Water Journal : Water Journal November 2015
WATER NOVEMBER 2015 42 Feature Article even after there is deemed a good t between grower needs and government drivers: "Following on from the theme of supply side risk is the fact that many of these risks and their management strategies are complex, cross the purview of several government agencies with often divergent outlooks, and take time and considerable resources to resolve. Major water re-use irrigation projects will involve agencies involved in water resources management, environment, health, primary industries, planning, economic development and even Treasury and Crown Law. "The supply entity or a government entity with the role and authority to promote sustainable state development needs to take responsibility for resolving the supply side issues." The strong existing Regional Productivity driver has seen government and water corporations look at ways to expedite the process. This has seen a number of Expressions of Interest (EOI) linked to the treatment of wastewater streams or take-up of recycled water to support regional industry and enable growth. An example is the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme EOI recently released by SA Water that builds on the outcomes realised by the Virginia reuse project in the 1990s. In the 1990s there were several different funding approaches adopted, ranging from predominantly government (Virginia), through to community (Barossa) and privately (Willunga) funded schemes. Today, the range of options for funding has increased with the introduction of private entities backed by superannuation fund investors that are active in the water market. One of these companies, the Water Utilities Group, purchased the Willunga Basin scheme in 2013, which they continue to successfully operate and manage. As a private entity, it is looking to further grow recycled water use in the region, which will support the wider regional productivity and environmental drivers. Water corporations are also well positioned for an active role in partnerships with private companies and/or end user groups. They would welcome take-up of recycled water to capture environmental bene ts and realise their role in enabling employment and productivity growth in the regions they service. SUMMARY The reuse schemes developed in the 1990s had the combination of an agricultural area where water supply was a limiting factor and a wastewater treatment facility in reasonable proximity that had environmental drivers to reduce ef uent discharge levels to the marine environment. Although the 'lead' driver from the government perspective was environmental, after more than 15 years of operation the reuse schemes have demonstrated increased regional productivity and opportunity, which have held up, even in the current tough economic climate. In 2015 the growth of Australia's population in major urban centres improves the proximity and availability of reuse water to existing or emerging agricultural regions. Many of these population growth areas have also seen signi cant job losses due to closures of major manufacturing facilities and the reduced investment in the mining/ resources sector. In 2015, with a 'lead' driver of Regional Productivity (Figure 2), the creation or expansion of reuse schemes will create both jobs in the primary industry they serve and in the broader value-add industries and service industries that respectively maximise and support productivity. This increased recycled water use will have ow-on environmental bene ts that may enable deferment of future disposal infrastructure. The challenge in 2015 is to identify then capture the 'need', which, as in the 1990s, remains the most important area to get right. As the 1990s has demonstrated, if you can properly ascertain the 'need', guaranteeing a water supply will future-proof a region through growth opportunities and reduce the impact of urbanisation on the environment. WJ THE AUTHOR Chris Hewitson (email: chewitson@ insideinfrastructure.com.au) is a founding Director of Inside Infrastructure, a company that supports water providers and major users throughout Australia in the municipal, mining and resources and environmental sectors. Over his 20-year career in consulting and at Veolia Water, Chris design-managed major reuse schemes, ood alleviation schemes and advised water utilities across Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK. Figure 1. Water reuse drivers in the 1990s. Figure 2. Water reuse drivers in 2015.
Water Journal September 2015
Current Feb 2016