Basant Maheshwari

Professor - Dean's Unit School of Science

I have over 30 years professional experience in the higher education sector, with a particular focus on teaching, learning and researching related to surface and groundwater management, irrigation, environmental management, regional water resources planning and sustainability.   In addition to my professional experience of over 25 years in Australia, I have worked in India for several years and spent sabbatical in the USA, Japan and the Philippines.

During the last ten years, my work has involved trans-disciplinary approach to water research and focussed on understanding how water, landscape and people interact and influence the environment and sustainability. My work involved modelling and analysing the water cycle for long-term water resource planning at regional level and examining the implications of social, economic, cultural, policy and institutional aspects of water cycle management. I have been involved in research into peri-urban water issues and balancing urban growth around cities and regional centres so that future urban areas are liveable, sustainable, affordable and resilient. 

Another important area of my research is sustainable groundwater use and management.  The overexploitation of groundwater resource in many parts of the world has led to rapid lowering of watertable and pumping of water (often high in salts and other pollutant) from deeper aquifers.  I currently lead a transdiciplinary research and development project in India, called MARVI: Managing Groundwater Use and Aquifer Recharge through Village-level Intervention.  The project is funded by Australian Centre for Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and is examining how the engagement of village communities and other stakeholders and the understanding of groundwater science can be integrated to improve the availability of water for crop production in the longer-term and increase livelihood opportunities for farmers.  The project has involved socio-economic and cultural understanding of groundwater issues and challenges and monitoring of watertable, rainfall, waterlevels in checkdams as well as field trials to identify water saving practices in selected watersheds in Rajasthan and Gujarat states.  The project has used citizen science approach to engage local villagers collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information to village communities.  PhotoVoice technique and MyWell app (iOS and Android) are also implemented to engage locals in groundwater management and collect data cost effectively.

An important learning out of my research during the last 15 years my work is that engaging with community, government agencies and other stakeholders is critical to address significant, local water and sustainability challenges. 

I have over 210 publications, including more than 80 articles in peer reviewed, international journals.

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