Future Water CRC: funding within sight

Posted 12 September 2016

Australian water security research may be in for a decade-long boost with the bid for a Future Water Cooperative Research Centre shortlisted for Federal Government funding.

If funded, the Future Water Cooperative Research Centre (FWCRC) would aim to foster strong research collaboration between industry and academia to provide new water technologies and management solutions for impaired water resources. 

Impaired water resources include saline groundwater, municipal and agricultural wastewater, seawater, and oil and gas-produced water.

Water security

FWCRC Interim CEO Neil Palmer said the strength of the project lies in the strong support from affiliates South32, Osmoflo, Harvey Water and SA Water, as well as obvious interest from governments. 

“My conviction on research and development is that, everywhere in the world, it is enhanced by government support,” he said. 

“The strength in this project is that there is industry support, government support and the support of people who are committed to long-term research in Australia.”

Impaired water sources are plentiful in Australia, but expensive and difficult to treat, and finding solutions to water resource issues should be a key focus for Australia moving forward, Palmer said.

“Ten years ago, you might not have thought about [impaired water], but now we have demand for food, scarcity of water and a driving force to make all of this work,” Palmer said. 

“It’s timely; over the next ten years, if we don’t get the project up, will see a bit of a drought in regards to funding for water research. And that would be a shame in a country like Australia, the driest continent on earth.”

Palmer is confident the FWCRC is able to fit the Federal Government's request for research proposals that are capable of producing economic growth and development in future. 

“This whole push is focused on economic development and growth. It’s not about proposing research for the sake of doing research, it is about proposing research targeted at enabling people to turn resources into fresh water and become resilient and independent,” Palmer said. 

“We have encouraged industry to come in to research water technology for Australia as we think there are boundless opportunities to take our impaired water and make fresh water, giving us options to live and grow, and foster economic development through export to a world that’s short of food.”

Osmoflo Director Graham Dooley agrees, stating that converting unusable water to a quality suitable for industry use is an obvious boon for economic growth. 

“Osmoflo is a foundation member of the FWCRC because its whole business of advanced water treatment and supply is integral to this objective,” he said. 

“There can be no more important enabler of economic growth than having the right quality water in the right place at an affordable price.”

The proposed centre was among seven applicants to go through to the next selection round which requires applicants to develop a business case and be interviewed by the CRC Advisory Committee, which will prepare funding recommendations to Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Greg Hunt. 

Successful applicants can receive funding for up to ten years, which can be used to support the costs of research salaries, student placements, commercialisation, and capital items such as equipment.

Applicants must at least match the amount of grant funding sought through cash and/or in-kind contributions.

Selection outcomes are expected early next year with funding to commence by mid-2017.