Sound science to secure water for the future

National Water Grid Authority Science Program

Science plays an important role in identifying the infrastructure that is best suited to improving water security in Australia’s regions, and in delivering the next generation of Australia’s water infrastructure through the National Water Grid.

The NWGA Science Program is providing high-quality scientific information to inform water infrastructure investment decisions. The Science Strategy PDF 5.12 MB outlines the goals, themes of work and arrangements for guiding investments made under the Program.

The National Water Grid Authority (NWGA) Science Program has been developed around three themes to support the delivery of the National Water Grid.

How we work

Theme 1: Water resource analysis

Where and how water resources can be developed to increase water supply to support the agriculture and primary industry sectors.

What does this mean?

We invest in science-based advice to identify and develop water resources that will support Australia’s agriculture and primary industry sectors.

Theme 2: Alternative and emerging options

Identification of emerging opportunities or new water technologies that can be leveraged to overcome supply constraints and enhance the supply capacity of existing water infrastructure.

What does this mean?

We assess emerging opportunities and new technologies to enhance the capacity of existing water infrastructure and improve water security. 

Theme 3: Communicating science

Supporting stakeholders and the community by communicating the outcomes of scientific research on potential water infrastructure investments through new information resources and web-based mapping of water resources, and storage and supply infrastructure.

What does this mean?

We develop new information tools and resources that support community awareness and understanding of the water infrastructure investment and development process.

The National Water Grid Investment Framework sets out how the NWGA is using science to identify water infrastructure priorities across the country. The NWGA Science Program is informed by advice from some of Australia’s leading science institutions and organisations.

Priorities informed by science

The current priorities for the NWGA Science Program include:

  • identifying water-related projects ready for further planning and development through, for example, multi-disciplinary water resource assessments
  • analysis of water infrastructure proposals, such as the Bradfield Scheme and other water transfer and harvesting options
  • examining the opportunities around alternative technologies that support reliable water supplies for agriculture such as Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR), desalination of brackish groundwater supplies and water recycling.

A number of science projects are underway, and several have been completed, including three rapid desktop appraisals by CSIRO. These analysed opportunities for new groundwater-based infrastructure; low-cost desalination; and managed aquifer recharge

In consultation with states and territories, 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 recently funded Flinders University’s National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training to investigate salinity risk from groundwater extraction in the Northern Territory. The results of this salinity risk study will help inform water planning and licensing decisions.

Across our Science Program, the NWGA works closely with leading national science institutions, such as Geoscience Australia, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as with state and territory governments. 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.

Learn more about


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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