New initiative to sustain dwindling water resources

Wednesday, 01 August, 2007

Australia's International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICE WaRM) has launched an important initiative to help tackle the water crisis head-on " a post-graduate program to train the new leaders who will spearhead the management of our scarce water resources.

The Masters program in Water Resources Management is the first of its kind in Australia and covers cutting-edge developments in water quality and treatment, irrigation, water infrastructure, catchment management, aquatic ecosystem management, groundwater hydrology, hydrogeology and public health.

ICE WaRM chief executive, Richard Hopkins believes the program - a three-semester Master degree, two-semester Graduate Diploma and single-semester Graduate Certificate " is a vital weapon to counter the critical global skills shortage in water management.

"There's never been a greater need for a new breed of water management experts," Hopkins said.

"Australia is one of many countries facing a chronic skills shortage in this area and the situation has been substantially worsened by the coincidence of the drought and climate change.

"Historically, Australian water authorities were staffed by highly-qualified experts with extensive on-the-job training and experience. But over the last 15 years, a skills shortage has developed. Many of the experts are growing older together and don't have enough time to train their successors.

"This Masters program is vital to fast-track the young innovators who will lead us through the water resources challenges of the 21st century."

A total of 57 students from Australia and overseas " including China, India, Sri Lanka and Latin America - have enrolled in the program.

"Water education in Australia traditionally has been part of an engineering degree," Hopkins says. "Although those are valuable qualifications, the technical side is just one aspect of the increasingly complex process of water resources management.

"This Masters program will develop the next generation of experts who can help us overcome one of the most pressing global issues " managing our limited water resources."

The Masters program is offered through ICE WaRM's partners - the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia, Flinders University, Deakin University and the University of Central Queensland.

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