Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) will help develop a more productive, resilient and sustainable Murray-Darling Basin as part of a new partnership worth $156.5 million.

The One Basin Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), led by the University of Melbourne, will develop and commercialise sustainable opportunities for Australia’s irrigation regions and water industries.     

The new CRC has been awarded $50 million in Federal Government funding, with a further $106.5 million coming from 85 partners.

One Basin CRC will create and assess new sustainable water and agricultural technologies and drive their adoption by water managers and farmers to increase agricultural production, as well as environmental resilience and sustainability. It will also draw on First Nations’ knowledge and expertise.

Researchers from the ANU Institute for Water Futures, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Mathematical Sciences Institute and ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science will lead the University’s work in the One Basin CRC.

Professor Lorrae van Kerkhoff, Director of the ANU Institute for Water Futures said that the One Basin CRC provides the much-needed opportunity for researchers and practitioners to work together on future-oriented solutions to the complex challenges facing the region. 

“These challenges are not only about responding to changing climates, they are also about building robust communities and industries who are resilient to a wide range of shifts, and can adapt to emerging opportunities as they arise,” Professor van Kerkhoff said.

We can achieve far more toward this goal by working together across disciplines and sectors, and the One Basin CRC will make this opportunity a reality.” 

Associate Professor Barry Croke, ANU lead in the One Basin CRC bid and based at the Fenner School of Environment and Society and the Mathematical Sciences Institute, said that research driven by the One Basin CRC partners will have positive impacts on regional areas of the Murray-Darling basin. 

“One Basin CRC research initiatives will focus on improving water use and management and will consider all water users within the Murray-Darling basin,” he said. 

“Projects will include assessing and identifying future risks to water resources including climate change, developing new technologies to improve water use efficiency and aid water resource management, and improving the capability of water users to adopt to new ideas.”

University of Melbourne Professor Mike Stewardson is leading the One Basin CRC as interim CEO. He said the One Basin CRC is shaped by industry and will pave the way to transform irrigation regions across Australia and internationally.

“By 2037, an estimated $4.3 billion of economic impact will be generated by innovation in water, agriculture and energy technology, enhanced forecasting and decision-making capacity, with a focus on sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change,” Professor Stewardson said.

“Australia’s irrigation regions are the powerhouse of Australia’s agricultural sector producing 50 per cent of Australia’s agricultural profits, with the Murray-Darling Basin being the focus of two thirds of that irrigated agriculture.”

Over its 10-year term, One Basin CRC’s activities will be concentrated across four regional hubs at Loxton, Mildura, Griffith and Goondiwindi, working directly with industry, businesses, First Nations communities and government.

Top image: Murray River, Mildura, Victoria. Photo: Jacqui Barker/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

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