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Northern Australia water research to receive $5 million funding boost

In a boon for northern Australian water security and development, the Australian Government has provided $5 million through the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) to support university research into water use. 

The funding will support studies at Charles Darwin University, CQUniversity Australia and James Cook University, including research into water resource allocation governance, agricultural diversification, and water service delivery to remote and regional areas.

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia David Littleproud said research into sustainable water use is crucial for the development of Northern Australian communities and industries.

“Water security is crucial to the development of northern Australia and this research will pave the way to grow and transform existing sectors and create new ones,” he said.

“This research is about getting sustainable water supplies for the health and wellbeing of northern communities, and for successful agriculture and aquaculture industries.”

Research to influence policy

Special Envoy for Northern Australia and Queensland Senator Susan McDonald said the research will also influence policy across all levels of government.

“The Morrison-Joyce Government is committed to building water storage to support heavy industry, tourism and agriculture, but we need cooperation at state and council level to ensure this can happen,” she said.

“The benefits of storing water for people, crops and livestock are enormous and this will be backed up by the cooperative study we’ve announced.”

CRCNA CEO Anne Stünzner said the investment partnership will help to deliver a program of works across several transformative water research initiatives to enable sustainable development.

“This co-investment is a vital opportunity to demonstrate that agricultural growth and environmentally healthy and sustainable ecosystems can coexist in a water context,” she said. 

Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said: “This exciting partnership will put the Territory at the forefront of water infrastructure and security research — and ensure a sustainable future for northern Australia”. 

Harnessing local knowledge

Furthermore, the new cross-university partnership in water research will harness the collective, local knowledge of all three universities and maximise water security into the future, James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said.

“Being based in the north, all three universities share both the context and operating challenges that are unique to northern Australia to push the boundaries of water research to help secure water supply and security to northern Australia for years to come,” she said.

CQUniversity Australia Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp said the partnership was a strong example of institutions working together for the future sustainability of Northern Australia, which is experiencing fast-paced growth. 

“Northern Australia makes up almost half the landmass of our vast continent, with an urgent need for new knowledge and innovative solutions across environmental, industrial and cultural dimensions,” he said.