Systems Engineering for Water Management

Systems Engineering for Water Management

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Iven Mareels, Biomedical Engineering, University of Melbourne
Fine Hall 214

It is estimated that we harvest and utilize about 65% of the readily available fresh water resources of the world. In general, perhaps because water is perceived as an abundantly available resource, we use water rather poorly. Typically less than half the water taken from the environment serves the objective for which it was intended. The UNESCO World Water reports 2003 and 2005 identify in no uncertain terms a water crisis.In this lecture we provide an overview of a 10 year collaborative research and development effort, between the University of Melbourne and a local company Rubicon Systems Australia, and more recently with National ICT Australia.
The programme called Water Information Networks (WIN) is a systems engineering approach to water management in irrigation systems. Because irrigation accounts for 70% of the total water consumption, this is a logical place to start. The ultimate goal is to manage water at the level of an entire water catchment basin, accounting for surface and ground water and providing for the needs of all users, including the environment. WIN has developed a sensor/actuator network and a systems engineering approach to water management. The patented technology (commercialized as Total Channel Controlâ„¢) is now being deployed in Australia's largest irrigation district Goulburn Murray Water (GMW), consisting of 6800km of open irrigation canals servicing over 22,000 farms.
The objective for the open canal system is to deliver water on demand (in as much this may be feasible) with maximal overall efficiency meeting the competing demands.
We review the research work, including open questions, and discuss the WIN outcomes from a number of substantial pilot and commercial projects in Australia that have realized significant gains in either water efficiency or water productivity in irrigation.