Second term finishes strong – a year in review from the Director

Well, there’s no doubt that 2020 had some surprises in store for all of us. Aside from the personal challenges of operating in a global pandemic, many of our teams had to put field work on hold, limit regional travel and work from home without access to many of their tools and resources. Despite these significant obstacles, many of the Institute’s projects were finalised as our second term came to a close.

The G-FLOWS project, Finding Long-term Outback Water Solutions, was completed, with the team finding ancient water in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. Their work has generated a range of groundwater prospectivity mapping tools that will help future water resources planning, investment and management in South Australia and further afield in other remote and arid areas.

The Ecological connectivity of the River Murray project was also finalised this year. As a result, water managers are now able to better understand and quickly assess the impact of management decisions on the water quality and ecology of the River Murray. The third project completed this year was the Socio-ecological assessment of the ecosystems, industries and communities of Spencer Gulf project. The Spencer Gulf team developed Gulfview, a new software platform that helps industry, community and policy-makers access socio-ecological information about the region so they can develop and evaluate proposals for new developments, including aquaculture activities, desalination plants and ports.

We also began several new initiatives after successfully negotiating the Institute’s third term with partners the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), CSIRO, Flinders University, The University of Adelaide, and the University of South Australia.

New projects initiated during the year include Phase One of the Healthy Coorong Healthy Basin (HCHB) program in partnership with Australian and South Australian governments. The Institute’s research program will consist of a series of integrated projects that collectively provide knowledge to inform the future management of the system. Each project will bring together experts in multi-disciplinary and collaborative teams from CSIRO, Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia and SARDI. The research will build on earlier projects of the CLLMM Recovery Project and the Goyder Institute, including Recommended actions for restoring the ecological character of the South Lagoon of the Coorong and Urgent investigations for restoring the ecological character of the South Lagoon of the Coorong. The findings of the research will be used to inform the selection of potential infrastructure solutions to improve the health of the Coorong’s South Lagoon based on scientific evidence and independent expert advice.

Stormwater management is back on the agenda with commencement of a new project to help protect seagrass communities in Gulf St Vincent – A decision framework for selecting stormwater management interventions to reduce fine sediments and improve coastal water quality. The framework will be tested and applied at a sub-catchment scale in the first instance but have capacity to be applied to all metropolitan Adelaide catchments in the future and be used to inform the New Life for our Coastal Environment policy.

The Institute is also a partner in the ONE Basin CRC bid, working with leading industry, government and research partners from across the Murray-Darling Basin. The ONE Basin CRC is focused on connecting industries, governments, communities and researchers to manage climate and water risks in the basin. We’ve been consulting broadly with government and industry partners to shape the bid. We were delighted to hear recently that our bid is one of only five CRC bids to be shortlisted this round with a stage 2 bid to be submitted in early 2021.

We’re looking forward to progressing all of these projects and opportunities in the year ahead while continuing to disseminate the tools and findings from the projects completed in the Institute’s second term. We will continue to build collaborative partnerships to advance water research and management in South Australia and beyond in the years to come.

Thank you for your support throughout this difficult year. We’ll be taking a break over Christmas and our office will be closed until 11 January 2021.

I hope you all enjoy a well-deserved festive holiday season and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.

Kane Aldridge
Director, Goyder Institute for Water Research

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