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Queensland to create water modelling “community of excellence”

A new partnership with the International WaterCentre (IWC) will help the Queensland Government make more informed decisions about the state’s water resources.

The government has awarded a tender to a consortium led by the IWC to create a “community of water modelling excellence”.

Queensland Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said it was a strategic investment for a state that has felt the impact of not having enough water during drought, and has had to manage the effects of floods.

She said improved water modelling would provide decision makers with better information about water resource planning, groundwater impact assessment, flood risk management and Great Barrier Reef water quality improvement.

“For example, better modelling of groundwater resources provides us with a better understanding of the capability of a community’s water supply system to meet current and future demand, helping ensure water supply security for regional communities which depend on groundwater for their drinking water,” Enoch said.

The IWC partnership comes after the Queensland Government established the Queensland Water Modelling Network (QWMN) in 2017. This was set up to create a more connected water modelling sector and bring together the individual work done by state and local government agencies, universities and the private sector.

Dr Paul Lawrence from the Science Division at the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said the QWMN had been successful in addressing key government research and development needs, but that it was time to look beyond government to drive innovation.

“We … need to future-proof the sector [and] develop people with the skills to not only ensure continuity but also to drive improvements, efficiencies and innovations so that we can be on top of the game here in Queensland and internationally,” Lawrence said.

“So the QWMN put out a tender, worth more than $900,000 over two years, to come up with and deliver the solutions we need to drive the sector forward.”

The IWC consortium won the tender with a plan to facilitate collaboration among Queensland water modellers and water model users.

IWC CEO Mark Pascoe said this includes an innovation program that will see doctoral researchers working directly with water model users across government, natural resource management groups, mining, agriculture and the private sector to develop solutions to economic, environmental and social challenges.

“The consortium’s engagement program will also include a state-wide skills and knowledge audit to guide investment in education, training and workforce capability growth, as well as a mentoring program to encourage and guide students into water modelling as a career path,” Pascoe said.

The IWC consortium also includes the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Griffith University, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Queensland and the University of Southern Queensland.