Water Journal : Water Journal July 2012
28 JULY 2012 water regular features Mike Dixon -- YWP National Committee President young water professionals Ozwater: The YWPs' Perspective While many delegates were yet to leave their home states for Sydney, the Young Water Professionals (YWPs) were already in the Ozwater groove, attending our annual workshop on the eve of the main conference. This year the workshop, Doing More With Less: Resource Efficiency in the Water Sector, featured four leaders of our industry -- Alan Jones (City of Sydney), Dan Deere (Water Futures), Bill Barber (AECOM) and Phillip Von Huben (SKM). As guest speakers they shared valuable insights into the effects of climate change, population growth, increased energy prices and the innovations to help deal with these issues. What really made the day fun, besides Kylie Cochrane's excellent facilitation, was a breakout session to solve a hypothetical scenario. One scenario involved the fit-out of a space-craft for a year-long space journey requiring self-sustaining water and energy. This particular scenario produced creative ideas such as energy-generating dance floors, which led to an interesting display of 'energy-generating' dance moves! The YWPs are dedicated to becoming our industry's next leaders and on Day 2 we were out in force for a networking breakfast. Our high-quality guest speakers focussed on professional development and Sydney Water's CEO, Kevin Young, encouraged YWPs to leap at every opportunity. Kevin's success story from his experience travelling overseas and being offered a job in the United States could all be traced back to one opportunity... he drove a senior manager to the airport! Andrew Kable, of H2O Talent, then painted a picture of the current job market and imparted the best methods for YWPs to become valuable people in their organisations. Reflections and Findings Ozwater included 190 technical presentations, plus workshops and associated events. Over the three days of the conference a team of YWPs diligently assessed every technical paper and considered what was good, what wasn't so good, what was novel, what had been done to death, and who the outstanding presenters were. At the end of each day we discussed our findings and Chitwan Jawanda, Ozwater YWP Chair, and myself were tasked with boiling everyone's thoughts down to a six-minute presentation for the closing ceremony. I will now share some of our conclusions. The official Ozwater theme was Sharing Knowledge, Planning the Future. This was most evident in Kevin Young's opening speech where he spoke about Sydney Water 'Looking Back -- Thinking Forward'. We found his presentation a great opening and a way to stimulate forward thinking at the conference, as well as providing practical examples of how what we do affects our customers. Several speakers noted the perception of language was important for community engagement and participation. It can be as basic as referring to 'biosolids' instead of sludge, or 'saline concentrate' in place of brine. On the subject of community and perception, it was evident there has been a key shift in community consultation. While once only lip service was paid to this, the public are now being truly engaged in many projects. One paper at the conference covered modelling public response to certain projects -- a novel concept for our industry. A key win from community speakers was that water demand has not increased since water restrictions have been lifted. The education programs and information campaigns about sustainable water use and related initiatives have certainly influenced behaviour for the longer term. The keynote speech from Herbert Dreiseitl (sculptor, artist and interdisciplinary urban planner) regarding the aesthetic design of urban water projects before engineering solutions was remarkable. The positive effects of this approach in communities were astounding and a significant message for our industry. Herbert's presentation was certainly different to the norm at Ozwater and indicated how YWPs may need to think and operate in the future. Another key theme was 'spending $1 now to save $3 later', much like the old adage 'a stitch in time saves nine'. This was relevant for many areas including asset management, community engagement, water treatment and operations and maintenance. This is a challenge for our future leaders within the YWP as not only will it be important to deliver projects on time and to budget, it will be equally as important to foresee and integrate the longer term impacts and needs as part of a project. Mining and the Carbon Tax There were one or two papers covering water for mining and the carbon tax; on reflection we agreed these topics may have been under-exposed. The number of gigalitres of mining water required is fast approaching the number required for municipal water; hence, more papers on this topic are required. Fortunately AWA is running several sessions in the coming months around this topic. Also, with the introduction of the Federal Government's Carbon Tax 51 days after Ozwater, more papers covering the implications of the tax for our industry, and how we can act to minimise our expenditure in the area, would have been welcome. Although the Ozwater theme was Sharing Knowledge, Planning the Future, as YWPs we found the foremost topics were regulation, pricing and value for the customer. Obviously regulation and pricing are a focus for many people over the next 12 months and the customer continues to drive business decisions for all of us. On behalf of the YWPs I can say we always look forward to being involved and sharing our thoughts.
Water Journal August 2012
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