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South Australia to export water knowledge to China

The South Australian (SA) Government has inked a new partnership that will see Australian water professionals help a province in south eastern China tackle its legacy water issues.

The SA Department for Environment and Water (DEW) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Jiangsu Department of Environment Protection, which will involve the departments working together to develop new approaches to water management.

The first challenge the partnership aims to work on is to improve the health of the Taihu Basin. This is a freshwater catchment in the Yangtze Delta that covers 36,895 square kilometres and has a population of 50 million people.

Decades of rapid industrial development has resulted in serious impacts on the basin. It has been plagued by problems, including a severe algal bloom in 2007, which the Chinese government has spent billions of dollars to rectify.

As part of the agreement, the Adelaide-based International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICE WaRM) will work with the SA Government to deliver the program. This will include initiatives involving basin management, research and pilot projects on recycling wastewater for agriculture.

ICE WaRM Chair and SA Government Strategic Advisor on International Water Opportunities Karlene Maywald said it is important that basin management approaches are developed specifically for local circumstances.

“Starting with clear and evidence based outcomes for communities, the environment and the economy is critical,” she said.

The MOU with Jiangsu is the latest international water partnership for the SA Government. It has previously worked with China’s Shandong Environment Protection Department and the Rajasthan Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management in India on different projects.

DEW Group Executive Director of Water Ben Bruce said the SA water sector is becoming known for its knowledge sharing around the world.

“The state’s water and environmental expertise, training and research and associated legislation and policy are considered to be world leading,” Bruce said.

“Through these partnerships and initiatives, new pathways for SA water experts and companies are being developed across China, providing an avenue to further grow this sector of the economy.”

The MOU was signed at the Jiangsu International Summit of New Technology for Ecology and Environment in Nanjing on 22 October, 2018.