Water Journal : Water Journal December 2011
regular features 56 DECEMBER 2011 water conference reviews 'Soft' Engineering Dr Guangchun Lei of the Beijing Forestry University, China, presented a case study of Poyang Lake in China. He described the decline of the lake's health over the past 50 years from wetlands reclamation, water pollution and over-exploitation of natural resources. After devastating flooding in 1998, 'soft' engineering, including water and soil conservation through upstream reforestation and downstream wetland restoration, was adopted. The resulting improvement of water health increased biodiversity values and the lake's ability to assist in flood mitigation. Persuasive Articulation A workshop on 'Challenges and Solutions to Riverine Ecosystem Services Assessments for Decision Making' discussed methods for identifying, measuring and valuing the ecosystem services of improved river management. There are many beneficial private and public goods and services provided by riverine systems. For example, ensuring adequate environmental flows protects not only rare species, but also productivity, jobs, health and lifestyles, now and into the future. But action on ecosystem services is required now. Persuasive articulation of the benefits of these services is required for the development and implementation of effective policies and decisions for managing riverine ecosystem services across multiple geopolitical scales. Paradigm Shift Professor Barry Hart of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority discussed the paradigm shift needed in the Basin's water resources management if it is to meet the environmental water requirements of its key ecological assets and functions. For more than 50 years, management has been largely focused on the efficient delivery of consumptive water, particularly for irrigation. However, major changes in river operations and water resource allocation are now required to return consumptive water to the environment. A Common Vision Dr Denise Reed from the University of New Orleans, US, explained that for 150 years the management of the Lower Mississippi River has focused on supporting navigation and limiting flood risk. However, this has disconnected North America's largest river from its delta plain, causing the massive ecosystem degradation experienced in coastal Louisiana in recent decades. Dr Reed posed the question: Can we develop an approach to river management that balances the competing values of transportation, flooding and coastal ecosystem needs? Planning for future river management requires consideration of global trade, changes in runoff and agricultural production, and the needs of multiple users for clean, fresh water, without sacrificing the sustainability of a world-class ecosystem. Echoing the sentiments of Professor Hart, she concluded that the future of managing rivers requires policy, science, engineering and management to work towards a common vision. 2011 Riverprize Winners Delegates and invited guests enjoyed live entertainment and the presentation of the 2011 Riverprize winners at the Riverprize Gala Dinner. Awarded by the International RiverFoundation, the National and Thiess International Riverprizes provide recognition, reward and support to those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management. This year's winners were Sunshine Coast Rivers Initiative, Queensland (National) and Charles River, US (Thiess International). • 2011 National Riverprize winner -- Sunshine Coast Rivers Initiative, Queensland The Sunshine Coast Council and Partners demonstrated an impressive collection of river-health planning and on-ground achievements in six catchment areas, comprising approximately 5,000 kilometres of waterways across the Sunshine Coast region in South-East Queensland. Conducted by a collaboration of the Council, local community groups, industry, natural resource managers and other government partners, the community works to protect and improve the health of local waterways. The Initiative delivered outcomes via five themes: Science; Planning & Policy; Partnerships; Education & Advocacy; and On-ground Projects, with activities underpinned by constructive partnerships and an enterprising spirit. • 2011 Thiess International Riverprize Winner -- Charles River, US Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was awarded the Thiess International Riverprize for outstanding achievement in river restoration. When the CRWA was founded in 1965, the Charles River commonly changed colour according to the colour of paint being manufactured on its banks. Today, the CRWA's work has evolved from the health of the river towards urban design, sustainable infrastructure and elimination of barriers between water supply, wastewater and stormwater management. Its key achievements include the creation of the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area; implementation of Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Long-Term Combined Sewer Overflows Control Plan; invention of SmartStorm®, a rainwater harvesting system, coupled with a stronger regulatory climate for rainwater recycling; and Blue CitiesTM Initiative for water-sensitive urban development. Study Tours As part of the Riversymposium program, delegates ventured off-site to visit flagship projects in South-East Queensland. They were treated to firsthand views of award-winning water sensitive urban design projects, impacts of the January 2011 floods, river restoration programs in the upper catchments and Brisbane City Council's Norman Park 2026 project. After the success of the last two symposiums in Perth and Brisbane, the 15th International Riversymposium will be held in Melbourne from 8--11 October 2012. The conference theme will be: 'Rivers in a Rapidly Urbanising World'. Visit www.riversymposium.com to view the 2011 proceedings and submit an abstract for the 15th International Riversymposium. The proud winners of the 2011 Riverprizes.
Water Journal April 2012
Water Journal November 2011