Charles Sturt University researchers are leading a new research hub, facilitating ‘out-of-the-box ideas’ that can successfully manage regional Australia’s waterways, including a ‘fish pump’ and  fish-safe hydro power stations. 

Funded by the Federal Government, the $3.6 million Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub (NGWERMH) will be led by Charles Sturt’s Institute for Land, Water and Society.

The hub includes staff from the School of Indigenous Australian Studies and water engineers from the School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering.

NGWERMH projects include:

  • Partnering with a university in Germany to implement best-practice design of a fish-safe hydro power station – which will be the first time this technology has been applied in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Field testing an innovative ‘fish pump’ to provide fish migrations at large dams
  • Restoring traditional fish management strategies and techniques of First Nations people in the Northern Basin
  • Partnering with an American agency which has developed a remote water-quality testing unit, providing real-time data
  • Implementing a community-led fish tagging program

Funding to establish the NGWERMH will come from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Regional Research Collaboration program, which is funded as part of the Job-ready Graduates program.

NGWERMH will collaborate with Australian and international industry partners, universities, researchers and businesses, as well as First Nations Elders, to develop solutions to the current and future problems threatening inland Australia’s waterways, including poor water quality and diminishing fish stocks.

Professor Lee Baumgartner, leader of the NGWERMH, said, “It will act as an opportunity for us to trial innovative approaches for water management solutions, which regional Australia needs but which don’t really fit under any of the current frameworks.

“These ideas include partnering with a university in Germany to scope a design of a revolutionary new hydro power station, and creating a partnership with First Nations Elders in the Northern Basin to co-design an approach to restore traditional, cultural ways of managing fisheries.

“Charles Sturt University collaborates with our partners on research with impact, which is precisely what the Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub will produce,” Mr Baumgartner said.

Professor Baumgartner said collaboration with the University of NSW would be a crucial part in the NGWERMH’s work, with the university’s water research laboratory having been operational for almost 70 years.

Minister for Education and Youth, the Hon. Mr Alan Tudge, said the project would be a collaboration with other universities and local industry partners.

“We want our world-class research to be at the forefront of our economic and social success and we want regional universities to be a big part of that,” Mr Tudge said.

“By linking universities with local businesses, we increase the opportunity for findings to be translated into practical solutions that could then be commercialised, with benefits for the university, businesses and local jobs.

“I want to see more world-changing new ideas and revolutionary products developed right in our own backyard in regional Australia.”

In addition to the impactful research outcomes it will produce, the NGWERMH will support eight new, regionally-based positions within the University.

The funding is the latest in almost $40 million released in 2021 for Charles Sturt-led research and partnerships in agriculture, water and the environment, including:

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