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Clearing the muddy waters

23 May 2014

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Dr Daniel Connell is a Research Fellow for the Environment and Development Program. Daniel works on governance issues relating to trans-boundary rivers and has written extensively about Australia’s Murray Darling Basin.

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A Crawford School academic has secured a new research project to improve urban water management in Indonesia.

Crawford School’s Dr Daniel Connell, in partnership with Soegijapranata University in Semarang in Indonesia, has been awarded $150,000 by the Australia Indonesia Infrastructure Research Awards program (AIIRA).

Connell is the co-leader of the 12-month project which is designed to improve urban water management in provincial cities throughout Indonesia and promote better relations with the surrounding rural communities.

“The project will conduct research in five cities in different parts of Indonesia ranging from Medan in Sumatra to Lombok in the east.

“There are two main components. The first is an investigation into the potential for payment for ecosystem service (PES) schemes to improve relations between urban communities and the rural communities in their catchments.

“Among other things this research will investigate the social and cultural impacts of PES schemes in rural communities.”

He said the research will look at ways to improve funding to support schemes and to reduce environmental effects.

“The second component involves research into the factors that reduce the capacity of urban water authorities to fund PES schemes.

“One of these factors is the tendency for wealthy urban residents to opt out of the city wide distribution networks. Many of them prefer to drill their own wells and be independent.

“This causes land subsidence in many places and reduces the economic viability of the urban water authorities which are not paid for the groundwater extractions,” he said.

The results of the project will be delivered to the five urban water authorities involved in the research in early 2015.

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