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John Williams (water scientist)

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John Williams
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
Scientific career
Australian National University;
Natural Resources Commission;
Charles Sturt University

John Williams is an Australian scientist whose life work has been in the study of hydrology and the use of water in the landscape and farming, including land salinity.


Williams grew up near Tumbarumba on a farm in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales.[1] He attended school in Queanbeyan near Canberra, before graduating from the University of Sydney with a degree in agricultural science and a doctorate in soil science and hydrology.[2]

Williams is a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and advocated for a rational debate on Australia's water resources.[3] He was Chief of the Division of Land and Water, CSIRO (Australia's premier government research organisation), in Canberra, when he retired in 2004. He served earlier at the CSIRO laboratories at Townsville in Queensland where, among other things, he studied the Great Artesian Basin and the transport of water from the Great Dividing Range into the outback of Queensland and New South Wales.

He also served as Adjunct Professor in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management at Charles Sturt University, and Chief Scientist and Chair of the NSW Department of Natural Resources’ Science and Information Board. Williams was also Commissioner of the New South Wales Natural Resources Commission between 2005 and 2011.[4][5][6]

Williams is an emeritus professor and research associate at the Australian National University;[7] and a commentator on environmental matters.[8]

In a feature article in a July 2009 edition of The Canberra Times Williams reportedly stated that there should be a sixty percent cut in water use across the Murray-Darling Basin, and the Snowy Mountains Scheme that diverts water to the Riverina should not be exempt from water savings.[4] In 2012, Williams was interviewed for commentary on the Murray-Darling Commission report.[8]

During his career, Williams has been honoured with the 2005 Farrer Memorial Medal for achievement and excellence in agricultural science and appointed in November 2011 as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE).[9]

In February 2018, Williams was a co-author of an article in The Conversation and co-signatory of the Murray Darling Declaration along with other concerned scientists.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John Williams Scientist with Faith". Canberra Region Presbytery. Uniting Church in Australia. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  2. ^ Schmidt, Lucinda (23 June 2010). "Profile: John Williams". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Special issue on water planning issues in Australia". Journal of Hydrology. International Water Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b Bebby, Rosslyn (7 July 2009). "When the rivers don't run". Canberra Times. p. 1. Archived from the original (feature article) on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  5. ^ Keniry, John (31 October 2012). Annual Report 2011-12. National Resources Commission. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-921050-73-2. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Interview with John Williams, former CSIRO Head of Land and Water". Australian Story (Interview: transcript). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 June 2005. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  7. ^ Research associates - John Williams, Centre for Water Economics, Environment & Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific Archived 1 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Burke, Tony; Williams, John; Rivers, Nicola; Chesson, Tom; Minns, Tony (12 April 2012). "Draft Murray plan: Tony Burke". RN Breakfast (Interview: audio). Interviewed by Gregg Borschman. Australia: ABC. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  9. ^ ATSE Fellows Archived 18 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine, AATSE
  10. ^ States’ dummy-spit over theMurray-Darling Basin Plan clouds the real facts, Quentin Grafton & John Williams, The Conversation, 2018-02-16

External links[edit]