A  collaborative research body aimed at improving sustainability practices of water use in the fringes of Australia's largest cities has been expanded.


The collaborative body, known as Water Management Innovation and Strategy Enhancement Partnership in Peri-urban Research (WISER) Network, will involve local councils, government agencies and the Universities of Western Sydney, Melbourne, New England and RMIT.


The network, which has operated for four years in Western Sydney, includes Blacktown, Hawkesbury, Liverpool and Penrith local councils, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and a number of universities collaborating with local water users to achieve greater harmony in water policy.


WISER Network principal scientist, Associate Professor Basant Maheshwari has been leading the peri-urban water research programs at UWS for over a decade. He says the expansion of the collaborative WISER Network model to Melbourne and other capital and regional cities reflects the universal challenges of balancing water needs.


"Australian cities are continuing to expand and much of the growth is on the fringes of our major centres where agricultural land and bushland are being converted to housing, commercial and industrial land. Getting the balance right to create sustainable development and sustainable regional water plans requires detailed knowledge of the local water sources and uses, appropriate land use planning and willingness for open collaboration," says Associate Professor Maheshwari.


"The WISER Network has developed the framework for successful collaboration and the guidelines for scientific analysis of complex water systems which can be adapted and applied to any peri-urban area."


"The principal focus of the research is aimed at determining what water and land is best used where and why," says Associate Professor Maheshwari.


The Memorandum of Understanding signed by UWS, University of Melbourne, University of New England, RMIT University, Blacktown City Council, Hawkesbury City Council, Liverpool City Council, Penrith City Council and the NSW Department of Primary Industries will continue the work in peri-urban parts of Sydney, Melbourne and other regions and cities across Australia.