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Fresh idea channels water to win Enviro 08 Award

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Channelling rainwater for domestic use has won talented Curtin University Engineering graduate Vinod Ramamurthy the prestigious 2008 National Undergraduate Prize at Enviro 08, for his research on rainwater harvesting systems for developing countries.

Enviro 08 is the premier event on the calendars of industry, government and academic experts who gathered in Melbourne earlier this month to share ideas and foster viable solutions to Australia’s environmental sustainability challenges. Organised by the Australian Water Association and the Waste Management Association of Australia, the forum brought together a diverse community ranging from scientists to finance experts, all sharing a common concern for the implications of climate change on Australia’s environmental future.

Vinod believes the secret to his win lies in the simplicity of the idea and the critical worldwide need to harvest rainwater.

“Rainwater harvesting offers a very real and accessible way of creating more sustainable fresh water supplies. I have seen this first hand in my extended family’s home of Chennai, India where the city’s water supplies have been considerably improved since compulsory rainwater harvesting was introduced a few years ago,” Vinod said.

As part of Vinod’s final year project, he utilised the rainwater harvesting test facility at Curtin to examine the performance of various square and vee cross section gutter options.

The materials required to build the rainwater harvesting system are readily available in developing countries and easily moulded into a vee shape and attached to domestic homes.

“As the gutter transports all the water collected, a good design will ensure maximum collection at a minimal material and maintenance cost. A key consideration of the study was the necessity that outcomes or recommendations could be feasibly adapted for a developing country,” Vinod said.

A further aspect of Vinod’s project was contributing to a predictive model being developed by Curtin which ultimately could become available as a design tool for builders of rainwater collection systems.

“I hope the results of my project will help the ongoing development of rainwater harvesting as it deserves to be a big part of future water planning, especially in developing countries.”

Professor Tony Lucey, Supervisor of Vinod’s project, believes this is another step in the evolution of an economically efficient rainwater collection system.

“As underdeveloped, developing and developed countries seek to become more sophisticated in their ability to collect rainwater, projects like Vinod’s will provide an essential knowledge-base in water collection methods,” Professor Lucey said.

Like most of his 2007 graduating class, Vinod was offered a job well before he completed his degree and will commence his career with the Perth office of Worley Parsons later this year.

Contact: Vinod Ramamurthy 0407 724 242 or Lisa Mayer, PR Coordinator, Curtin, 08 9266 1930, 0401 103 755

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