- Research project
- – Western Pacific
Read the latest updates about the International WaterCentre, as well as contemporary water sector insights, water management news, and conversations with researchers, practitioners and students, from both Australia and abroad.
“When you make discoveries, you generate more unknowns. The same goes for water management. You can implement something, but the after effect is still unknown until it occurs or a crisis actually happens.” Kevin Chun Teck Lim hails from Malaysia’s Labuan Federal territory, a small island off the north-western coast of Borneo, known for its lush rainforests and picturesque beaches. He spent much of his childhood around water and he credits his upbringing to developing his appreciation of water. “I lived in a pretty diverse region – different cultures, languages and religions. My Dad is Chinese and my Mum is an indigenous person of Sabah, in Malaysia. But I grew up like a normal kid. I think my interest in water really started early on and built more with my career.” Kevin’s journey began with a Degree in Chemical Engineering from Universiti Teknologi Petronas in Malaysia. This led him to a graduate program with Continental Tyres. The program saw Kevin head to the other side of the world, to work in the Continental Tyres’ headquarters in Germany. Over the next three and a half years, he worked on a number of projects centered around European utilities. It was his experience working with utilities that made him want to know more about water resource management and conservation. His time in Germany also opened his eyes to the importance of environmental management. After seeing the care and effort put into the water sector in Germany, and in particular the stringent controls around water regulation, Kevin came to realise how different it was to his home in Malaysia. “In Malaysia, we don’t have the mindset of needing to save water. Eventually, we will be wasting water. And we also have leaks in piping everywhere because the water industry doesn’t care about fixing them, and this leads to big water losses.” Kevin hopes to use his experiences to help change the mindset of the people of Malaysia, to improve actions around water conservation. Ultimately, he hopes to use his skills and knowledge to change the way Malaysia and its people see water as a resource - a challenge he is eager to take on. Kevin Chun Tek Lim is a current Master of Integrated Water Management student at the International WaterCentre. About the author: Dahna Morrisson writes as a correspondent for the International WaterCentre, charged with exploring water challenges and the ways these challenges are managed around the world.
Water, sanitation and hygiene, or “WASH”, is central to human development and is linked with socio-economic improvement, environmental sustainability and good health outcomes. Water issues also exacerbate climate change and increase political instability and economic equality. According to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, globally some 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services and 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. In the world of international development, funding is a scarce resource. Getting the most amount of clean water and sanitation to the most amount of people is a critical mission. With many current financial solutions based in old-fashioned models of grants and aid money, alternative funding needs to be examined in order to achieve universal access to water and sanitation—which the World Bank estimated will cost $112 billion each year by 2030.
The International WaterCentre (IWC) will soon welcome more than 30 participants from across the Asia-Pacific region for the Asia-Australia Learning Week 2019, to discuss the role of decision support tools in water policy development, investment planning and the on-ground management of water resources. Learning Weeks are developed around specific themes and designed to stimulate dialogue and knowledge sharing between experts, policy makers, and practitioners, from both Australia and the broader Asia-Pacific region. The Asia-Australia Learning Week 2019 is funded by the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) and facilitated by the IWC, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and delivery partners eWater and Alluvium. The Asia-Australia Learning Week 2019 is the third time the IWC has led a Learning Week. “The IWC has led the successful delivery of the 2016 and 2017 Learning Weeks,” says Pablo Orams, Senior Project Officer and Learning Week Project Manager at the IWC. “This experience, together with our strong relationships with the ADB, the AWP, various governments, and academic and industry organisations from across the Australian water sector, has allowed us to build a comprehensive training program for the 2019 edition of the Learning Week. We are excited to welcome a diverse group of participants and to share our experiences, as well as learning from theirs” This year’s participants include senior government and water utility representatives from various ADB Developing Member Countries (DMC) from across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as key ADB staff working in water resource-related projects with DMC representatives. Represented countries include the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Mongolia and China. Participants will visit Canberra and Melbourne, locations that offer unique opportunities to explore Australian working examples of decision support tools and systems at use in the water sector.
From the mountains to the sea, New Zealand’s estimated 4,200 catchments are battling challenges brought about by agricultural growth, deforestation, an increasing population, and urban development. Despite the common issues they face — contamination, nitrogen leaching, sediment run-off, and sewage overflow, among others — each catchment is different and needs a custom-built solution to restore its health, improve its quality, and ensure enough water supply for future generations. This tailored approach is the driving force behind the Greater Wellington Region’s whaitua committees. Instead of relying on a one-size-fits-all policy for the entire region, the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) decided on a more collaborative model. “It’s a mix of us wanting to do things more on a catchment scale and also to involve communities in decision-making,” says Alastair Smaill, program leader for urban water management at GWRC and the past program manager for whaitua committees. Deriving its name from the Māori word for designated area or space, a whaitua committee is tasked with recommending ways to improve and maintain the quality of freshwater in its catchment. The committee consists of representatives from the GWRC, the iwi (Māori word for tribe), the local council, and the local community. To develop a vision that’s unique to their catchment, committees need to understand how their communities use and value water, what their problems are, and how they want to solve these issues. “It’s about gathering an understanding of what community values are and then looking at decisions through that lens of community values,” Smaill says. The information gathered is then combined with scientific and economic data and presented to the community.
Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia in Spain, is turning to artificial intelligence to avoid water supply problems like those that plagued Cape Town in 2018. The city’s water supply authority, Aigües de Barcelona, is working with the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) on measures to improve water supplies and increase the efficiency of desalination operations. In one joint project, the BSC modelled the network of more than 100,000 water supply pipes across Barcelona to see which ones were most likely to fail. The work is helping Aigües de Barcelona carry out preventive maintenance to stop breakages before they happen, avoiding losses from the more than 187 cubic hectometres of drinking water the city uses every year. Another project, due to go live in 2019, will see the BSC using artificial intelligence to help improve the operation of a critical drinking water treatment plant, in the town of Sant Joan Despí near Barcelona.