Essential Water webinar – Irrigation

Wednesday, 26 May, 2021

Essential Water 

A Webinar series by ICE WaRM


The Essential Water webinars seek to introduce people to water science and management.  They are designed for a broad audience, including those involved in water policy or management but without technical expertise, those who wish to expand their knowledge to areas outside their expertise, young water professionals and members of the community wishing to understand water policy and making.

These webinars are an introductory refresher and partly an update on current thinking and practice on water management issues.

Seminar 3 – Irrigation, what is it’s future in a water scarce world?

Agriculture uses the major share (around 70%) of global freshwater resources.  But as demand for water and water scarcity increases, irrigation in agriculture is being questioned.  In many regions of the world, irrigation for food production is used inefficiently, leading to environmental degradation, overuse of groundwater, reduced river flows, and pollution.

Is irrigation part of the problem or part of the solution to food security?  What happens to the land if there is too much irrigation?  How can water use efficiency in irrigation be increased and is this the same as increased irrigation productivity?  What has Australia learnt from irrigating dry lands?  Can we offer countries facing water scarcity any helpful advice on efficient use of water in irrigation?  How has Australian irrigation technology assisted in Asia?

This webinar is an opportunity to hear from an Australian irrigation specialist with substantial experience in irrigation in Australia and in Asia.  There will also be an opportunity to have your questions about irrigation answered by an expert.

When: 2:00pm (AEDT) Thursday 10 June



Tony Oakes is a founder of Rubicon Water, where his management responsibilities include Network Control implementation and international business development. Tony has 30 years of experience in water system operation and management, computer system modelling and software design and application. Tony has a degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Science (Computer Simulation) from Swinburne University

Essential Water seminar series

Water is critical to life – integral to all social, economic and environmental activities.  Water underpins food production, electricity generation, livelihoods, life in cities and human health.  SDG 6 targets water and sanitation for all, but water is critical to achieve all the SDGs.

When asked to identify the greatest risks to economies and societies for the next ten years, global leaders from multiple sectors identified water crises as the most prominent risk”.[1]

“By 2050, at least one in four people will live in a country where the lack of fresh water will be chronic or recurrent. He further noted that: 40% of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity; 80% of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment; and more than 90% of disasters are water-related. More than two billion people lack access to safe water and more than 4.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation services”[2]

Whether you are involved directly in water or not, the emerging water crisis will have widespread impacts.  Here is the opportunity to build your knowledge and broad understanding of the challenge of water for all.

Seminar 3 – Irrigation, what is it’s future in a water scarce world?


Anthony (Tony) Oakes was born in Nathalia, Victoria, Australia where his family selected land in the 1870’s.  He attended primary and secondary school at Nathalia and completed his VCE at Shepparton High School. He studied Agricultural Engineering at the University of Melbourne and started work with the government entity, the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission at Kerang in 1980. He was involved in some of the early work on the Murray Darling Basin salinity control programs such as laser graded on farm irrigation layouts and groundwater modelling. He then moved into water system operation and control after further studies in computer science.

Rubicon Water was founded in 1995 by David Aughton, Gino Ciavarella, Tony Oakes, Bruce Rodgerson and Trevor Tennant and the company has enjoyed steady growth and now employs over 300 people with solutions operating in 15 countries.  A key objective of the company is to build products that improve the efficiency of water use to deliver improved farming and environmental outcomes.  Tony has been actively involved in the growth of the company initially focussing on software design and implementation and the nurturing of research relationship that commenced with the University of Melbourne in 1997.  Tony had line management responsibility for the establishment of the company’s operations in the USA in 2006 and has lead the entry into many international markets.  He was a member of the America Society of Civil Engineers task committee on “Recent Advances in Canal Automation in Irrigation and Drainage systems resulting in the publication of a book in 2014.  Tony has been active in domestic and international conferences and was a board member of the Australian chapter of the ICID.  He has recently stepped aside from his line management role and is working for the company as a consultant, advisor and mentor.  He continues to be a shareholder and director.

Tony lives in Melbourne with his wife and has two adult daughters. He still tries to play tennis, cycle, bush walk, kayak and ski and has enjoyed travelling to many interesting parts of the world that have interest in Rubicon’s products.

Moderator: B Env Sci, MNRM, Communications Manager, ICEWaRM.

Trudy has worked in water resource management and policy for 20 years. A diverse range of experience across the water industry, including in urban water and wastewater management, catchment management, river operations and water policy.


2:00pmWelcome & IntroductionsTrudy Green
2:03 – 2:30pmAn introduction to irrigationTony Oakes
2:30 – 2:57pmQuestion & AnswerTony Oakes, moderated by Trudy Green
2:58pmClosing remarksTrudy Green