Experts gather to solve global water challenges

Monday, 10 October, 2016

The University of Queensland’s leadership on water solutions will be heard by 3500 global delegates at the World Water Congress and Exhibition this week.

UQ Water Director Associate Professor Eva Abal will outline some of the approaches taken by South-East Queensland stakeholders to ensure healthier waterways and increased investment in water infrastructure.

Dr Abal said 36 researchers from across UQ were working together to guide Queensland’s water future through scientific discovery, technological innovation and policy development.

“Our global waterways are facing complex challenges that require creative solutions and UQ is leading a range of research initiatives to address these challenges,” Dr Abal said.

Even though fresh water is vital for survival, 1.8 billion people have contaminated drinking water and one-in-three lacks sanitation facilities.

“There is an increasing need for cutting-edge science and innovation to address the global demands for safe, sustainably produced water and healthy waterways,” she said.

“Urbanisation is a key focus area for the university’s research efforts due to the pressure it is putting on the catchments that supply our water, the treatment and provision of fresh water, and the downstream management of sewage and stormwater.

“Rural issues are just as important with pollutants entering our waterways, and water harvesting for livestock and crops leading to decreased river flows.

“And of course climate change is the ultimate complex problem affecting our waterways.

“UQ researchers are discovering new technologies to transform organic waste into renewable energy, potentially leading to a new biotech source for Australia to help us transition away from fossil fuels.

“It is only through these collaborative research programs that solutions can be found for the pressing challenges our waterways are facing, and there is no easy answer,” Dr Abal said.

Through the Global Change Institute’s (GCI) Sustainable Water Program, The University of Queensland is committed to addressing the complexities of the global water challenge to improve access and ensure appropriate management of this vital resource.

GCI coordinates UQ’s strengths in innovation and education by building strategic water research partnerships and facilitating adoption of this research into planning and policy.

Increasingly, GCI is highlighting the key links between water, food and energy.

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