Growing populations, drought and desalination were among urgent issues addressed by a conference of young water researchers at UNSW this week.

About 140 young researchers and water industry executives from around the world met at UNSW for the 5th International Water Association Young Water Professionals Conference.

Conference chairman Dr Rita Henderson, of the UNSW Water Research Centre, said the forum brought together the next generation of water experts who will deal with increasingly pressing issues across all aspects of water supply.

"These young water professionals - researchers and industry practitioners - are the future of the global water industry," Dr Henderson said.

"It's important for everyone to have an understanding of what's going on in all sectors of the water industry and events such as this help people learn from each other and learn that one solution isn't going to work in every situation."

The three-day conference included presentations by researchers from Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom, Asia, Africa and the United States and visits to Sydney facilities including the Kurnell desalination plant.

"Australia is at the forefront of sustainable reuse, we have some of the most advanced water treatment and supply projects in the world here so there was a high level of interest among the delegates," Dr Henderson said.

Alongside the presentation program a "World Café" forum was held for young delegates to workshop ideas.

"Water sanitation for developing countries was one of the key points but there was also a common theme that greater education and awareness on water issues is needed," Dr Henderson said.

"There was also a lot of discussion about the importance of lowering the carbon footprint of the water industry for desalination and treatment technologies. There is a lot of effort focused on this area at the moment."

New Zealand researcher Charlotte Yates won the award for Best Platform Presentation of the conference for her work on reducing agricultural runoff, while Nepalese researcher Vishnu Pandey won Best Paper for his work on estimating the groundwater storage potential of aquifers in Kathmandu.

See full details of presentations at the conference here.

Media Contact: Dr Rita Henderson | 02 9385 5227 |

UNSW Media Office: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 |