A lawyer and a resource economist from UWA are helping lead a national research program that aims to improve the management of Australia’s vital groundwater resources – a resource that Perth depends on.
UWA Law School’s Associate Professor Alex Gardner and Winthrop Professor David Pannell, from the UWA School of Agricultural and Resource Economics, are two of the chief investigators in the new National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training.
“Groundwater is extremely important to Perth, as we rely on it for domestic consumption to a greater extent than any other Australian city,” said Professor Pannell. “However, the amount of groundwater available has been declining steadily in recent years,” Professor Pannell said.
An Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, Professor Pannell is one of Australia’s leading experts on groundwater-driven dryland salinity and a prominent advocate for natural resource policies that properly account for scientific evidence, economics and social preferences.
A collaboration between 12 universities and eight industry and government organisations, the new interdisciplinary national centre will receive $55 million in Federal Government funding over five years and involves Australia’s top researchers in the area.
Professor Gardner and Professor Pannell will focus their research efforts on policy, institutional law, governance and economic issues.
Professor Gardner regularly teaches water resources law for the UWA Centre for Mining, Energy and Natural Resources Law and is the lead author of Water Resources Law, LexisNexis 2009. He advised the State Government’s Department of Water on water resources law reform from 2006 to 2008.
Although that process stalled in 2008, Professor Gardner said the new State Government had acknowledged its importance with the release of a Discussion Paper on Water Resources Management Options in November 2009. He said groundwater management would be central to the renewed program of law reform.