From the CEO

Tuesday, 30 September, 2008

Richard-HopkinsThe sustainability of Australia’s water resources has become a top priority – both socially and politically.

Public awareness of the scarcity and vulnerability of our water supplies is now higher than ever. The majority of households are living with what must seem like permanent water restrictions and the Commonwealth and State Governments have signed historic agreements to address the endangered Murray-Darling River system.

Possibly the most dramatic evidence of the persistent record-breaking drought in southern Australia is the threat to the Coorong and Lower Lakes at the mouth of the Murray. The situation has become so serious that emergency stock and domestic water is being piped to local communities.

Recent actions include the joint purchase by the Federal and New South Wales Governments of Toorale Station – at the junction of the Darling and Warrego Rivers near Bourke – to return its 20 billion litres annual irrigation entitlement to the river system. Further upstream, the Queensland Government reallocated 10.6 billion litres annually to river flows, rather than further irrigation development.

While these are significant developments, the sustainability of our rivers and water supplies also depends on strengthening our capacity to manage our water resources.

This means training more professionals and paraprofessionals to meet the sector’s skills shortages, as well as providing the existing workforce with new skills.

ICE WaRM continues its energetic role in meeting these needs, nationally and internationally.

Current ICE WaRM initiatives include upgrading options within our award-winning nested Master of Water Resources Management programme.

First, with the National Water Commission, ICE WaRM is adding a new Water Planning specialisation, initially available to Graduate Diploma level from 2009. Second, with the Department of Climate Change, ICE WaRM is revising and adding Climate Change Adaptation to the course offerings.

Applications for the programme, including the new Water Planning stream, are now open for a start in the first semester next year.

The ICE WaRM team also has been busy with two groups from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, who have been in Australia for intensive professional development programmes as Fellows under the AusAID Australian Leadership Awards.

It is both stimulating and rewarding for us at ICE WaRM to build new pathways and facilitate opportunities for the next generation of leaders in the water sector.