Decisions to invest in new irrigation infrastructure are made in the face of substantial uncertainty around costs, gaps in hydrological and groundwater understanding, and need for policy development. In addition, farmers and private enterprise are being asked to bear increasing responsibility for these decisions which traditionally were led and funded by government.

This panel brings together researchers and from the Netherlands and Australia to share their perspectives and discuss their experiences. Case studies include an irrigation co-operative in the Murrumbidgee, projects in Tasmania, Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) in the Murrumbidgee, and water policy in New South Wales.

A light lunch will be served following the seminar. Please indicate if you have any dietary requirements when you select your ticket.


Melle Nikkels – Infrastructure investment benefits from farmers sharing decision reasoning and allowing flexibility

Melle Nikkels is a researcher based at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, in collaboration with the consultancy firm Aequator Groen & Ruimte and the University of Tasmania. His work explores how farmers (can) influence the water system, with a focus on water valuation and social learning.

Melle will discuss his work on using decision crossover points as a focus for social learning among farmers, water managers and policy makers in the context of major Tasmania Irrigation projects, along with the importance of building flexibility into infrastructure design and management due to the unknowns involved.

Jenifer Ticehurst & Joseph Guillaume – Is managed aquifer recharge feasible in the Murrumbidgee?

Jenifer Ticehurst is a Research Fellow in the Fenner School of Environment & Society, specialising in sustainability of Australia’s agricultural systems. She currently leads a Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) project on the feasibility of managed aquifer recharge, in collaboration with the University of Sydney.

Joseph Guillaume is a Research Fellow in the Institute for Water Futures and Fenner School of Environment & Society, at the Australian National University, funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA). His work focuses on how uncertainty is managed in water resources management and planning.

Jen and Joseph will present a set of scenarios for managed aquifer recharge to be viable, and discuss feasibility analyses and enabling policy changes. The scenarios and feasibility analyses are being developed as part of a research project on feasibility of managed aquifer recharge for the Cotton industry.

Keith Thompson – Deciding to invest in managed aquifer recharge

Keith Thompson is an Environmental Compliance Officer at Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL), which operates a state of the art gravity-fed irrigation system in the Murrumbidgee Valley. Keith led the development of a report on potential challenges and implications of climate change for the CICL, and has been investigating the potential for managed aquifer recharge (MAR) for the irrigation district, together with the Fenner School of Environment & Society.

Keith will discuss Coleambally Irrigation’s experience in previous infrastructure investment, motivation for investigating MAR, and the outlook for adoption of MAR.

Andrew McCallum & Alvar Closas – Towards a managed aquifer recharge policy for New South Wales

Andrew McCallum is the Principal Groundwater Strategist at NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment (DPIE), affiliate at the Connected Waters Initiative at UNSW, and Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust. He has a PhD in Groundwater Resources from the UNSW. (His cat’s name is Ellie)

Alvar Closas is a Senior Water Strategy Officer at NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment (DPIE), helping with the delivery of Regional Water Strategies for the state. He is a political scientist with a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Oxford. Alvar previously worked for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) on groundwater management, policy and governance in the Middle East and North Africa, and for the World Bank on urban water management and water resources planning.

Andrew and Alvar will provide their perspective on managed aquifer recharge, including its treatment in plans so far, the NSW aquifer interference policy, and current investigations into MAR policy.

The panel discussion will be held under the Chatham House Rule: participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

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