International Course On River Basin Management: 2013 Course

The international river basin management course in 2013 was conducted in two stages:

Stage One

An intensive one week program was held at Tsinghua University in July. The purpose of this part of program was to give Chinese students knowledge and practice in river planning and management in the Yellow River and introduce them to management practices in the Murray-Darling Basin. The course structure is provided in the following table. Twenty students attended this program. Chinese students received one credit for this aspect of the course.

Topics presented at the course

Lecturers Topics

Prof Peter Scales

Water Quality Australia

Comparison between Australia and China

Prof Andrew Western

Water Resources in Australia

Comparison between Australia and China

Prof Zhongjing Wang

River planning and management

Prof Hongbo Yang

English reading in River Basin Management

Stage Two

The second stage of the course involved another intensive one week program at the University of Melbourne in August. A group of sixteen students were chosen from Tsinghua University to attend the course and 12 students were selected from the University of Melbourne. Tsinghua students received one credit for successful completion of the second stage of the course. The University of Melbourne did not receive credit as it had not been officially approved by the Academic Board of the University as a course for credit.

The course at the University of Melbourne comprised of six topics across the Murray Darling River Basin and the Yellow River Basin and a field visit to Goulburn Valley. These six topics included Understanding the Murray Darling Basin, Development of Water Resources, Drivers of Reform, Water Productivity, Comparison between the Murray Darling Basin and the Yellow River Basin, and the Yellow River Basin Management over 5000 years. The detailed structure of the course is provided in the table below.

Course Structure

Course topics Contents

Understanding the Murray Darling Basin

  • Overview of the Basin
  • Australia’s Uncertain Climate — The major driver of water reform
  • Water Resources — Impact of Climate & Land Use Change

Development of Water Resources

  • Governance
  • Water Allocation Policy
  • Environmental Impacts of River Regulation

Drivers of Reform

  • Economic reform: COAG 1994 - Water Markets
  • Environmental reform: The Water Act (2007) and The Basin Plan

Water Productivity

  • Technology
  • Opportunities for Mutual Benefit
  • Agriculture
  • Modernization of Irrigation Systems
  • Farming Systems and Smart Irrigation
    • Environment
  • Environmental Works and Measures
  • Management of Environmental Water Holdings

Comparison between the Murray Darling Basin and the Yellow River Basin

  • Comparison between the Murray Darling Basin and the Yellow River Basin from the perspectives of law, governance, policy and management practice

The Yellow River Basin Management in 5000 years

  • The history of management strategies of Yellow River in last 5000 years
  • The story and executives of “87” Act of water allocation in Yellow River
  • The Challenge of environmental flow of Yellow River in recent years

A field trip to the Goulburn Valley

  • To see firsthand the complexities involved in modernizing an irrigation system in the river basin system, including its irrigated farms. This included an overnight stay at the University of Melbourne’s Dookie Campus where a variety of agricultural and water technology were demonstrated.


Nine organizations across university, research institutes, governance departments, the water industry and consulting companies were involved in this one-week program. 30 people were involved in lecturing and coordination of the course, as outlined in the table below.

Organizations Name of Lecturer

Aither Consulting

Mr Will Fargher

CSIRO Land and Water

Dr Ian Prosser

Dr Francis Chiew

Dr Lu Zhang

Dr QJ Wang

Department of Environment and Primary Industry, Victoria

Mr Campbell Fitzpatrick

Goulburn-Murray Water

Mr Peter Egglestone

2 Water Managers

Murray-Darling Basin Authority

Dr Sharon Davis

Dr Ben Dyer

Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre

Dr Darren Baldwin

Rubicon Water

1 Technical Expert

The University of Melbourne

  • Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Department of Electronic Engineering
  • Department of Infrastructure Engineering
  • School of Land and Environment
  • School of Law
  • School of Earth Science

Prof Peter Scales

Prof Iven Mareels

Assoc Prof Erik Weyer

Prof Andrew Western

Prof John Langford

Assoc Prof Michael Stewardson

Dr Yongping Wei,

Dr Dongryeol Ryu

Prof Snow Barlow

Dr Kithsiri Dassanayake

Prof Sandford Clark

Dr Anita Forester

Prof David Karoly

Tsinghua University

Prof Zhongjing Wang


Sixteen students of Tsinghua University came from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Governance, the School of Environment and the School of Civil Engineering. Twelve students of the University of Melbourne came from the Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Department of Electronic Engineering, School of Land and Environment and Office of Environment Programs. For details, please see the table below:

Name of University Departments/Schools Number of Students

Tsinghua University

School of Social Science


School of Governance


School of Environment


School of Civil Engineering


The University of Melbourne

School of Engineering


School of Science


School of Land & Environment



Examination included two parts, namely presentation and mini-thesis. Five groups of 6 students prepared 20-minute presentations on the five most important issues and associated research questions they had identified. A mini-thesis of 3500–4000 words on one of topics covered in the course was required for each Tsinghua student. The thesis was rated as Pass or Fail.


The international course was financially supported through the Australia China Centre on River Basin Management (led by the University of Melbourne) and by Tsinghua University. Tsinghua University and the University of Melbourne also made significant in-kind contributions to this course by providing the major lectures, lecture rooms and other facilities. Aither Consulting, CSIRO Land and Water, Department of Environment and Primary Industry, Victoria, Goulburn-Murray Water, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre and Rubicon Water contributed to the course by providing lectures, field visits or factory visits.


A short survey was conducted after the course and all students from both universities rated this course at excellent and/or very good indicating that the course was well run and highly valued. The students welcomed an overwhelming majority of topics. The students especially enjoyed the field trip to the Goulburn Valley. In addition, students from the University of Melbourne expressed a strong interest in attending the course in China next year.


It is proposed that this international course be registered at the University of Melbourne as a 12.5 point graduate level selective subject in Engineering. The course is to be delivered at Tsinghua University next year and the University of Melbourne will select and organize a group of student to attend this course.


Download 2013 Report: River Basin Management Course 508kb

Prof Peter Scales, Prof Andrew Western and Dr Yongping Wei, from the University of Melbourne, with Tsinghua University Students in Beijing, July 2013