Water Journal : Water Journal November 2011
regular features 42 NOVEMBER 2011 water conference review Catchment Management 'Healthy Catchments, Healthy Communities' was the theme of a recent AWA conference on Catchment Management, which was held at the state-of-the-art Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre in north-east Victoria on 22--23 August 2011. Written by Pat Feehan, Conference Chair. Over 150 delegates attended the conference, which was organised by AWA's Catchment Management Specialist Network (SN). The session topics for the two-day conference included: • Catchment management -- what it is and why it's important; what are our expectations and what we want from it; • Demonstrating and quantifying land use impacts on water quality -- the connection between land management and water quality; the importance of catchment condition as a determinant of water quality; • Setting priorities and managing risks -- linking drinking water risk management with catchment and river health programs; • Catchment management toolkit -- what tools can we use to manage risks? Physical (works) and non-physical approaches. Decision making processes; • Catchment and water quality monitoring and evaluation -- using monitoring to design and guide catchment management activities; • Valuing catchments as business assets -- funding catchment management activities; cost-benefit analysis. Reflecting on the event, Conference Chair, Pat Feehan, Director, Feehan Consulting Pty Ltd, said: "The program was ambitious, but the relevance and quality of speakers, and their willingness to come to Wangaratta to talk about catchment management, was most gratifying. Some of the more technical presentations were balanced by 'reports from the coalface' from field-based catchment management practitioners." He noted that it is very difficult for catchment managers to be across all aspects of catchment management. It is important for practitioners to be aware of sources of relevant information and a conference such as this provides that opportunity. The sessions covered a wide range of topics which demonstrated the scope of catchment management. Each topic could be the subject of a conference on its own, but the organising committee wanted to ensure the event had widespread appeal and, as the first such AWA conference, that a broad range of topics was covered. Over the two days a total of 31 speakers represented a variety of topics and disciplines involved in catchment management, including: • Policy makers; • Researchers; • Modellers; • Social scientists; • Land and water managers; • Economists; and • Lawyers. Mr Feehan also noted the importance of working out where in a catchment to make a difference. Presentations by Kirsten Verburg (Spatial Diagnosis of Water Quality), Ted Lefroy (Linking Investment To The Condition Of Natural Resources), Gary Jones (eWater Source Integrated Catchment Modelling System) and Christobel Ferguson (Catchment Pathogen Budgeting) all gave insights about where or how to target catchment management activities. The need to involve municipalities in catchment management was highlighted by Narelle Martin, who spoke of her work with municipalities in Canada in the wake of the Walkerton incident, and Rob Franklin who discussed development and septic tank issues north of Melbourne. Andrew Watkinson outlined South East Queensland Water's efforts to link catchment management activities with water quality objectives. Barwon Water's Jared Scott provided examples of his organisation working closely with the local catchment management authority to achieve outcomes beneficial to landholders and the two organisations. The often overlooked social aspect of catchment management was covered in presentations by Blair Nancarrow (Methodology For Policy Development In The Context Of Recreation In Drinking Water Catchments) and Ted Lefroy (on behalf of Wendy Merritt -- Factors Affecting Landholder Adoption Of Best Management Practices). Feedback from participants indicated that the conference successfully met the expectations of attendees. A pre-conference tour inspected urban stormwater wetlands in Wangaratta, the Wangaratta Drinking Water Treatment Plant and the Reedy Creek catchment -- a source of sediment which threatens the values of the lower Ovens River. The tour was led by Veronica Lanigan from the North East Catchment Management Authority. The tour concluded with a tasting of fine wines at Sam Miranda's winery at nearby Oxley. (The winery also provided some of the conference door prizes.) David Sheehan, Co-Convener of the Catchment Management Specialist Network, said the SN would now be challenged to continue with the momentum generated by the conference. The network is now developing ideas for future activities. He said the SN is working to ensure that conference papers and presentations would be made more widely available than only to conference attendees. The papers and presentations are a wonderful resource for catchment management practitioners. The conference organising committee was Pat Feehan (Chair), Feehan Consulting; Christobel Ferguson, ALS Environmental; David Sheehan, Dept of Health (VIC); Rob Considine, Melbourne Water; and Bob Ford (retired, Central Highlands Water). The committee was ably assisted by Gail Reardon (AWA Victorian Branch) and Elena Sidorova (AWA National Office). For more information on the Catchment Management Specialist Network please visit: www.awa.asn.au/Catchment_ Management.aspx Professor Gary Jones, Chief Executive, eWater CRC.
Water Journal December 2011
Water Journal September 2011