary team combines the expertise of over 200 environmental scientists, social researchers, economists and post-graduate students to address issues ranging from sustainable water management, wetland management, adaptive management, environmental economics, climate change, social dimension of environmental sustainability (including water security), conservation management to water policy. Academics assist water managers in balancing the multiple benefits of water to achieve enhanced environmental, economic and social outcomes.

CSU is an important contributor to policy-making and management decisions in the water space, with a number of staff on advisory panels and boards. It has well-established partnerships with State and Federal Governments, agencies and other tertiary institutions as well as linkages to international organisations. CSU has a unique ability to combine biophysical, social, economic, cultural and governance fields to provide a truly integrated and multi-disciplinary approach to solving problems that arise when managing social ecological systems, specifically water. CSU academics deliver a number of water-related undergraduate and postgraduate courses, covering catchment management, land & water, river restoration and water policy & governance. They participate in high quality national and international research delivering water related projects aiming to deliver triple-bottom line outcomes across five continents.

• Human impacts: adaptive management, water policy analysis, governance
• Environmental management economics and environmental economics
• River ecology, restoration and management (fish, amphibians, macroinvertebrates, zooplankton, biofilms)
• Monitoring responses to environmental watering (water quality, chemistry, inundation, flow-pulses)
• Wetland inventory and assessment; including GIS skills
• Human impacts on ecosystems: sustainable infrastructure and ecosystem services
• Irrigation, ground water modelling and water balances in agricultural landscapes
• Teaching, short courses, facilitation of workshops & meetings
• Community consultation and engagement in relation to water issues
• On ground technical expertise including a willingness to mobilise

  • Long Term Intervention Monitoring in the Edward Wakool and Murrumbidgee River systems
    The 5-year projects monitor the ecosystem responses to Commonwealth environmental water in collaboration with partner organisations in the Edward Wakool and Murrumbidgee river systems, 2 of 7 areas selected for monitoring. The project has been funded by the Commonwealth Environmental Office. Partners include local land services, state NRM agencies and departments and other universities. Researchers are developing a large data base of ecosystem responses under different flow conditions which will enable them to use statistical modelling to predict and evaluate the response to Commonwealth environmental water. In both cases, researchers are contributing to the management and delivery of environmental water.
  • Optimising canal and groundwater management to assist water user associations in maximizing crop production and managing salination in Australia and Pakistan
    Spatial / temporal assessment of groundwater use, surface water availability and climatic variability were modeled to assess quantity / quality of groundwater resources in the Rechna Doab, Pakistan. Opportunities for equitable distribution of canal and groundwater to improve farmers’ income through maximizing crop productivity and minimizing effects of salinity in irrigated landscapes were also identified. The study provided improved understanding of groundwater usage sustainability and tools for improved surface / groundwater management as well better decision making by the farmers, and policy and institutional setting in relation to the groundwater management in the Lower Chenab Channel (LCC).
  • Identifying low risk climate change mitigation and adaptation in catchment management while avoiding unintended consequences
    This project focuses on several Murray-Darling Basin Catchments as examples for testing a more integrative climate change adaptation method that increases resilience and avoids maladaptation. The project showed how systemic climate change adaptation planning can better consider risks, costs and benefits to inform choice of measures. A ‘Climate Change Adaptation Catchment Assessment Framework’ (CCA CAF) was developed as a planning tool for regional management bodies in southern Australia to assess climate change adaptation. The tool has allowed the incorporation of climate change adaptation considerations into management activities within the CMAs’ water programs. A CCA CAF User Guide has been developed to offer step-by-step instructions.
  • Murray-Darling Basin Futures – Collaborative Research Network
    The Murray‐ Darling Basin Futures CRN is collaboration between cross‐ disciplinary Australian universities and key government partners, aiming to grow research quality, capacity and focus on research that addresses “building resilience in the Murray‐Darling Basin”. CSU researchers were involved in Theme 2 – Environmental Watering and Allocation, specifically “Using an evidence‐based approach in the optimization of water allocation decisions” and “Predicting the response of water quality and groundwater dependent ecosystems to climate change and land management practices: An integrated modeling approach”, and in Theme 3 – Better Governance, Planning and Management, specifically “Modeling community adjustment to water trading in the Murray-Darling Basin”.
  • National Centre for Ground Water Research and Training
    ILWS researchers undertook the majority of the social research component of the NCGRT’s Program 5: Integrating socio-economics, policy and decisions support systems over a five-year period. This project was delivered as a series of sub-projects including: • The Namoi project, to investigate the socio-economic and environmental impacts of water reform and climate change in the Namoi Valley; • The Wakool project, to test the application of resilience thinking as a process to assist water resource dependent communities identify alternative futures; and • The Wimmera social bench-marking project, which included a survey of rural landholders’ perceptions of risk associated with groundwater pumping. ; ;
  • Fish friendly design criteria for small hydro facilities
    Through a series of laboratory/field trials, the project produced detailed scientific information about small hydro effect on native fish species, to be used to improve design and operation of small hydro systems. The establishment of bio-design criteria, based on aquatic species response, will assist regulatory decision-making as well as guide the design of small hydro technologies and projects in Australia and internationally. Availability of scientific data can guide the development of fish-friendly small hydropower projects, and enable technologies to be applied at a much wider range of sites with confidence that any potential impacts on fisheries can be reduced.
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