Community Engagement

Rural, regional and remote communities are currently being greatly affected by changing water use practices, and must effectively tackle water sustainability issues to secure their economic and social health in the future.

The Institute for Water Futures is keen to establish productive and effective relationships with such communities as they prepare for more resilient water futures.

Together we can aspire to achieving a good fit between policy outcomes and community needs. If you would like to find out more about how we can work with your community please reach out to us at waterfutures@anu.edu.au.

Existing relationships: Coleambally Irrigation Co-Operative Ltd (Coleambally Irrigation) 

The Institute for Water Futures and Coleambally Irrigation have been working together to explore water management techniques in the Coleambally irrigation area.  in the Riverina of New South Wales, Australia, in Murrumbidgee Council.  

Specifically, the team are investigating how managed aquifer recharge (MAR) might be adopted in the region. Increasing capacity to manage recharge via MAR, the purposeful recharge of surface water into aquifers, is critical in the Australian context: irrigators regularly use both surface and groundwater; groundwater is used as a primary water source in dry years; and there is a need to capture and account for every drop of water allocation. IWF's work together with Coleambally Irrigation particularly tackles the fundamental issue of ensuring that any future MAR works within the current or future rules and policies of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the Water Resource Plans and Water Sharing Plans, and that property rights are not impacted. 

As part of a project funded by the Cotton RDC, the Institute for Water Futures and Coleambally Irrigation have developed a set of scenarios describing the use of MAR for enabling conjunctive surface-groundwater use, supporting community resilience, and capturing flood flows.  

These scenarios highlight first steps worth pursuing: more closely integrating decision making about surface and groundwater use within the district; identifying how much water is needed to maintain communities and supply chains; and developing pilot studies to develop and test MAR capabilities. 

The Institute for Water Futures is able to operate as a long term partner to develop and test innovative solutions such as MAR, and deploy interdisciplinary expertise to work with communities to help resolve uncertainties and establish the mechanisms required to ensure economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable outcomes. 

 

Images: (left) The Murrumbidgee River near Coleambally Irrigation's main intake. (Right) Groundwater flowing into an irrigation channel. Coleambally already uses both surface and groundwater to complement each other - a strategy we are exploring further together.