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Director's Message - Looking ahead

Nov 9, 2016
Author: Dr Michele Akeroyd


Following the release of the Goyder Institute’s Strategic Research Plan, several projects have been developed to commence in early 2017 which will address the Impact Areas of Economic Development and Climate Action.

October’s Carbon Neutral Research Definition workshop successfully brought together researchers and policy makers to explore priorities for future applied research in carbon offsets, and an Expression of Interest process is currently underway seeking proposals in relation to research to support the State government’s carbon sequestration strategy. These EOIs are due on 16th November and I am looking forward to seeing the diverse range of innovative research approaches to tackle these issues. I am also pleased that the Institute will play a part in supporting the state government’s statewide carbon neutral objectives.

For those of you interested in learning more about the major projects that are expected to commence in the new year, you can read a short synopsis of each, below.

We are also working on ways to better communicate the findings of the Institute’s research portfolio and have some new products that will be released shortly. We would love to hear your ideas on what information you would find useful to support use of the research outcomes in your business and decision making. Please send your feedback to Kathryn Nicholas.

Keep an eye out for the Institute’s new website that will be launched before Christmas. The new-look website will enable easier searching of publications and project information, personailsed registration to receive information in areas of your interest, and the content reshaped to the new Research Impact Areas. We would also welcome your feedback once the website goes live.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all the finalists in the upcoming the SA Australian Water Association Awards for their excellent contributions to South Australia’s water industry. Good luck!

Dr Michele Akeroyd




Sustainable Expansion of Irrigated Agriculture and Horticulture in Northern Adelaide Plains
Project Leader: Professor Jim Cox, SARDI

The project is proposed to address some of the knowledge gaps known to be impeding irrigation development in the Northern Corridor (defined as the coastal plains region between northern Adelaide and Whyalla). The key management issue to be addressed is: How can the water resources available to the Northern Corridor region be best used to optimise the development of industries that generate new employment opportunities in the NC region in a sustainable way?

Technology-enabled Governance for a 21st Century Irrigation District
Project Leader: TBA

A new irrigation area using recycled water is proposed to be established to the north of the Gawler River – the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS).  This scheme will take advantage of the availability of up to 20GL/a recycled water from the Bolivar WWTP (generated in winter i.e. outside the main growing season) to stimulate economic development through increased primary production and exports, jobs creation and innovation in farming technology and practices. The project acknowledges the need for water governance arrangements in the region to the north of the NAP Prescribed Wells Area, where no water allocation plan or other policy instrument currently exists for the regulation and administration of new water resources, their use or disposal, and the decision support tools needed to support decision making.

Finding Long-term Outback Water Solutions, Stage 3 (G-FLOWS 3)
Project Leader: Dr Daniel Wohling, DEWNR

This project will place emphasis on building upon and extending the scientific approaches taken in Stage 1 (i.e. G-FLOWS-1) and 2 (i.e. G-FLOWS-2), specifically by extending the geophysical inversion process which is expected to significantly reduce uncertainty in groundwater resource determination. The approach integrates hydrogeological conceptualisation, characterisation, and modelling with refined and improved geophysical interpretation techniques. The focus regions will be the Braemar and Musgrave geological provinces of South Australia.

Small-scale Desalination Demonstration
Project Leader: Professor John van Leeuwen, UniSA

The requirement for water for horticultural irrigation to be of low-salinity limits the application of water resources that are marginally above the required salinity. This applies to marginal salinity groundwater in the Northern Corridor, as well as to the use of reclaimed water from the Bolivar DAFF recycling scheme (which may be up to 1200 mg/L) to some horticultural crops that are sensitive. This is intended to be a low-cost project to demonstrate the opportunity to use low cost, low technology desalination techniques at the scale of individual irrigated horticulture enterprises to reduce the salinity of marginal-quality irrigation. The project will select a suitable demonstration site in the Northern Adelaide Plains and establish a small-scale trial of capacitive deionisation desalination technology, with the aim of demonstrating the practicality of such a scheme at the scale of a single enterprise, and the improvements that can be achieved in horticultural product yields or quality.

A framework for impact and vulnerability assessment to improve climate-influenced systems and industries
Project Leader: Professor Seth Westra, The University of Adelaide

Applying the SA Climate Ready data, this project will develop and demonstrate a methodology and framework to assess the vulnerability of industries and natural resources to the impacts of climate change and climate variability. The focus will be assessing the impacts of extreme rainfall events (high-intensity rainfall and drought periods) and the identification of the trigger points, indicating when a system is likely to be pushed beyond acceptable operating conditions. This will be achieved through “stress testing” case study systems or processes to rainfall events of different types, with a particular focus on extreme event types and on a range of time scales, from daily (e.g. events of extreme rainfall intensity) to multiple years (droughts).  

The developed framework will guide the examination of the operational details of agricultural, industrial or water supply systems, to understand which variables most affect a system’s vulnerability to climatic variations and extreme characteristics of rainfall. The intention of this is to provide information on ways in which the management or operation of systems can be altered to improve their resilience to both climate variability and climate change. Importantly, this will also enable identification of threshold values of climate variables (primarily rainfall patterns) at which the operation of a system requires alteration to function effectively.