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Industry collaboration to tackle water pollution in Myanmar

March 20, 2017

WIA member Hydronumerics Pty Ltd has joined forces with the CSIRO Land & Water Floreat to undertake a comprehensive baseline assessment of water pollution across the Ayeyarwady River Basin (ARB) in Myanmar.

The ARB is the country’s largest and most significant river basin and is important from both an economic and cultural perspective. It covers nearly two-thirds of Myanmar and is home to two-thirds of the country’s population. The trans-boundary basin is strategically important as large regions in the upper reaches lie in neighbouring India and China.

Rapid urbanisation, development of the industrial, agricultural and mining sectors and environmental change have all caused water quality issues across Myanmar. However, there is comparatively little information on the transport and fate of chemical pollutants in the surface and groundwater systems, monitoring is only ad-hoc, and information is often dispersed across a number of agencies and stored in a number of formats.

Hydronumerics Director Chris O’Neill says, “this work will provide the first ever spatially-disaggregated assessment of the potential pollutant loading across the ARB, based on economic and geospatial information of industrial, urban, mining and agricultural sectors”.

The work is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Water Partnership and complements other works packages funded by the AWP in Myanmar, focusing on providing a comprehensive ecological and hydrological assessment of the Ayeyarwady Basin.

The work will include an assessment of microbiological, chemical, nutrient and heavy metal pollutants, which will then be used to derive a coefficient-based approach to link specific pollutants with their source, and to develop hot-spot risk maps across the basin.

Chris recently returned from a one-week inception mission and says that the collaborative efforts of the Hydronumerics and CSIRO teams and the high level of technical expertise in the Myanmar counterpart teams have made for a seamless start to the project.

‘’I’ve worked with Dr Anu Kumar (CSIRO) in developing the first ever online Water Quality Index map of the Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh (India) and we have collaborated on many other projects. There is a high level of trust and performance in our team, and this is a great example of our water industry working together in the international arena’’.

The project will run until September 2016, and will include a series of young-water professional workshops, as well as capacity building seminars with the Directorate of Water Systems and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR), Myanmar.