Groundwater contributes around $36 billion [2016 adjusted] per annum to the Australian economy, without even accounting for non-market values for ecosystem services. However, in Australia and many other countries, groundwater is being extracted well beyond sustainable levels, placing those resources at risk.

Dr Md Sayed Iftekhar, Senior Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia, and Project Leader of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC)’s Integrated Research Project 2, has proposed a comprehensive study of cap and cap-and-trade systems to limit groundwater extractions and make groundwater trading feasible, practical, and beneficial.

These systems place legal limits on the amount of groundwater that can be used, and can also allow for trading of those water rights to create efficiencies. Currently, groundwater markets in Australia are not well developed, yet they could be a crucial tool in the fight to protect our water supply and the environment.

Each year, out of proposals numbering in the thousands, the Australian Research Council provides roughly 200 Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards to “support excellent basic and applied research by early career researchers.” Dr Iftekhar’s proposal has made it through the highly competitive selection process, and work on this valuable project will commence in 2018.

Congratulations Dr Iftekhar!