We’ve all had to make water decisions. Every day we make decisions on how much water to use, from how long we spend having a shower to whether water our garden or wash the car. From time to time we might make a decision to replace the dishwasher or install a more water-efficient shower rose. We might replant our garden with more drought resistant plants, or install a rainwater tank.

But you might not realise the extent that making good decisions about water is critical to Australia’s continued economic growth. Our sustainable development depends on the quality of the decisions we make about water.

What sort of water decisions are we talking about?

We’re particularly interested in the decisions made by people with a professional interest in water. Such a person might be:

  • responsible for managing the water distribution network of a city
  • developing policies to minimise the consequences of floods
  • planning new developments while minimising potential impacts on water quality
  • deciding how to allocate finite water resources between agriculture, industry and the environment
  • implementing our national water trading system
  • designing a water treatment device
  • trying to decide whether to recommend rainwater tanks to clients.

Or they might be thinking about the big-picture issues of the day, such as adapting our country to climate change. Or whether to further develop the water resources of northern Australia.

All of these decisions are complex and multifaceted. They require understanding a range of disciplines, including basic water science, engineering technology, ecology, policy and economics. And they require a holistic perspective, an ability to view decisions from lots of different angles.

Sometimes, making any decision is hard. Knowing how to make a good decision can be even more difficult.

The Intelligent Water Decisions Research Group is here to help

The Intelligent Water Decisions Research Group (or IWDRG for short) is a team of 40 researchers and academics. Based in the engineering faculty at the University of Adelaide, IWDRG ‘s intent is to help you make great decisions about water.

Our mission: To develop the tools, technology and insights that will help others make great decisions to manage humanity’s most precious resource: Water.

Find out what people are saying about water

Over the coming months, some of the things you can expect to see here include:

  • what the world’s top engineers and scientists are saying about water
  • the latest findings from our own research teams
  • commentary on the major water debates in Australia and overseas.

Learn what questions can be answered by great science

We will find out which questions can be answered by good science, and which questions are more subjective.

Certain elements of water decisions can be science-informed (spoiler alert: climate change is happening); but others are political, such as: what is the ‘right’ amount of water to return to the environment in the Murray-Darling basin? (Answer: it depends on how we value the trade-offs between agriculture, industry and the environment, and the value we place on the present versus the future).

Make sense of the data available to you as a decision-maker

The problem is no longer about getting access to data, but how to manage having too much data! Petabytes of data now stream from real-time monitoring of pipeline systems, measurements of our water resources, the outputs from the latest weather and climate models, and many other places.

Our challenge is to turn this data into valuable information that supports great decisions. The articles here will help you to make sense of the ever-increasing amount of data that is available.

What issues are important to you?

You—the water decision makers—are part of the discussion. Comment or email us with your suggestions of issues you’d like to see discussed here.