Bequest leads to new direction in water research

7 April 2020

Beryl John, inspired by the University's leading environmental research, committed a bequest in her will to ANU. Established in her mother's name, the Hilda John Endowment supports education and research in environmental land and water problems.

On making her bequest, Beryl reflected, "In common with others of my generation, I find that I cannot waste - not water, energy, air or soil, nor consumer goods or cash - and as a result, at the end of my life, I have assets to give away. My hope, of course, is that they will be well used".

Dr Barry Croke, Associate Professor, Integrated Catchment Assessment and Management, The Fenner School of Environment & Society as well as the Mathematical Sciences Institute, is currently realising Beryl's vision with the support of the Hilda John Endowment.

"The funding is being used to carry out several projects, including an uncertainty analysis of the Queensland Paddock to Reef model," said Barry.

"Impacts on water quality on the Great Barrier Reef are an important part of protecting this key natural asset from future negative impacts, particularly given the stresses introduced through climate change. This will have important implications in terms of social, cultural and economic viewpoints."

The project also focuses on improving model predictions under climate change scenarios that can help guide catchment managers and policymakers.

"We are also trying to understand the impacts of extended periods of low flows on the water supply to rural and Indigenous communities like Brewarrina and Walgett. This has an impact on community health through increased concentration of sodium, as well as the environmental and social impact of potential algal blooms and fish kills."

Barry believes philanthropy plays a vital role in driving critical environmental research.

"The support received through the funding helps facilitate multi-disciplinary research across ANU, enabling advances to be made that would otherwise be missed.

"Our research is increasingly important in a world being impacted by factors like climate change and population growth. We seek to honour Beryl's vision through our work."

The project is a fitting tribute to the memory of Beryl's mother, Hilda John, who loved people and the land.

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