Science Program

The National Water Grid Authority (NWGA) Science Program is an investment in Australia’s long term water security.

Climate change and population growth are putting additional pressure on our already variable water resources. This compounds the challenges in providing reliable and safe water for communities and industry. The Science Program helps address these challenges.

Science Program overview

The NWGA Science Program responsibly invests in research projects that can:

  • accelerate uptake of new and emerging water security technologies
  • increase the use of climate resilient water sources
  • underpin sustainable, nature-positive development of water resources, particularly in northern Australia.

The Science Program provides a collaborative national research portfolio which may inform decisions on where and how we build sustainable water infrastructure for a water-secure future.

Our collaborative approach

We work collaboratively with state and territory governments and science organisations to deliver projects that:

  • analyse water resources, to understand future sustainability and nature positive development options
  • identify and progress alternative and emerging opportunities to increase water security and climate change resilience
  • develop new information resources to support decision-making, including decision support tools and science communication.

The Science Program brings together scientific expertise from around Australia to identify how we can harness our water supplies in a way that is environmentally sustainable, culturally responsive and fair. This includes Australia’s leading science organisations:

  • the Bureau of Meteorology
  • Geoscience Australia
  • Australian universities.

This collaborative approach has already seen a range of case studies which we can draw on, including:

  • a suite of projects aimed at increasing the uptake of managed aquifer recharge, which stores water underground for future use
  • projects exploring where and how we can use brackish or saline groundwater, which can be desalinated for use by communities, agriculture or other industries
  • a desktop study to identify areas across Australia that could increase reuse of wastewater for agriculture and urban green spaces
  • comprehensive water resource assessments to underpin sustainable development in northern Australia.

Science Strategy

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 and sets the strategic objectives for the Science Program, which include:

  • Provide safe and reliable water for regional and remote communities: for example, analysis of currently unused groundwater resources near a community, or investigating suitable technologies to improve water quality for First Nations remote communities.
  • Generate public benefit through responsible investment in water infrastructure for productive use: for example, identifying opportunities for sustainable development of water resources, including through comprehensive multi-disciplinary water resource assessments in northern Australia.
  • Build resilient water infrastructure that is environmentally sustainable and culturally responsive: for example, 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.

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

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Unlocking northern Australia

Through the NWGA Science Program, CSIRO is conducting water resource assessments in the Victoria River, Roper River and Southern Gulf catchments of northern Australia. These build on, and use a similar approach to, previous assessments undertaken in northern Australia through the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment project.

The CSIRO water resource assessments inform the development of sustainable water infrastructure in Australia’s north and underpin future economic development that supports local communities.

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