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IWC Master students explore Straddie's water issues

The world's second largest sand island, North Stradbroke Island, became a classroom to IWC Master of Integrated Water Management (MIWM) students over the weekend in the first week of the program.

North Stradbroke Island, 30km southeast of Brisbane, has world-wide appeal to tourists and adventure-seekers for its white sandy beaches, tranquil fresh water lakes and lush nature reserves. However, from Saturday, 25 to Monday 27 of February 2012, Straddie was not only a holiday destination but also a dynamic classroom to IWC MIWM students, eager to learn firsthand the significant water issues on the island.

Multidisciplinary teams of lecturers and students explored the island's sand mines, lakes and fresh water swamps that act as windows into the groundwater table. The students learnt about the island's important groundwater supplies, predominant industrial and urban uses of this water and the dependence on rainfall that runs off into creeks and lakes or soaks into the sand eventually becoming groundwater.

Darren Burns of the Quadamooka People spoke to the students about the tribe's native title rights and interests over land and waters on and surrounding North Stradbroke Island as well as how his people take, use, share and exchange traditional natural resources for personal, domestic and non-commercial communal purposes.

Other guest presenters on the trip included representatives from the Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management, the Stradbroke Island Water Action Group and global minerals/sand mining company Sibelco.

Using pieces of driftwood and other jetsam, the students created three-dimensional conceptual models in the sand to explore biophysical, social and political consequences. Concepts of engineering, groundwater hydrology, aquatic ecology, planning, anthropology, law and economics are woven through discussions of integrated, sustainable water management.

The field trip aims to introduce the students to the key concepts of integrated water management taught throughout the 12-month program. IWC Master of Integrated Water Management is one of the few courses in the world that take a truly integrated approach to teaching water management.


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