Ord project to explore international candidacy for basin
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Water is getting scarcer in many parts of Australia, but in other areas, like the Ord River Catchment, there is abundant water supply, leading to rare opportunities.
In a project supported by the National Program for Sustainable Irrigation (NPSI), Anna Price will explore whether this unusual situation makes the Ord Catchment an appropriate candidate for accreditation as a basin in the United Nations global hydrology program.
The water resources in the Ord Catchment in Western Australia are only partially utilised, with plans to expand irrigation in the area. This is unusual in Australia, and therefore a unique opportunity to learn how to better manage existing water use, and to incorporate updated knowledge into planning for irrigation expansion.
“If the Ord Catchment community decides to pursue accreditation, there will be access to information about irrigation experiences elsewhere,” said Anna.
“Lessons from other basins with similar issues could aid the long term sustainability of Australia’s irrigation development. This is particularly pertinent in the Ord, where irrigation expansion and development is a priority of the new State Government.”
Part of the United Nations International Hydrology Program (IHP), Hydrology for Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) is a global program that involves twinning water basins around the world to share knowledge. The program slogan is “real people, real catchments, real answers”, and it encourages the integration of scientific and local knowledge to better manage water resources.
The Ord Catchment could be involved through twinning with basins in other parts of the world that face similar environment, development and management situations. The Burdekin and Fitzroy River Catchments are already accredited as UNESCO-IHP HELP basins.
The project run by Anna Price will mostly be a scoping study to gain an understanding of the benefits, requirements and commitments that would stem from the Ord Catchment being part of the UNESCO HELP program. The major goal is to support the Ord Catchment community—business, Indigenous, local and state government and development groups—in making a decision about applying.
Anna Price has been working in the Ord irrigation area for five years, and is current manager of company Brolga’s Environment. Being awarded the ANCID/NPSI travel fellowship, which she completed in 2007, resulted in her interest in international knowledge sharing to improve environmental and resource management in irrigation systems and their wider catchments.
“Through this project, other regions and catchments in Australia may see the benefits from international knowledge sharing and of more strategic investments in knowledge development,” she concluded.
Contact: Sarah Leonardi, NPSI Program Officer (02) 6263 6000