Connected Waters Initiative (CWI) Research Centre

The UNSW Groundwater Research Centre

Australia is often said to be the driest inhabited continent on Earth, but that's only because of its low rainfall.

In fact, we have massive reserves of the most precious of natural resources right beneath our feet in our groundwater.

Bore water, for example, from the Great Artesian Basin made it possible to open up vast inland areas for grazing livestock. Natural springs provide the millions of bottles of mineral water we consume every year.

Groundwater makes it possible to grow many of our crops and pastures. And we're looking increasingly to aquifers to provide drinking water for our growing towns and cities.

Groundwater is found in the voids between sediment grains in the subsurface. It can flow slowly like a river through aquifers or pool in great underground "lakes". Although hidden from view it is intimately connected with the rivers, streams, creeks, ponds, lakes and wetlands we can see above ground.

So, effective water management must consider surface water and groundwater as "connected" - a single resource.

Australia has doubled its groundwater use in recent decades. It now makes up more than one-fifth of all the water we harvest. Yet we don't know enough about the many and complex interactions between groundwater and surface water or how this knowledge can be applied to controversial issues such as coal seam gas development and water allocations in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

In many cases, we're still treating them as if they were separate resources and we know far too little about how to manage them sustainably.

The University of New South Wales Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre aims to help fill this critical gap in our knowledge through research, teaching and public education. You can read our vision and mission statements here, and our annual report here.

The CWI is jointly supported by the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering in recognition of the vital roles that both knowledge and technology can play in better understanding and managing Australia's water resources. Our multidiscipinary expertise includes staff from the Schools of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Mining Engineering; and Law.

The CWI manages Australia's groundwater infrastructure program, the NCRIS Groundwater Infastructure, and CWI staff play leading roles in Australia's groundwater centre, the Australian Research Council and National Water Commission funded  National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT).

This site is a window into the UNSW Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre and was initially developed thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Mr Gary Johnston, CEO of Jaycar Electronics.

Latest news

Spotlight on mining and water with Dr Wendy Timms

Spotlight on mining and water with Dr Wendy Timms

10 November 2017

Dr Wendy Timms talks about her many hats and why diversity is critical in sustainable mining practice.

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Groundwater ‘pit stops’ enabled survival and migration of our ancient ancestors

Groundwater ‘pit stops’ enabled survival and migration of our ancient ancestors

1 June 2017

African groundwater helped kick-start the evolutionary history of humans, with the movement of our ancestors across East Africa shaped by the location of springs, new research suggests.

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CWI team member gives keynote address at Water Institute for Sustainability Forum in Thailand

CWI team member gives keynote address at Water Institute for Sustainability Forum in Thailand

9 February 2017

Connected Waters Initiative research fellow Dr Landon Halloran was a keynote speaker at the Water Institute for Sustainability Forum in Bangkok, Thailand in January 2017.

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CWI team member appointed to mining industry advisory panel

CWI team member appointed to mining industry advisory panel

3 November 2016

Dr Wendy Timms was recently appointed to the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC).

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CWI at IAH 2016

CWI at IAH 2016

6 October 2016

CWI team members presented their research at the recent 43rd annual congress Hydrogeology Congress in Montpellier, France.

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