Technology Demonstration

The centre showcases and demonstrates five innovative technologies in water resource management.


  • A leading innovation in groundwater monitoring and management technology developed by Chinese Agricultural University will be demonstrated in Southern Rural Water, Victoria
  • Control gate and integrated channel flow technology for improving water use efficiency developed by National ICT Australia (NICTA) and Rubicon will be demonstrated in a north-western inland river basin, China
  • The Institute of Remote Sensing Application (CAS) and the CRC for Spatial Information will conduct a joint field campaign to demonstrate the application of remote sensing in water management in both countries
  • The University of Melbourne, Tsinghua University and Shandong University will, along with industry partners, demonstrate water recycling technologies and water pollution identification approaches in both countries
  • China’s innovative science and technology in water engineering in the Yellow and Hai River Basins, and the Three Gorges Dam Corporation will be made available to Australian water mangers/engineers.
Technology project Chinese leader and organizations Australian leader and organizations Funding agencies Case study location Current status
Total channel control system Zhongjing Wang, Tsinghua Patrick Wang, Rubicon MWR-Tsinghua-GWRD-Shule-Rubicon Shule, Gansu Commenced, full demonstration to be implemented
Water trading Zhongjing Wang, Tsinghua David Lewis, DEPI MWR-Tsinghua-GWRD-Shule Shiyang, Gansu Commenced, pilot system is being tested in China
FarmNet Zhongjing Wang, Tsinghua Khusro Saleem, NICTA MWR-Tsinghua-GWRD-Shule-NICTA Shule, Gansu, Shanghai In discussion, demonstration planned
Pollution monitoring and analysis Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Nanjing University Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management (CAPIM) and the University of Melbourne     Several small projects have been conducted in collaboration. A joint-lab has been installed in Shengyang, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Remote sensing and ground water mapping Chinese Academy of Sciences The University of Melbourne     A joint field campaign in both Australian and Chinese sites is planned through Australia Research Council Discovery Project and Chinese Academy of Sciences proposals.

Location of the four exchange programs in China

Technology Exchange Details

1. Adapt the Australian smart channel and irrigation system in different physical environment (Technology 1 and 2)

These are big challenges to apply Australian smart channel and irrigation system in Chinese more broadly Asian physical environment. These include:

  • Reservoir water storage systems in Australia are designed to store several seasons of water supply. In Asian countries, reservoirs usually store one season’s water.
  • Canal systems in most Asian countries seem have a much lower storage to flow ratio than Australia.
  • Water supply is mostly rotated between Water User Associations. The WUA decides how water is then shared between fields much as would happen on one Australian farm.

Irrigation with solar panels on automatically controlled flow regulator.

This demonstration project has made good progress through joint efforts of Tsinghua University, Gansu Provincial Water Resources Department (GWRD), Shule River Basin Bureau, Rubicon, National ICT Australia (NICTA) and the University of Melbourne.

This initiative success has made Australian team access to:

  • A comprehensive Australian technology application proposal (Water Internet project) of 10 million Yuan led by Tsinghua University funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • A 3 million Yuan local fund (GWRD and Shule) to introduce, install and experiment and pilot TCC system (9 gates);
  • A 8 million Yuan joint fund (MWR, GWRD, Shule and tsinghua) to develop a sub irrigation system application project.

In addition, this initial success has brought several requests from other provinces in China. Recently, another team consisting of Wuhan University (research) and Guangdong Provincial Water Resources Department visited the University of Melbourne and Rubicon to express their strong interest to conduct collaborative research to explore the application of this TCC system to Guangdong province, a very different physical environment from the Shule in Gansu Province.

It should be noted that although there has been some initial success, there is still considerable need for applied research to do to make this Australian technology successfully (See attached report from Dr Su Ki Ooi and Assoc Prof Erik Weyer).

2. Applying the Australia’s water accounting, permitting and trading systems in China (Technology 3)

There are barriers (e.g. physical constraints, community awareness and readiness, management systems) for the introduction of Australia's system in China. There are needs of reflective learning in river basins in South-eastern Australia and Western China which lie in different water development stages. Experiences gained in these smaller basins will offer approaches that could possibly be used in the larger river basins.

This pilot trial project has made good progress in a sub irrigation scheme of the Shiyang River Basin through a joint effort between Tsinghua University, the Gansu Provincial Water Resources Department, the Shiyang River Basin Bureau, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and the University of Melbourne.

There is increasing interest in applying Australian style market-driven water management in China. This pilot project has fostered positive perceptions of Australia’s water management in China.

It should be noted that there is still a lot of research to do in order to establish success of Australia’s water accounting, permitting and trading system in China.

Map of northern Victoria, showing water sales from Kerang region redistributed to Mildura for horticulture and Goulburn Valley for dairying.

Australian water trading system

Screen shot of water trading website

Pilot success of Australia’ water trading system in Shiyang river of China

If further research in Technology (1), (2) and (3) is conducted in Asian regions, there is great potential for reinventing the irrigation management system in these regions. This will increase Australian economic benefits and strengthen its regional influence (See attached proposal).

3. Joint-research on water quality monitoring and analysis.

CAPIM's core techniques are biological, chemical and genetic: including in field and laboratory ecotoxicology, biomarker research, fish histology, animal morphology and animal behaviour, passive sampler design and use for trace organic chemicals, and metabolomics.

One joint project has been completed with the Joint Research Centre partners:

  • Allinson G (2013). Agricultural non-point source pollution control: A review. A report prepared for the Institute for Applied Ecology Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang. CAPIM Technical Report # 34. CAPIM, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria.

In the Chinese Spring 2013, Ms Kallie Townsend (CAPIM) visited the Institute for Applied Ecology

(IAE), Chinese Academy of Science in Shenyang, for a period of three months, to set up Chironomus.

cultures in the IAE’s newly established ecotoxicology laboratory, and to share knowledge regarding the techniques of maintaining and operating the lab.

The major outcomes so far have included a strengthening of Dr Graeme Allinson’s links to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in north-eastern China. Dr Xiaojun LI will visit the University of Melbourne in 2014-15 as a CSC Fellow to work with Dr Allinson and CAPIM staff.

Potential future benefits to Australia will primarily be economic, e.g. the full-cost education of Ph.D. Students in Victorian institutions (one IAE student has already enrolled at Deakin University), and the payment of direct salary costs for Australian researchers in research projects. CAPIM’s focus will now be on Nanjing University.

4. Remote sensing and ground water mapping

CAS and the University of Melbourne have their respective advantages in application of remote sensing and groundwater mapping in river basin management. A joint field campaign in the Haihe River Basin and Murray Darling Basin will increase data exchange and findings to inform policy/management. This joint field campaign is being planned through an Australia Research Council Discovery Projects proposal and a Chinese Academy of Sciences proposal.