Water Journal : Water Journal November 2016
www.awa.asn.au 25 That golf course could be one of their limited recreational facilities. It isn't just the place that people go and play golf -- it is the place where people gather and they have their social functions there, even their weddings. If we only focus on costs and not benefits, I think we're really not taking the whole picture of the way of recycled water is used. AWA: What do you think are some of the issues standing in the way of recycled water becoming a bigger part of the water supply mix? Altavilla: We can fall into the trap of thinking too short-term and too small. We have to think much more broadly than what we have been doing, and it has to go beyond just utilities. We need to get urban planners involved in the whole process. That's the next big challenge. People in the water industry are across the importance of recycled water but that attitude needs to spread more widely. There are signs of that happening already, with people talking about public amenity and liveability. Take urban heat effects -- if we're looking at urban sprawl and moving into greenfield sites in western Sydney, for example, we know that it is hotter in the areas without a lot of water in the urban environment. A heat wave will kill more people than a flood, but good urban planning with water in the mix can provide respite and mitigate a huge risk. It's vital that we have good policy settings to ensure that we can promote this sort of work. AWA: What sort of work is DPI Water doing to help ensure this happens? Altavilla: We're currently updating the Sydney Metropolitan Water Group for 2016 and consulting with the public to make sure we have a good handle on what the public wants in terms of water. Water recycling always comes up really high on that list of wants, even when we tell them about the price. People don't like waste. Every time there's a major flood, we always get asked, "Why can't we save this water? Why can't we use it?". So in the metro space, we're striving to get the right mix of understanding that water is for people and for the environment. In the regional space, we've been working on the approval process. When the water recycling guidelines came out, there was a real pushback. People thought they were too complicated and onerous. We used to just require that people test every month and reach a certain quality but now we have a system of quality assurance and that is a big change for people. People say the goal posts have changed but I say it's actually a whole different ball game. And it was met with a lot of resistance in the regional communities. What we did in 2015 is develop a suite of NSW guidance documents. I very much wanted these documents to be useful so we got together and discussed things from our side and the user side and figured out what were the things that people found really difficult about the guidelines. We then wrote some information sheets on those, and the guidance document, and then we did a series of workshops where we could work with the users in a series of facilitatived workshops to ensure that the information was targeted to the needs of the utilities. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nanda Altavilla's and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NSW DPI Water. WE'RE ACTUALLY QUITE FORTUNATE IN AUSTRALIA, IN THAT PEOPLE ARE REALLY WATER-SENSITIVE.
Current August 2016
Current Feb 2017