CSIRO’s Future Manufacturing Flagship Director Clive Davenport said the collaboration will also drive a new sensor manufacturing industry for Australia.

“The cluster collaboration addresses a fundamental need to understand, monitor and protect our aquatic environments while at the same time opening up new opportunities for enhancing Australia’s manufacturing capability for local and global export markets,” Davenport said.

NSW Chief Scientist and Scientific Engineer Professor Mary O’Kane launched the $9.6 million multi-facility research collaboration Cluster ‘Sensor Systems for Analysis of Aquatic Environments’.

Professor O’Kane said sensing technologies will improve our understanding of aquatic ecosystems and assist in conservation and resource management.

“They also provide valuable inputs into global weather and climate models to develop further our understanding of climate change processes and possible adaptation responses,” Professor O’Kane said.

Cluster leader Professor Justin Gooding said the initiative comprises five research and development projects, which could prove vital for the well being of Australia’s aquatic environment.

“We can’t manage our precious water assets without understanding their chemical and biological composition,” Professor Gooding said.

The sensors will monitor phosphate and nitrate nutrients, pesticides and pathogens and are designed to be used in both fresh and marine waters.

“Australia’s marine and fresh water ecosystems are some of the most prized aquatic environments in the world,” Professor Gooding said.

“Understanding those environments, and the variability in their chemical and biological constituents, is the key to preserving them.

“Sensors play a pivotal role in achieving this understanding and protecting our valuable water bodies.”

The project is supported through CSIRO’s Flagship Collaboration Fund and brings together CSIRO’s National Research Flagship Program, the University of NSW, Griffith University, Curtin University, Monash University, Flinders University and La Trobe University.