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A triumphant return for Next Water

Water Research Australia’s Next Water 2023 conference returned to Sydney on the 22nd to the 23rd of February after a four-year hiatus. Around 200 conference delegates participated in an excellent program which covered a wide range of topics including human factor in water quality and safety, the use of new desalination technologies in remote outback, to the challenges and opportunities of water recycling, and the impact of extreme weather on water quality.

The conference included a number of international speakers including Associate Professor Sera Lewise Young from Northwestern University in Chicago, who presented on her work quantifying human experiences with water insecurity, using the Water Insecurity Experiences (WISE) Scale.

Water Research Australia CEO Karen Rouse said, “Sera’s presentation provided fascinating insight into a valuable tool that enables communities to become their own researchers and have ownership and confidence in the results.”

Among other friends of UNSW-GWI were representatives of the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service and Dharriwaa Elders Group who participated in the Recognising First Nations Water Wisdom and Research session. They gave an update on the Food and Water for Life project in a presentation titled ‘Community-led approach to water and food security’. The presentation covered a number of community led initiatives including the regeneration of the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Services Community Garden and establishment of a garden network; collaborative initiatives with retailers and fast food outlets; school food and gardening programs; the provision of clean drinking water kiosks for schools and health centres; the employment of an Aboriginal Community Food Coordinator; and general advocacy for improved food and water security.

UNSW-GWI was pleased to sponsor the conference stream titled ‘Addressing Current & Emerging Challengesand eight members of the UNSW water community were given the opportunity to share their expertise and research, including:

  • A/Prof Pierre Le Clech: ‘Investigating backwash return management practices in drinking water treatment’
  • Yunyi Zhu: ‘Machine learning-incorporated digital twins to drive the smart operation of water desalination systems’
  • Clare Bales: ‘Membrane Capacitive Deionization (MCDI) for treated domestic wastewater reuse’
  • Prof David Waite: ‘Membrane Capacitive Deionisation (MCDI) of brackish groundwaters in remote outback Australia using an AR-based Digital Twin of the real on-ground unit’
  • Jingyi (Christine) Sun: ‘Restoring the nitrogen cycle in wastewater treatment using a flow electrode system’
  • Prof Stuart Khan: ‘Anticipating and managing water quality risks from extreme weather events’
  • John Verhoeven, Stuart J Khan & Megan Evans: ‘Integrated cyanobacterial management at basin/catchment scale – addressing a significant global and Australian problem’
  • Dr Bojan Tamburic with Dr Nick Crosbie (Melbourne Water): ‘Algae-related challenges to recycled water supply from wastewater lagoons’

Professor Rita Henderson from the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering commented on the quality of the program and the benefits of face-to-face meetings.

“The program was excellent, with highlights for me including the very powerful session on ‘Recognising First Nations Water Wisdom and Research’ and, on cyanobacteria, ‘Managing our Blue-Green Future’.”

“For me, participating in Nextwater highlighted the importance of connecting face-to-face with peers to develop and maintain those important relationships and collaborations, and it was wonderful to see the WaterRA Research Leadership Program students who attended similarly networking with water leaders.”

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