Engineers working on water treatment plant

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU), Macquarie University, UNSW and the University of Sydney have joined the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) to shed insight into NSW water data and improvements that can be made to the NSW water monitoring network.

The NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) has united universities and government partners to trial new technologies and data modelling techniques to enhance the state’s water management capabilities.  

NSSN Co-Director, Professor Benjamin Eggleton, hopes the collaboration will allow the development of a holistic solution to water management.

“The team has investigated a range of integrated technologies from quantum sensors capable of mapping underground aquifers to low-cost sensors collecting highly localised data that respond to the problem of great distances in Australia and remote sensing through satellite imaging,” Mr Eggleton said.

DPE Water Chief Knowledge Officer, Mitchell Isaacs, said exploring new technologies allows the participants to better serve the community in a rapidly changing environment. 

“The unprecedented weather events of recent years have highlighted the need to understand the complexities of natural water systems better,” Mr Isaacs said. 

Researchers from ANU have led two sub-projects in the program, including local gravity sensing and satellite gravity measurements of Australian water data from NASA satellites to show the gravitational pull of water at a continent-wide scale, revealing new information on how water moves through the landscape. 

Macquarie University researchers – experts in low-cost monitoring – demonstrated the utility of high spatial resolution sensing using low-cost sensors. 

UNSW researchers have provided a wealth of background knowledge on all aspects of hydrology and have led an investigation into the recharge mechanisms of aquifers. 

 Probabilistic modelling was conducted by the University of Sydney’s ARC Training Centre in Data Analytics for Resources and Environments, which yielded insights into how uncertainty around water measurements can be addressed.

ARC Training Centre in Data Analytics for Resources and Environments (DARE) Director, Associate Professor Willem Vervoort, said the work has demonstrated the importance of multidisciplinary research teams working in close harmony with government agencies.

“Through continued and regular discussions between the partners, the project has produced a roadmap to improve integrated and evidence-based management of water resources in NSW,” Mr Vervoot said. 

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