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International Watershed Management Research Centre and joint research initiatives emerge from South Australian Water Mission to China

Jan 31, 2019
Author: Angela Lush


The Goyder Institute for Water Research played a central role in the South Australian Water Mission to China in December, that was aimed at progressing project and cooperation initiatives fostered during the July 2018 Smart Water Mission.

The Mission was led Mr Steve Morton (South Australian Department for Environment and Water) and included Institute Director Dr Kane Aldridge and representatives of Goyder Institute partners – Mr Darryl Day (International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management - ICEWaRM), Ms Jodieann Dawe (Flinders University), Professor Megan Lewis (The University of Adelaide) and Professor Enzo Lombi (The University of South Australia).

The Mission was focussed on promoting South Australian water management capabilities across research, training, business and government sectors and to help facilitate their adoption in China, in particular in the Taihu Basin. The Taihu Basin is in the Yangtze Delta in southern China and covers an area of 36,895 square kilometres. The basin has a population of over 50 million people, and is home to a significant number of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, as well as around 12% of the nation’s GDP.

The South Australian delegates developed an understanding of the range of water issues within China, and challenges for Lake Taihu. A comprehensive basin wide management approach for the Taihu Basin is a key priority for the Chinese Ministry for Water Resources. The Chinese delegates gained an understanding of South Australia’s water expertise and areas where there is significant value in collaboration, including ecological restoration and smart management of watersheds.

As a result of these discussions, the Goyder Institute, ICEWaRM and Hohai University will establish the Sino-Australia International Watershed Management Research Centre. The Centre will be based in China, with an office in Adelaide, and will promote and facilitate innovative river basin research, implement and promote joint China and Australia river basin research projects and become a ‘think tank’ for international river basin governance. These activities form part of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Hohai University and ICEWaRM during the mission. Hohai University is the highest ranked water resources university in China, and 10th worldwide.

The delegation met with Hohai University colleagues and visited the International River Basin Management Research and Training Centre to discuss areas of potential collaboration. These include developing new mapping tools and sensors for water quality and basin management; researching efficient farm management practices to improve water quality; and investigating the operation of river infrastructure for managing water quality and achieving ecological outcomes.

The mission also included a visit to constructed wetlands in Suzhou and Taihu Lake, where the local government has improved water quality through the creation of wetlands and connecting people to nature.

The delegation also met with colleagues from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to identify potential areas of collaboration on water issues in Hong Kong, including coastal protection through water quality management and river restoration.

The Goyder Institute for Water looks forward to continuing and extending its collaboration with colleagues in China and its partners within Australia.

For more information about the Taihu Basin Forum and the Institute’s collaborative research initiatives with China, contact Goyder Institute Director Dr Kane Aldridge.