ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training projects (2009-2014)

ILWS Strategic Research Area
Social Research for Regional Natural Resource Management

Australian Research Commission/National Water Commission, $815,000

Investigators/ Researchers

Prof Allan Curtis, Dr Emily Mendham, Dr Emily Sharp, Dr Michael Mitchell, Theresa Groth, Andrea Rawluk, Saideepa Kumar, Jennifer Sherry


ILWS researchers are contributing to NCGRT Program 5: Integration of socio-economics, policy & decision support systems. Key projects include:

Namoi project:

The NCGRT was contracted by the Cotton CRC to investigate the socio-economic and environmental impacts of water reform and climate change in the Namoi Valley.

Wakool Project:

The NCGRT, Murray CMA and NSW Natural Resources Commission funded research to test the application of resilience thinking as a process to assist water resource dependent communities identify alternative futures.

Wimmera social benchmarking project:

The NCGRT and the Wimmera Catchment Management Authority funded research that included a survey of rural landholders' perceptions of risk associated with groundwater pumping.
Four PhD scholarships have been part-funded by the NCGRT. They are:
Andrea Rawluk: governance arrangements for Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR)
Saideepa Kumar: environmental modelling for optimal outcomes of environmental watering
Theresa Groth: occupational identity in multi-functional landscapes
Jennifer Sherry: how decisions to evacuate or stay and defend are made


Journal papers include:

Mendham, E., and Curtis, A. (2014) What lies beneath? Rural landholder interpretation of the risks of aquifer exploitation. Journal of Hydrology 511: 180-189.

Mitchell, M., Curtis, A., Sharp, E. & Mendham, E. (2012). Directions for social research to underpin improved groundwater management. Journal of Hydrology, 448-449, 223-231.

Rawluk, A., Curtis, A., Sharp, E., Kelly, B., Jakeman, T., Ross, A., Arshad, M., Brodie, R., Pollino, C., Sinclair, D., Croke, B. & Querishi, E. (2012) Managed Aquifer Recharge in farming landscapes using large floods: an opportunity to improve outcomes for the MDB? Australasian Journal of Environmental Management DOI:10.1080/14486563.2012.724785

Reports include:

Sharp, E. & Curtis, A. (2012). Groundwater management in the Namoi: a social perspective. ILWS, CSU, Albury. Report No. 67

Griffith, R., Mitchell, M., Walkerden, G., Brown, V. & Walker, B. (2010). Building a framework for transformative action in the Wakool Shire. Transformation for resilient landscapes and communities project. ILWS, CSU, Albury. Report No. 61

A national workshop examining MAR  was convened by Prof Curtis with Prof Jakeman (ANU) and A/Prof Kelly (UNSW), in  April 2012. The workshop brought together NCGRT researchers, industry stakeholders and key government agencies to explore opportunities for MAR in farming landscapes.


Findings from the Namoi project were used to provide advice to the NSW Office of Water about how they can build trust with their groundwater customers.

Namoi survey data was used by the Cotton CRC funded integration project examining the impacts of water reform and climate change. 

Relationships established through the NCGRT led to other projects, including the GDE project in the North Central region of Victoria and involvement in the DPI led project assessing MDBA plan assumptions in relation to groundwater in northern Victoria.

Lessons from the Wakool project led to a successful bid for RIRDC funding for a project that will apply resilience thinking to NRM in northern Australia

Prof Allan Curtis
Charles Sturt University – Albury

March 2015