Joint project ready to start

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 13:24 19/10/2012

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Work on a joint project between the Marlborough Research Centre and American private research company Research Triangle International (RTI) could start by the end of the year, the director of one of RTI's research programmes says.

Geospatial science and technology programme director Bill Wheaton had a "whirlwind trip" to Blenheim last week, and yesterday completed a 10-day trip to New Zealand after discussions in Blenheim, Nelson, and Wellington with scientists, council staff and government officials.

Dr Wheaton said he thought there was potential for co-operation between RTI and the Marlborough Research Centre, particularly on projects about water allocation and sustainable management of the Marlborough Sounds.

His visit included going out into the Sounds where he saw salmon and mussel farms, as well as "beautiful scenery".

The problems being discussed here were not unique, Dr Wheaton said, although some of the environmental aspects were unique, like the Sounds.

The joint work on water allocation was a more short-term opportunity, with some specific needs and time frames already being established, he said.

"At RTI, we've been developing some tools that we think will feed in to help that decision making. It's a nice fit because it won't require huge investments in labour and resources, because we already have something developed that can repurpose."

A statement of work or terms of reference would be defined before the end of the year, with funding during the next three to six months, he said.

The Marlborough Sounds project was more long term, between five to 10 years, Dr Wheaton said.

The potential partnership between the research centre and RTI was "really a testament to the vision of leaders" in Marlborough, he said, and he praised the "fantastically competent scientists and public policy" here.

"I think they're really visionary in developing this relationship. They have been key in keeping this going forward.

"What we've discovered is there are a lot of common interests.

"Instead of trying to do each others' work, we're looking at a partnership. The world is so complex now, particularly in environmental issues. No one organisation can really hold all the expertise."

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- The Marlborough Express

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