Water Journal : Water Journal December 2014
DECEMBER 2014 water 27 Feature article T his article discusses some aspects of a larger study conducted to explore the challenges and barriers to implementing an integrated urban water management (IUWM) strategy in Adelaide. It is based on an internet survey of 55 key actors representing various stakeholder groups from both the public and private sectors. While the key actors identified several challenges and barriers, this paper focuses on two factors: organisational culture and institutional capacity. Clearly the stakeholders perceived these as barriers to implementing IUWM and clarified that some of the other challenges, such as ownership and access rights, are related to the ‘new’ water sources such as stormwater and recycled wastewater. The National Water Initiative (NWI) suggests identifying and developing innovative ways of managing and achieving more efficient water use in its cities, and IUWM aims to achieve this by enabling multi-functionality of urban water services. Consequently, many of Australia’s state governments and their agencies have moved to better align planning and development requirements with an integrated approach to the management of the urban water cycle. While the objectives of the NWI 2004 were agreed by the Australian states and territories, implementation of IUWM remains a challenge for the individual states and territories, mostly owing to the presence of different institutional models to manage urban water supplies (Keremane et al., 2014). With the inclusion of ‘new sources’ of water (e.g. stormwater, recycled wastewater) into the supply mix, the situation became more complicated. Addition of these sources has resulted in a complex entitlements regime and related issues about access rights because the current entitlement arrangements governing these sources of water within the urban water supply are not clearly defined. In line with this, a study sponsored by the Goyder Institute for Water Research was carried out to identify the legal and policy challenges to implementing IUWM in Adelaide, and also to explore potential solutions to overcome these challenges. To do so, the project team used mixed methods, but this article discusses some findings of an online survey of 55 senior urban water managers and planners representing various stakeholder groups. While the study is expected to provide suggestions on potential solutions that will assist urban water managers and strategists to develop better targeted legal, policy and institutional programs, this article highlights some of the barriers identified during the study. A more detailed outline with some potential strategies to overcome the challenges will be presented in a follow-up paper in coming months. ReseaRch conTexT and MeThod Historically Adelaide relies on its traditional water sources – the River Murray, catchments in the Adelaide Hills and groundwater – for its drinking water supply. However, the prolonged drought in recent years forced Adelaide to introduce non-conventional sources of water such as treated stormwater, recycled wastewater, desalinated water and rainwater tank water to supplement these resources. In 2009 the South Australian Government released Water for Good, a statewide water plan that outlined the actions to ensure water security for South Australia into the future, which among others included diversification of water supply sources (OWS, 2010). As a result of these initiatives, South Australia today leads the country in the areas of stormwater capture and reuse and wastewater recycling. While expanded access to a wide range of water sources can provide a reliable and secure cost-effective water supply, integration of water sources (catchments, groundwater, desalination, recycled wastewater and harvested stormwater) in urban water supply requires sophisticated risk management and water quality monitoring strategies to ensure the primacy of public health (Spies and Dandy, 2012). Furthermore, review of published literature on institutional issues relating to IUWM and water-sensitive urban design highlights the major challenges summed up in five key areas by Mukheibir et al., (2014): legislation and regulations; economics and finance; planning and collaboration; culture and capacity; and citizen engagement. Similarly, Brown and Farrelly (2009) have produced a comprehensive list of barriers to delivering sustainable urban water management and argue that “these barriers are socio- institutional rather than technical” (p. 842). In literatures there is an agreement about the hurdles we face in implementing an IUWM strategy and two factors – organisational culture and institutional capacity – emerge as the important elements that influence this change, particularly with respect to source diversification. This is mostly because developing and implementing ‘new’ water projects requires significant community engagement (Marsden Jacob, 2013). Also, within the water industry, as Mukheibir et al. (2014, p. 71) argue, “the rigid cultural norms of organisations, professionals and academics... and capacity development, are barriers to integrated and innovative water management”. In this regard we wanted to examine the perceptions of the key stakeholders in South Australian urban water sector about these barriers. IS ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE A BARRIER TO IMPLEMENTING INTEGRATED URBAN WATER MANAGEMENT IN ADELAIDE? Ganesh Keremane, Zhifang Wu and Jennifer McKay from the Centre for Comparative Water Policies and Laws explore the challenges and barriers to implementing an IUWM strategy in Adelaide.
Water Journal November 2014
Water Journal February 2015