Monash University professor recognised for 30-year study to bring millions worldwide safe water supply

A Monash University Professor and his team have created an initiative to provide urban water security to millions of people across the world. 

Professor Tony Wong, chief executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities at Monash University, received the 2018 IWA Global Water award for the program. 

The biennial award, which recognises global leadership in water management, was presented to him in Tokyo, Japan, on the 16th of September.

In collaboration with his Monash University colleagues, Wong has spent more than 30 years pioneering a program of work called the Water Sensitive Cities Approach, which addresses the social, environmental and economic challenges of global water management.

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Through a combination of science and hydro-engineering, Wong said he’s been able to create blueprints for water security that can transform cities, and the health and wellbeing of their residents, globally.

“This work has advanced a new understanding of the relationship between the societal and biophysical dimensions of water security from drought, floods, environmental pollution and city waterscapes,” he said.

“Our aim is to deliver sustainable urban water outcomes underpinned by creative design, and technical and scientific rigour,” said Wong. 

Wong’s strategy has been adopted in multiple cities across the world and led to sustainable water developments and projects that have improved water supplies in densely populated areas and urban slums.

Singapore has been able to create a more self-reliant water supply by harnessing stormwater as a valuable resource. 

The city of Kunshan – located between Suzhou and Shanghai in China – has achieved remarkable levels of sustainability, resilience and liveability by adopting this water strategy.

Working alongside Monash Professors Rebekah Brown, Karin Leder, Steven Chown and Diego Ramirez-Lovering, Wong’s water research also extends to hygiene and disease prevention in Fiji and Indonesia.

The project aims to turn informal settlements into independent sites that recycle their own wastewater, harvest rainwater, create green space for water cleansing and food cultivation, and restore natural waterways to encourage diversity and deal with flooding.

“I am honoured to receive this award which acknowledges my lifetime work in water-sensitive urban design,” said Wong. 

Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities chair Cheryl Batagol said the award recognises Wong’s determination and vision to create an approach to help overcome the obstacles people face in an increasingly urbanised world that is also tackling the effects of climate change.