Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 86 Feature Article ELEMENT 7: ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY Community involvement and awareness are foundation concepts in the Guidelines. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it is customers and taxpayers who ultimately pay for catchment management activities. In 2012, as part of its formal pricing review process, Hunter Water surveyed its customers for their willingness to pay for management of source drinking water. The survey of 1,900 people was conducted by phone poll (700 respondents) and a voluntary internet survey (1200 respondents). Numbers were deemed highly reliable, providing 99% con dence that statistics were within 3% of the views held by the community. Results revealed that 71% of people were willing to spend an additonal $2 per bill on catchment activities. This nding has fundamentally in uenced the level of investment in catchments. Secondly, catchment land users and customers have arguably the greatest in uence on drinking water quality in these areas. Approximately 65% of Hunter Water's catchments are in private ownership. Through education and empowerment, positive changes in routines and actions of private landholders can have a large effect on the runoff from their properties. It follows that effective communication is one of the most important mechanisms for better catchment management. Hunter Water currently employs four mechanisms to communicate catchment information: • Signage draws awareness of the catchment boundaries and reinforces the notion that the authority is the environmental steward for this area. Hunter Water is at present identifying and upgrading signage in catchments. • Hunter Water’s website (www. hunterwater.com.au) has detailed information on the drinking water catchments, including catchment planning documents. • Chemical collections reduce the quantity of unused chemicals that could be incorrectly disposed of into water sources. • News articles in bill pamphlets have proved a cost-effective method of presenting catchment information to customers. ELEMENT 8: PLAN FOR EMERGENCIES The risk pro le for likelihood, severity and type of natural disasters are unique for each catchment authority. The Guidelines recommend a robust and tested Incident Management Plan (IMP) that gives explicit directions and a chain of command should any emergency arise. Hunter Water regularly tests its IMP with desk and mock incidents to assess the response adequacy. A water authority may choose to further plan for emergencies that are most likely or have potential catastrophic effects in catchments. For example, the profound effect of bush re was brought to the fore in February 2009 when Melbourne's Black Saturday bush res caused signi cant human, environmental and nancial costs for the state of Victoria. Those who were involved in the res stressed the importance of preparation before bush res by implementation of a separate Bush re Management Plan, which should address three aspects of bush re risk management: • Preparation -- working with catchment management authorities and re agencies on preparation activities like contingency planning and critical asset protection. • Incident management -- maintaining an incident management structure that is well drilled on the implementation of contingency plans/management of assets. • Recovery -- working with stakeholder agencies on prioritising recovery works that will minimise the impacts on water quality and assets. CONCLUSION The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines clearly articulate that drinking water treatment begins in the catchments. These catchments are often large and may be subject to multiple competing land uses, which makes it challenging for catchment managers to form a strategy to best implement the Guidelines. While the circumstances of each catchment authority will vary, all may bene t from considering and strengthening the eight elements outlined above. In particular, catchment managers should consider implementing a computerised mapping system, regularly schedule meetings with stakeholders to discuss collaboration opportunities, and embrace the opportunity to survey the community for their willingness to pay for catchment management programs. Further, the principles outlined in this article are not unique to drinking water authorities, and indeed may be useful for more general natural resource management organisations. WJ REFERENCES Davies C (Ed) (2009): Watershed Management for Drinking Water Protection, Indiana: American Water Works Association. Ferguson X & Sheehan X (2010): Catchment Knowledge -- The Underrated Barrier to Waterborne Disease, Water Journal, 37, 1, pp 13--20. Hurlimann F (2010): Development Control Within Catchments, Water Journal, 37, 1, pp 138--141. Ison RL, Collins KB, Bos JJ & Iaquinto B (2009): Transitioning to Water Sensitive Cities in Australia: A summary of the key ndings, issues and actions arising from ve national capacity building and leadership workshops. NUWGP/IWC, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria. Lance & Schulte (2008): Surveillance in Watershed Management for Drinking Water Protection, Water Journal, 35, 5, 61--67. National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2011): Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (6th ed.)(pp A-13), Canberra. United States Environment Protection Authority (US EPA) (1997): State-wide Watershed Management Facilitation, Washington: US EPA Of ce of Water. Figure 5. Signage surrounding Hunter Water catchments (left); and drums of chemicals collected from the public at routine chemical collection days.
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