The 2018 Developing Northern Australia Conference is almost here again and will this year be held at Alice Springs Convention Centre over Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 June. 

Professor Jenny Davis, Dean, College Of Engineering, It & Environment at Charles Darwin University joins us at the Conference to discuss ‘Sustainable use of outback water’.


How do we share the very scarce resource that is outback water? How do we support extractive industries and intensive food production while maintaining the environmental and cultural values long associated with perennial springs, rockholes and desert rivers and lakes (that rarely flow or fill)? How do we ensure that the water used in the near future will not restrict the options available to future generations? Here I discuss how these key questions can be addressed through an Outback Water Plan.

We need a national arid zone groundwater and surface water management strategy that includes an evidence-based evaluation of the competing demands for Outback water and provides a coordinated approach that spans the Australian continent. An Outback water strategy needs to: ensure that Environmental Impact Statements (EIS’s) inform the approvals process with critical hydrological and ecological data; provide the knowledge, training and logistics needed by indigenous and local communities to manage and restore arid zone water sites; determine the location and extent of aquifers and catchments supporting key biodiversity and cultural sites; and identify the contribution of groundwater and surface water, and their interaction, to arid zone ecosystems structure and function. Exciting new scientific tools and methods exist to collect the information needed to support an Outback Water Plan. However, these need to be applied, and data collected, within a framework that will inform decision-making at a continental scale.


Professor Jenny Davis is the Dean of the College of Engineering, IT and Environment at Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, NT. Jenny has a PhD and BSc (Hons) from the University of Tasmania, was a Queens Fellow in Marine Science at the University of Western Australia, and held academic positions at Murdoch University, Monash University and the University of Canberra before joining CDU in early 2016. Jenny has published over 200 works, including books, peer-reviewed scientific papers and technical reports. She has a comprehensive understanding of the need to balance social, economic and environmental water needs in Outback Australia.

For more information on the 2018 Developing Northern Australia Conference and to secure your spot in Alice Springs this June please visit the conference website.