Science Program

The National Water Grid Authority (NWGA) Science Program progresses opportunities and informs funding decisions to make sure we are investing in projects that will provide clean, reliable and sustainable water resources. Our targeted science program brings together advice from Australia’s leading science organisations to identify how we can best deliver long term benefits for our communities.

Goals, themes of work and arrangements for guiding investments under the program are outlined in our Science Strategy. The 3 themes within this strategy include:

  • water resource analysis
  • alternative and emerging options
  • new information resources including communicating the science.

Read the Science Strategy (PDF 528 KB) | (DOCX 948 KB).

The NWGA Investment Framework sets out how we use science to identify water infrastructure priorities across Australia. Our Science Strategy closely aligns with this framework.

Priorities informed by science

The current priorities for the NWGA Science Program include:

  • progressing technologies to make water supplies more resilient to climate change and variability. Promising technologies include Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), desalination of brackish groundwater and increased use of recycled wastewater
  • analysis of available water resources and technologies to improve water quality and reliability for remote First Nations communities
  • identifying opportunities for further planning and development of water resources, including through comprehensive multi-disciplinary water resource assessments in northern Australia.

There are many science projects currently underway across Australia and several have been completed. This includes three rapid desktop appraisals by CSIRO. These analysed opportunities for new groundwater-based infrastructure; low-cost desalination; and managed aquifer recharge.

The Australian Government commissioned the CSIRO to undertake a detailed technical and economic analysis to comprehensively assess both the Bradfield Scheme including modern variants. The research assessed the feasibility of long-distance movement of water from north Queensland to support agricultural development further west and south.

In consultation with state and territory governments, the Science Program is also funding further water resource assessments across the north – including the Roper River, Victoria River and Southern Gulf catchments – building on the learnings from the 2018 Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment (NAWRA) project.

We also engaged Flinders University’s National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training to look at salinity risk from groundwater extraction in an area of the Northern Territory. The results of this salinity risk study will help inform water planning and licensing decisions.

Who we work with

We work closely with state and territory governments and leading national science institutions, including:

  • Geoscience Australia
  • the Bureau of Meteorology.

Through these successful partnerships, we are continuing to deliver best-practice scientific research that informs the planning and investment of the next generation of water infrastructure for Australia.

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Unlocking northern Australia

The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment is informing the development of sustainable water infrastructure in Australia’s north and supporting the growth of primary industries including agriculture.

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Understanding Australia’s climate

The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology’s rainfall deficiencies and water availability page provides information about monthly rainfall and the availability of water across Australia.

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Understanding drought

The Australian Government’s drought map provides a range of information on drought conditions and associated support measures in one useful platform.

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Water storages

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Water Storage dashboard provides a snapshot of how much water is available over the entire country.

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