PhD Seminar (and field trip ) - Are storm water systems inevitable?

About the seminar

Are storm water systems inevitable? Given the ubiquity of storm water systems in urban environments, it might seems that they are. However, storm water systems could be better described as obdurate. This obduracy is connected to the worldview embedded in what this research calls ‘western science’.

In this PhD seminar, Kate Harriden will present research that uses frameworks and methods from Indigenous science(s) to challenge the form and function of storm water channels, in the quest for improved urban stream outcomes. After outlining the worldview of Indigenous sciences, the frameworks of yindyamarra, centring country and relational accountability, and the methods of walking country and deep observation will be discussed. Some small-scale, in-channel infrastructure, inspired by Indigenous science(s) will be on display.

To fully appreciate Indigenous science(s) potential paradigm altering contribution to storm water management, and urban water management broadly, this presentation will be conducted on-site. (There is no Zoom option, but the presentation will be recorded)


About the speaker

Kate Harriden is an advocate of multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, as evidenced in much of her previous research from slums as environmental actors to opening the black box of intra-household water use.  She is particularly interested in including traditional ecological knowledge in contemporary urban water management practices and policy development.  She will continue combining water science with social science during her PhD research.

Kate is the current holder of the Icon Water Aspi Baria Scholarship.  She has held positions on a number of committees, including the Aust. Water Assoc. (AWA) ACT Branch Committee and the Aust. Assoc. for Environmental Education (AAEE) ACT and National committees.

Her Master of Geographical Sciences sub-thesis, “Fluid boundaries: the hyporheic zone of a tropical, tidal river”, investigated the hyporheic zone of a small site on the Bang Pakong River, Thailand.  Whereas her Master of Arts (Asian Studies) sub-thesis, “Stormwater: why waste it”, examined the influence of different ecological knowledge systems on the way stormwater is perceived and valued.

Kate has worked both as an independent researcher and held a number of positions across all levels of government.  This PhD project was inspired by her most recent public sector position, in the ACT Government's Healthy Waterways project.  The Healthy Waterways project will see the construction of a series of water sensitive infrastructure projects, across a number of catchments, to contribute to improved water quality in the Murrumbidgee Catchment. 

While working as an independent researcher, Kate developed a water diary, variations of which are now widely used in many research projects examining intra-household water flows.  This research lead her to a guest lecturer role in a post-graduate ANU unit, Exploring Gender and Development, from 2008 - 2012.  She was also the co-ordinator of the organizing committee for the international conference on water’s social dimensions "Tapping the Turn", held at ANU in 2012 (  Kate was a guest editor of the Tapping the Turn special edition of the Australasian Journal of Environmental Management (V. 20 No. 3 2013).  From 2009 - 2014 she was the co-ordinator of the international network of household water use researchers.  She has also translated children’s books (from English to Thai) and fables and folk tales (from Thai to English), that are in the process of being published.



There are very limited spots for this presentation, with 8 spots in a mini-van. Departing from the Fenner field services compound at 11am sharp, we’ll be heading out to one of the field sites on Yarralumla Creek at Curtin. Anticipated return to campus is between midday and 12.30pm.

Please wear shoes appropriate for the field (at the least, fully cover your feet) and bring water. We will be going regardless of the weather.

To book your limited spot, please click the registration link. Once approved, attendees will need to put in a travel form as per ANU policy. We will provide the details via email to add to the form.