Water Journal : Water Journal August 2015
2 From the President water AUGUST 2015 PUTTING A REAL VALUE ON WATER Peter Moore – aWa President A workshop held as part of Ozwater’15 gave those present an understanding of the severe droughts being experienced in California and in parts of Brazil, specifically São Paulo, a city of 10 million plus people in danger of running out of water. Subsequently the Association hosted a group of companies to the American Water and Wastewater Association (AWWA) Conference in Anaheim, California, to showcase some of the capability Australia has in water efficiency. By all reports it was a successful trip (see page 23 for a report) and built on the delegation led by our then President Graham Dooley in late 2014. The Americans appreciate Australia has a lot to offer in dealing with all aspects of managing through a drought. Back home, it is staggering to think that something like 70 per cent of Queensland is currently drought-affected – and yet I suspect most Australians are oblivious to this as they are not currently impacted by water shortages. This brings me to the main focus of this article: how do we get politicians (and the community as a whole) to really value water and, in particular, what has been achieved in industry changes? The Australian Water Association will shortly be assessing the views and attitudes of consumers about water through a new consumer survey. The results of this survey will help the water sector shape a wider community campaign to value water as a major economic driver, as well as a national asset to be managed sustainably. Regarding both the drought in California and the current drought in São Paulo, it’s frustrating to realise in hindsight that remedial actions could have been put in place in the lead-up to these situations had the decision makers planned for the worst case and not lived in hope that the rain will come. In each case, the scenario developed over a number of years. On the positive side, it’s truly amazing what people can do when put under pressure. The Millennium drought saw significant changes to the way people use, manage and trade water. We adapted, worked together and came up with new governance arrangements. We came to recognise new community values, such as the importance of local sporting facilities to the wellbeing of the community. We finally made significant progress in the development and implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. But then it rained, the drought was suddenly over, and many forgot all the good work that had been done in valuing water and started to go back to their old ways. We’ve seen politicians asking people to use more water – and even some suggestion that the excellent governance developed for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is being relaxed. Most important is the demise of the National Water Commission. So much good work begun, so much still to do... I appreciate that this is somewhat a cynical view and I’m sure there are many places where the good work continues. This is particularly true in Western Australia – although it hasn’t rained in much of south-western Western Australia where dam levels are still declining with effectively no runoff to mid-July. But why can’t we make the hard decisions that will see us continue to be world leaders in water management? There are many significant issues relating to water that we need to face as a nation. The Association’s National Water Policy Summit to be held in Melbourne 6–7 October will be an ideal opportunity to consider and discuss these matters. references Paris – France 180 municipal authorities | 460km of main pipes | 35% overflows avoided Alicante – Spain 5,000km of sewer network | 380mm of rainfall per year on average | stormwater master plan and smart tools for crisis communication advanced solutions For more information contact SUEZ environnement on +61 2 8759 7900 all SUEZ environnement brands are now one SITA Australia, Degrémont, Process Group and 40 other water and waste companies across the globe are coming under the SUEZ environnement brand. seawater desalination | clarification and filtration | metal removal and recovery salt recovery | wastewater treatment and reuse | high-density sludge treatment waste collection and disposal | recycling and resource recovery suez-env.com.au water and treatment solutions for the municipal sector assessment Diagnosis and Strategy Assessment of system performance to define an action plan implementation & operation Active asset management Network management Effluent quality management Communication management Urbanisation in Australia continues to reduce the ground’s natural ability to absorb rainwater, increasing the volume of stormwater collected and evacuated by wastewater systems. SUEZ environnement has developed Advanced Solutions for Stormwater, an integrated approach for the optimal management of stormwater and sewage systems, to prevent flood damage.
Water Journal June 2015
Water Journal September 2015