Murrumbidgee research breaks through at Water Awards

At The Fenner School, student research projects have led new scholars to grow bettong populations and produce their first research papers. But sometimes research projects have outcomes you can’t anticipate, such as finding yourself on an Instagram Live, surprising front page news articles, and unexpected awards. Ana María Londono has recently become part of our story of surprising research outcomes for students.

The Fenner School Alumni was recently recognised for her outstanding contribution to water science and research during her time at The Fenner School, with the ACT with the Australian Water Association ACT Student Award. The ACT Water Awards recognise the contribution of the Association’s members for their leadership, research, programming and projects. 

Ana María Londono graduated from her Masters in Environmental Science at The Fenner School in July 2022, winning the Student Water Prize 2023 because of the research project she completed as part of her Masters program.

The award was for her Masters research project called “Natural recreational swimming sites along the Murrumbidgee River: Quantifying the perceived values, risks and benefits to the community’s health and well-being”. Ana’s research was a collaborative supervision effort between The National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and The Fenner School of Environment and Society.

“When I was getting closer to finishing my degree, I had a really clear goal of wanting to give back to Canberra in a meaningful way. I have always had a particular interest in environmental health and saw this project as a great opportunity to be able to apply the knowledge and tools I got from my studies at ANU by collaborating with The National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health in this project.” says Ms. Londono.

The aim of her project was to explore the values the ACT community holds for the Murrumbidgee River and the various attributes associated with the river’s quality and condition, and how this affects perceived value. Ana’s project revealed essential findings into the well-being benefits that the ACT community derives from the recreational swimming sites along the river, and highlighted the impact of poor water quality and the challenges with fully appreciating the economic value of natural resources.

“From my research, it is clear that we all get great health and well-being benefits from these incredible natural areas along the Murrumbidgee River in the ACT. As main users of these recreational sites in the state, we also have a responsibility to protect the important values of recreation and drinking water of the Murrumbidgee River. Let's continue looking after these sites being mindful of the consequences of our actions on the water quality of the river.” she added.

This year’s ACT Water Award winners will go on to represent the territory in the national Australian Water Awards, which will be presented at the Association’s annual water conference and exhibition, Ozwater’23 in Sydney. We wish Ana all the best as she heads to Sydney in the months ahead!

You can read about all the winners of the 2023 ACT Water Awards here.