Water Journal : Water Journal September 2014
2 From the President WATER SEPTEMBER 2014 DO WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO BE SMART ABOUT WATER? Graham Dooley – AWA President Australia has always had a magnificent record for being knowledgeable, skilful, creative and ingenious when it comes to managing our water. We have been consistently at or near the top internationally in the science of this essential resource, both in the furthering of knowledge of water and in the application of science and technology to all aspects of water treatment, and the technical regulation that applies to each water cycle. Since the 1880s we have also been international pioneers of a number of commercial, legal and regulatory initiatives. We have been a smart industry indeed! Do we want this to continue? I would think so. Over the past few decades, funding for water R&D in all its forms (not just the science) has come from an uncoordinated combination of the major water utilities, directly from the Commonwealth and State Governments, indirectly from the Commonwealth through the various university funding channels, and from companies who participate in the CRCs and Centres of Excellence. All this is about to change over the next few years with the simultaneous end of a number of funding streams. The new Federal Government has cut CRC programs dramatically and the two Centres of Excellence are coming to the end of their funding cycles. All other funding is likely to be more competitively allocated, with a general contraction in “discretionary” funding at all of the utility, State and Commonwealth levels. Economic regulators in State jurisdictions are not convinced about R&D being part of the regulated cost base of water utilities because they can’t see the direct value for customers. I note with considerable interest the way in which, since the 1980s, rural industries have organised their R&D through a set of highly focused R&D corporations run by industry for the benefit of the industry and its customers. Funding is continuous and is principally from industry levies (compulsory and typically around 0.75%) and matching Commonwealth funding. I note that just one of these R&D corporations, one that deals with red meat, spends over $150M pa. Another, which deals with wine, has over 100 scientists on its “payroll”, scattered among various universities and the CSIRO! With that sort of horsepower, there is no wonder that good agricultural outcomes are generated. By comparison, in the water industry there is no overarching R&D body and the amount we spend is far less than for any one of these other rural R&D bodies. AWA is concerned that water R&D funding is declining when there is so much ability to focus on it in our universities and other research organisations. Potential R&D from these various sources needs to be better coordinated, promoted and adopted across our water industry. The AWA Board supports and is working towards a single, national, industry-led body to focus our water R&D on what benefits the industry and its consumers, not just because it is interesting for its own sake – and we ought to fund it in a reliable manner. Other countries’ water sectors do this, as do Australian rural industries – and so should we! WASTEWATER SYSTEMS Control Components CERLIC SLUDGE BLANKET PROFILE SENSORS MEASURE IT, IF YOU CAN’T YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT SEE THEM IN ACTION!
Water Journal November 2014
Water Journal August 2014