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Region's groundwater experts rally at UNSW

UNSW hosted the Australasian Groundwater Conference on 11-13 July, welcoming 340 attendees to Sydney to examine the multi-dimensional challenges affecting the sustainable development of the region’s groundwater resources.International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) team at AGC17

The three-day event, managed by the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the Australian Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), focused on the theme of Groundwater Futures: Science to Practice, bringing together representatives from industry, academia and government for one of the largest assemblies of groundwater specialists this year.

The conference was co-chaired by UNSW academics Dr Martin Andersen (School of Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Dr Wendy Timms (School of Mining Engineering), both members of the Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre (CWI), who were pleased with how well the conference was received.

“With the perception that public focus has been shifting away from groundwater issues in recent years, the conference is proof that the region’s groundwater community is very much alive and kicking,” said Dr Andersen.

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Luke Hartsuyker, opened the conference, speaking about Australia’s progress and future priorities in understanding and managing its groundwater resources. Other plenary speakers included Dr Mark Cuthbert from Cardiff University; Prof Craig Simons from NCGRT; Mr Chris McCombe from Minerals Council of Australia; Dr Catherine Moore from New Zealand’s GNS Science; and Mr Saul Holt QC, who gave an interesting presentation on groundwater and the law.

Panel discussions explored The Australasian Groundwater Stocktake, Climate Change and Groundwater Resource Challenge, Energy Futures, Social License to Operate, Future Directions and Innovations in Groundwater and Modelling Outlook—offering delegates an in-depth, multi-disciplinary dialogue on some of the most topical groundwater issues.

The conference is proof that the region’s groundwater community is very much alive and kicking

Dr Martin Andersen, Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre

The conference concluded with field trips on Friday 14 July, with delegates visiting the blue mountains to look at geology and upland swamps; and the Orica site in Botany, which is currently undergoing a cleanup project after groundwater in the area was contaminated by historical industrial operations.

“It was wonderful to see such an outstanding turnout with a healthy mix of practitioners, academics, mangers and policy makers, making the conference a huge success with relevance across all sectors,” said Dr Andersen.