Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 76 Feature Article ABSTRACT Catchment management is a complex and multi-faceted eld, encompassing a wide range of issues associated with interactions between water, land use and human activities within landscapes. Goals can include managing catchments for the supply of drinking water, waterway health and biodiversity outcomes, and human wellbeing (e.g. social and economic values). It is a challenging eld because it cuts across multiple disciplines and sectors, and involves a range of different perspectives. Fundamentally, it seeks to address a range of complex issues related to the management of water and natural resources, which many organisations and individuals contribute to and are impacted by, but typically no single organisation has responsibility or power to address on their own. The eld of catchment management has been evolving over decades, and in this article we provide a brief snapshot of some key trends that have emerged in recent years. In doing so, we aim to broaden appreciation for catchment management within the water industry, and to encourage a deeper appreciation of its relevance, complexity and connectivity with all aspects of the water cycle. INTRODUCTION Catchment management is a complex and multi-faceted eld, encompassing a wide range of issues associated with interactions between water, land use and human activities within landscapes. Essentially, it focuses on managing water resources and ecological health of waterways and catchments, and linkages with a wide range of social, economic and cultural values. It spans both rural and urban contexts, and interactions with many aspects of the water cycle including urban water supply, wastewater treatment, urban stormwater runoff and agriculture. Approaches to catchment management have continued to evolve over the last two decades. The purpose of this artcle is to identify and re ect on some important trends that have been emerging over recent years in the broad eld of catchment management. EVOLVING APPROACHES AND DRIVERS OF NEW RESPONSES The need for catchment management has long been recognised and approaches to it have evolved over time. Concepts of 'Integrated Catchment Management' (ICM) developed in the 1980s and early 1990s, and embodied a growing awareness of the need for integrated approaches to manage cross- cutting water issues. However, while there was strong enthusiasm for ICM approaches, there was in some areas insuf cient scienti c, social and institutional knowledge and capacity available at the time to fully enact these. The will to make the compromises necessary to protect waterway and catchment health in practice is another ongoing issue that must be addressed in order to convert ICM principles into application. From a longer-term perspective this could be seen as the beginning of a journey that continues to today, about what is required to fully implement integrated approaches within catchments. A wide range of different activities can be seen as contributing to catchment management -- for example, managing point source pollutants (such as sewage treatment plants and industry) and non- point source pollutants (such as urban stormwater runoff, stream and gully erosion in rural areas, and agricultural land management practices) released to waterways, and developing more water- sensitive urban environments. From this perspective, the principles and goals of catchment management (see box, below) remain highly relevant within broader efforts towards 'whole-of-water cycle' management. WHERE ARE WE HEADING IN CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT? James Patterson and Karla Billington from AWA's Catchment Management Specialist Network discuss the ongoing evolution and emerging trends in catchment management. SOME IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES OF CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT • Healthy catchments support healthy communities; • Catchments generate multiple interlinked environmental, social and economic bene ts; • Catchment management involves balancing these often competing bene ts and values, and an appropriate balance will vary from catchment to catchment and may change over time; • The types and extent of land use and other human activities undertaken in catchments can signi cantly in uence the quality and quantity of water derived from the catchment, and the wider associated environmental, social and ecological bene ts of catchments; • Investments in improving catchments often take many years to show measurable change, but negative impacts often have more rapid effects; and • Many organisations and all community members have an important role to play in catchment management. NB: This working list of principles was developed over several months by the previous AWA Catchment Management Specialist Network (2011--2012).
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