Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture: Josh Byrne to speak on Perth’s water challenges

Murdoch alumnus and presenter of ABC Gardening Australia Josh Byrne will speak at next week’s Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture.
Murdoch alumnus and presenter of ABC Gardening Australia Josh Byrne will speak at next week’s Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture.

ENVIRONMENTAL scientist and ABC television presenter Josh Byrne will use next Tuesday’s free Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture to examine how urban design can help address Perth’s water challenges.

Drawing on his PhD research and consultancy projects around Australia, the Murdoch alumnus is urging a fresh approach to the sourcing and supplying of water for homes and landscapes at various scales.

“Perth is experiencing a rapidly drying climate yet we continue to be among the highest water users in the world,” Mr Byrne said.

“Scheme water supplies are constrained and with around 40 per cent of residential supply being used in gardens, the risk of further restriction to prioritise drinking water is a real issue.

“Likewise groundwater for irrigation of green space is under pressure because of reduced rainfall and is unavailable in some development areas.”

In his talk, Mr Byrne will discuss new approaches to water sensitive urban design at a precinct and district scale and why new technologies and governance approaches are essential.

“We need to think more carefully about how we use water in our homes, buildings and suburbs so we can sustain the green spaces in private and public areas. These are what make Perth so livable,” he said.

“Among the solutions is the need for alternate water sources at various scales, such as community bores and sewer mining, to name some examples.”

Mr Byrne has consulted to government and industry nationally in urban water and green space design and management.

He won Murdoch University’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Science and Engineering in 2014 is the Australian Water Association’s WA Water Professional of the Year.

Mr Byrne’s PhD thesis, submitted in July and currently under examination, looks at opportunities for sustaining residential landscapes with lot-scale alternate water systems.

It involved designing, building and monitoring three award-winning case study gardens in the Fremantle area.

“My talk will also be touching upon the technologies we utilised and integrated into these small scale properties. There have been some really great advancements in recent years,” he said.

“I will also be discussing the importance of personal behavior to water management and Perth’s water use culture.”

Mr Byrne’s talk will be held in the Kim Beazley Lecture Theatre at Murdoch’s Perth Campus on Tuesday, September 20 from 6pm to 8pm.

To attend, please RSVP by Friday, 16 September to