International Association of Hydrogeologists Australia

Bridging the gap between groundwater users, decision makers and science

Sunday 12 May, 2013

This meeting was held at Golburn-Murray, Tatura on the 30th of April. PDF copies of the presentation will soon be available, via links at the bottom of this post.

Scientists are often challenged with trying to convey a technical message to a layman audience, who are often the decision makers.

At this IAH meeting three perspectives will be presented:

  • a researcher/hydrogeologist (Bruce Gill, DPI)
  • a resource manager (Simon Cowan, GMW); and
  • a groundwater users (Craig Madden, Avenel Farmer).


Bruce Gill – Senior Research Hydrogeologist, Department of Primary Industries


Bruce will talk briefly about some findings from his PhD study on what groundwater users think about their supply, its regulation and their information needs.  As part of a study that is looking into the role of 3D visualisation of groundwater systems in improving understanding and management outcomes, background research has involved speaking to over 30 groundwater users in the Campaspe and Upper Loddon areas during 2012.  In conversations lasting well over an hour in most cases, users provided valuable insights into nearly 50 questions about such topics as: their knowledge of groundwater; their views on the need for management plans and what sort of information products they like to see.

In helping set the scene for this IAH Q&A style forum, Bruce will highlight some key findings that relate to the forum topic of ‘Bridging the gap between groundwater users, decision makers and science’.


Since his first job with the Groundwater investigations unit in the rural water Commission in 1986, Bruce has gained experience in both water resource hydrogeology and catchment  management hydrogeology (salinity).  Work with SKM during the early days of establishing Groundwater Management Plans highlighted the need for good data to support managers and users through the management plan process.  Subsequent work in the Research division of DPI was on a project exploring the potential of 3D visualisation of aquifers to improve understanding of groundwater resources.  From this 3D visualisation project arose the PhD study (through La Trobe University) that is exploring some of the social dimensions of groundwater resource science and management need.

Simon Cowan – Manager Groundwater and Stream, Goulburn-Murray Water


In his presentation Simon will:

  • Briefly discuss how GMW has approached the critical issue of groundwater communication and stakeholder engagement
  • Touch on the key lessons learned from GMW’s experience
  • Offer a perspective on the future communication and engagement challenges GMW faces in seeking to bridge the gap between groundwater users, decision makers and science


Simon works for Goulburn-Murray Water, and has held a number of water operations and resource planning roles over the past 10 years.  Simon’s currently manages Goulburn-Murray Water’s Groundwater & Streams section; which is responsible for developing groundwater management plans, overseeing groundwater resource assessment programs, and providing expert technical advice to support licensing and management of groundwater use.

Prior to his time at G-MW, Simon worked as a hydrographer with Thiess Services and managed several groundwater and surface hydrometric programs across Victoria and NSW.

One of the key challenges for Simon and his team is how to best utilise and convey groundwater information and engage with groundwater users; while at the same ensure management planning outcomes are grounded in good science and make best use of available resources.

Craig Madden – Farmer, Avenel, Victoria


Craig will provide a presentation on:

  • A perspective on the history of groundwater and natural resource management from a landholder/groundwater pumper and natural resource policy maker
  • How do we develop good policy and governance that we should put in place
  • Technical information is great, but what is the framework by which it all fits together.


Craig has farmed at Avenel for over 30 years, irrigating from the Goulburn deep lead aquifer for hay and cattle production.

Craig has a long history in groundwater and natural resource management. Craig is an inaugural member of Nagambie Landcare Group established in 1990; and has been active on a number of committees since then including: Chair of the Dryland committee of the Salinity Program Advisory Council (SPAC) from 1990 to 1994; Goulburn-Broken Catchment and Land Protection Board; Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority from 1987 to 2006; and he C haired the Regional Assessment Panel from 1992-2002.

Craig currently serves on the Victorian Catchment Management Council and with Goulburn-Murray Water on the Water Services Committee which he has done since 2004.

Click the links below for PDF copies of the presentations:

Simon Cowan Presentation


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