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About us  - The independent think tank on water

This website is about innovation in water, it is an independent water think tank with no affiliations to the Governments or any commercial organisation. 

Almost daily we hear about the water crisis, either here in a wealthy highly urbanised country like Australia or in poverty stricken countries like Ethiopia.

If we imagine how water may be managed say a hundred years into the future we see that the picture has changed dramatically, with both new technologies and different philosophies on how we use water.  The era of reliance on mega dams will surely have passed; - the technologies we now see as emergent, such as recycling and desalinisation by membrane technologies will have been replaced by small scale biological methods as energy consumption becomes a greater issue.

Our towns and cities will be designed around water needs, old cities modified where practical, and new developments designed to make more effective use of local water.

The benefit of imagining so far into the future is that is helps us to plan what actions we should be taking now for the next decade.  It is undeniable that our whole attitude, technologies and management methods will be subject to rapid change.

Our Governments, both Federal and State are allocating billions of dollars to solving the water problem showing a total commitment to the issue.  But bureaucratic organisations are not good at change or innovation, the internal pressures to conform and fit within the formal procedures kill off creativity. 

The need for creativity and innovation has certainly been cited by the bureaucracy as an important need, for example the Land and Water grants for blue sky research, but the conventional wisdom that we can resolve our water problems by massive spending on 'more of the same' is still firmly entrenched.

But creativity does not come out of thin air, there are distinct processes which lead to innovation, the first theme of my web site.

You can see by reading About Colin Austin-the story that I have a proven track record in innovation and a commitment to solving the water crisis and have published widely on the process of innovation and finding solutions to the water crisis. See publications 

We are not going to solve the water crisis by some gizmo. There is nothing wrong with low flow shower heads, but gizmos are not the solution.  The first step is to learn to think creatively.  Innovations and creativity are not random. There is a distinct process which leads to new concepts and ideas.  This is the theme of my book Water Wit and Wisdom – The search for solutions to the Water Crisis and the accompanying DVD  Solving the water Crisis  

Speculative research

Research into water issues are largely undertaken or financed by Governments, research while often highly competent is often restricted to highly focused targets  which often restricts the development of innovative ideas. (Competence research).

By contrast, speculative research is a style of research management aimed at innovation, the generation of ideas. The first idea is unlikely to be useful, but it leads onto a string of other ideas hopefully eventually leading to new concepts and paradigms.  It is high risk with a flexible approach, with generic, rather than specific targets, and with often rapid changes of approach, and willingness to explore new ideas as they occur.

View video clip on speculative research at SpeculativeResearch.mp4

Managing water

We look at managing the water crisis in Australia ,however the problems we face here are common throughout much of the world, in China, India, Asia, Africa, America and even wet Europe. 

You can read a summary of some of the issues in Australia at PhantomWaterCrisis.pdf

We also look at the problems of providing sustenance food in poor regions of the world, in sub-Saharan Africa such as Ethiopia for example, where lack of water is causing widespread hardship and even starvation.  Yet simple technologies like the wicking bed, developed for subsistence farmers in Africa are a key for resolving the water crisis in our cities.  Such is the interconnectivity and unpredictably of the process of innovation.

You can read a much more detailed analysis about organisation structure of water at OrgStructure.pdf

You can read about the history of the speculative research project into water at Innovations.pdf

Watropy

Watropy, analogous to entropy in the world of energy says that water has two dimensions, quantity and useful life.  We have relatively small volumes of water with a high watropy (useful life) and much larger volumes of water with a lower watropy, which we currently fail to use.  Just as in the field of energy, we need to be balancing the watropy of the water against needs, so freeing up the more valuable high watropy dam water.

You can read about watropy, the new paradigm; the second dimension of water at watropy.pdf

Wicking beds

Wicking beds were initially developed as a way of providing sustenance food in climates with erratic rainfalls.  They harvest water, improve irrigation efficiency and store water in the soil until the next rainfall. You can see the importance of wicking beds and the problems of creating a paradigm shift by viewing mary river.mp4 or for faster download mary river-lr.mp4

Irrigation-Adaptive scheduling

While the majority of Australians see the water crisis as an urban issue, the largest single user of water is irrigation (some 70% of total water usage).  The simplest and most cost effective way of improving the effective use of water is by adaptive scheduling.

You can read an overview at AdaptiveScheduling.pdf

and much background work at schedule.html

Solving the water crisis

You can view a 5 part series on Solving the Water Crisis by viewing these condensed videos at water_crisis_dvd.html

Or you can obtain a high resolution DVD disc by contacting me at mailto:colinaustin@bigpond.com

Publications

You can list the various publications at Publications.html

Developing Technologies

The nature of speculative research is that one idea leads onto the next, often with the dropping of the first idea which acts as a stepping stone in the thought process.  It often helps to get a better understanding of the final idea to look at the thought processes and that lead to the development of the  idea.  The original documents have been retained on this web site.

You can view the history of these developments by accessing the original web site by clicking here Original web

There is a great interest in sustenance food production in poor countries, and this is where much of the original thinking on this web site was carried out.  You can go directly to this area by clicking Ethiopia

Comments

I look forward to receiving comments on this web page, and have set aside an area for publishing these comments. 

You can read these at Blogs .

Links

I have also included a section with links to other web sites.  If you have an interesting web site please let me know and I will include it in the list. websites

The Eco Village

 Interested in trying out life in an eco village - click here

View the DVD series on Kookaburra park Eco Village - click here<script

 

Last update july 06 2.43


   

 

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