Water Journal : Water Journal September 2014
SEPTEMBER 2014 WATER 7 My Point of View be compatible with non-toxic inks so that those inks can be removed in a process that uses only heat and water; and so forth. HOW MIGHT THIS HAPPEN? What we are talking about here is that the scale of transformation that economists have recognised only occurs every few generations – the end of one economic ‘long wave’ and the emergence of another enabled by the combination of creative capital and technological innovation (for example, steam trains) that drive socio-political change. This time, it’s the circular economy (see McKinsey’s report, launched at the World Economic Forum www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/business/ce100). What might this mean for water service provision? It would mean gradually transforming and diversifying just about everything. Some potentially heretical ideas follow – read on at your own risk! For example, our environmental regulation system might enable sewage service providers to ‘separate’ upstream, so that recovery of valuable or dangerous materials is facilitated at the scale and location that make most sense. We might engage the public in a well-informed deliberative process to come to new agreements about what level of risk, security and price are acceptable. Our economic regulators might underwrite an expansive approach to assessing value, including externalities, that facilitates real return on investment, creative capital, community and private sector investment, new forms of business, diversified products, and all of this in ways that give preference to long-term value over short-term dividend or profit. All this would enable substantial diversity and breakthroughs in our technological systems and scales. Is all this pie in the sky? Maybe not. In the USA, Harvard University combined forces with the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Public Works Association and the American Council of Engineering Companies to form the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). While it was under construction (pardon the pun) at the same time as our own Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), ISI has gone further. Guess what’s the highest level of performance in ISI’s infrastructure rating tool? Restorative. While what ISI has laid out now may not be everything I’ve laid out here, it is certainly heading in the same direction – towards net-positive infrastructure. SO WHAT NOW? I think the time is right, now, for a broader conversation about what it would mean to embrace this idea – to begin the seriously challenging work to identify what this would mean in practice, what initial moves we should make, and to prepare ourselves to be okay with learning from failure. I first pitched this idea of restorative infrastructure back in 2006 – initially to Yarra Valley Water (where it helped define their ‘new’ objective of providing services within the carrying capacity of nature), then to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority where it transformed what people thought was possible for Barangaroo at a building and precinct scale, then to ISCA, which eschewed it as a bridge too far at the time. I said earlier that it’s revolutionary, and it is. I don’t expect it to be easy – it will mean scrutinising things we hold dear that have served us well... but we know more now, so it’s time for our definition of ‘functional’ to expand. I reckon we are ready for it. Do you? BINTECH SYSTEMS WATER SOLUTIONS TOLL FREE 1300 363 163 firstname.lastname@example.org www.bintech.com.au • ULTRASONIC TRANSMITTERS AND CONTROLLERS • POINT LEVEL SWITCHES • MAGNETIC LEVEL GAUGES • SLUDGE LEVEL SYSTEMS • WIRELESS SYSTEMS LEVEL SYSTEMS • SELF CLEANING • SELF CALIBRATING • AMMONIA • NITRATES • FLUORIDE • SILICA • ZINC NEW INSTRAN ANALYTICAL MONITOR • BIOFILM ANALYSER • RESIDUAL CHLORINE • DISSOLVED OZONE • DISSOLVED OXYGEN • TURBIDITY NEW CRONOS ECONOMY ANALYTICAL CONTROLLERS • SUSPENDED SOLIDS • PH/ORP • CONDUCTIVITY • FLUORIDE ANALYTICALCONTROLLERSNEW!
Water Journal November 2014
Water Journal August 2014