top of page
Sustainable water security in northern Australia

Northern Australia


  • Northern Australia’s water resources must be well understood and expertly managed to sustain the natural environment, communities and economies.

  • This research maximises constrained water resource opportunities in Northern Australia through rigorous scientific measures, ensuring environmental preservation amid economic aspirations.

  • We are investigating catchment flows, groundwater dynamics, aquatic species, Indigenous people’s values and aspirations, governance systems, agriculture, and more.

Key points

Sustainable water security in northern Australia


Damien Burrows

Director, TropWATER Founder

Research leads

Issues constraining sustainable water resource utilisation across Northern Australia

Northern Australia boasts vast land areas, ample rainfall, and abundant water resources, making it a favourable region for agricultural expansion and developing water security.

However, this expansion could pose a significant threat to the region's biodiverse aquatic ecosystems, disrupting water quality and the natural flow essential to ecosystems in both wet and dry seasons.

Many questions remain to be answered about these ecosystems before sustainable utilisation of available water can be achieved.

Investigating optimal water resource management

Our researchers are exploring how to maximise water resource allocation across the vast and diverse landscapes of Northern Australia, advising policymakers on potential impacts to ecosystems.

Under the Water Security for Northern Australia program, scientists from JCU TropWATER, Charles Darwin University and CQ University are examining targeted catchments from Western Australia to eastern Queensland, including the Gilbert River, Lower Fitzroy River, Daly River, and Ord River irrigation area.

Within this project, our research includes:

  • Investigating water flows and dynamics, including groundwater and seasonal waterholes, to better understand water availability and distribution.

  • Assessing potential impacts on catchments due to climate change pressures, providing crucial data to forecast and mitigate adverse effects.

  • Integrating Indigenous values and traditional knowledge to ensure culturally sensitive and sustainable water management practices.

  • Exploring ecosystem and species' responses to water resource changes, aiming to protect biodiversity and maintain ecological balance.

  • Enhancing water management and decision-making processes by providing scientific evidence and practical solutions to policymakers.

  • Assessing the impact of development on ecosystem services to guide environmentally responsible decisions.

Guiding managers on sustainable water management solutions

Our research provides crucial insights that guide water management decisions. This helps to maximise constrained opportunities in Northern Australia through rigorous scientific measures, ensuring environmental preservation amid economic aspirations.

By integrating scientific evidence with practical solutions, we are helping to balance human needs with environmental preservation.

bottom of page