Connected Waters Initiative (CWI) Research Centre

The UNSW Groundwater Research Centre

Australia is often said to be the driest inhabited continent on Earth, but that's only because of its low rainfall.

In fact, we have massive reserves of the most precious of natural resources right beneath our feet in our groundwater.

Bore water, for example, from the Great Artesian Basin made it possible to open up vast inland areas for grazing livestock. Natural springs provide the millions of bottles of mineral water we consume every year.

Groundwater makes it possible to grow many of our crops and pastures. And we're looking increasingly to aquifers to provide drinking water for our growing towns and cities.

Groundwater is found in the voids between sediment grains in the subsurface. It can flow slowly like a river through aquifers or pool in great underground "lakes". Although hidden from view it is intimately connected with the rivers, streams, creeks, ponds, lakes and wetlands we can see above ground.

So, effective water management must consider surface water and groundwater as "connected" - a single resource.

Australia has doubled its groundwater use in recent decades. It now makes up more than one-fifth of all the water we harvest. Yet we don't know enough about the many and complex interactions between groundwater and surface water or how this knowledge can be applied to controversial issues such as coal seam gas development and water allocations in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

In many cases, we're still treating them as if they were separate resources and we know far too little about how to manage them sustainably.

The University of New South Wales Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre aims to help fill this critical gap in our knowledge through research, teaching and public education. You can read our vision and mission statements here, and our annual report here.

The CWI is jointly supported by the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering in recognition of the vital roles that both knowledge and technology can play in better understanding and managing Australia's water resources. Our multidiscipinary expertise includes staff from the Schools of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Mining Engineering; and Law.

The CWI manages Australia's groundwater infrastructure program, the Groundwater Education Investment Fund (GEIF), and CWI staff play leading roles in Australia's groundwater centre, the Australian Research Council and National Water Commission funded  National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT).

This site is a window into the UNSW Connected Waters Initiative Research Centre and was initially developed thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Mr Gary Johnston, CEO of Jaycar Electronics.

Latest news

CWI reviews heat tracing as a technique for quantifying groundwater flow

CWI reviews heat tracing as a technique for quantifying groundwater flow

3 February 2014

Subsurface temperature can be used to quantify surface water groundwater interactions simply by measuring the temperature at different depths in streambeds.

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Groundwater monitoring at Wellington Caves: media coverage

Groundwater monitoring at Wellington Caves: media coverage

30 January 2014

Research undertaken by CWI at Wellington Caves to track groundwater movement was the focus of televised media coverage last week.

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PhD Opportunities in water, groundwater and climate

PhD Opportunities in water, groundwater and climate

28 January 2014

The Connected Water Initiative Research Centre (CWI), UNSW Australia, is seeking high quality International and Domestic applicants to apply for PhD positions to start in July 2014.

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Study to assess water connectivity in the Condamine

Study to assess water connectivity in the Condamine

18 January 2014

The project, led by Associate Professor Bryce Kelly from the Connected Water Initiative Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, will assess the extent of hydraulic connectivity between aquifers used for gas production from within the Walloon Coal Measures and aquifers used by farmers in the Condamine Catchment in South-East Queensland.

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CWI at AGU Fall Meeting

CWI at AGU Fall Meeting

20 December 2013

The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in December was well attended by CWI staff.

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