Water Journal : Water Journal September 2011
small systems water SEPTEMBER 2011 75 • Emergency response activities; • Surveillance activities; • Monitoring, with strong emphasis on preventive measures. A facilitator must select components of the package to suit local needs and jurisdictional requirements. It is the facilitator's role to identify the management needs of the water supply and the level of understanding of the community and residents to adapt the process and use the resources to fit local needs. Implementation and Adoption The package has been distributed to key organisations that are responsible for small community water supplies across Australia, such as State Government health and water departments or service providers. There are broad-ranging benefits from using the package for both the water service providers and the Indigenous communities, including clarity of: • Site-specific water management procedures; • A consistent 'language' and understanding of components, hazards and risks of each water system; • Service requirements and support mechanisms; • Shared service and operation requirements; • Asset management and recurrent cost requirements. The implementation of the Field Guide is progressing; however, the key barrier to adoption in the small organisations in remote areas appears to be the general lack of knowledge and understanding of the correct implementation process for water management programs. Based on our experience in supporting adoption of the Field Guide, capacity building about the procedures and objectives of water management is required both at the local and institutional levels. The National Water Commission has supported CAT to develop a 'train-the- trainer' workshop for people who will use the Field Guide. The workshops are held on location in remote communities and in regional centres. The workshop program covers the steps to creating a water management plan and outlines the core competencies for a facilitator. A facilitator must be able to communicate in cross-cultural contexts, identify the most appropriate management planning process and effectively draw on support agencies as required. During the 'train-the-trainer' workshops and program implementation, the following issues have emerged: 1. Sustainable water management. Program managers are keen to initiate water programs; however, implementing management programs that span more than a year remains difficult. Too often program leaders are eager to visit communities to test the water and relay the results to consumers, but they then do little more. A shift in understanding about water testing as a verification procedure within a broader management plan remains fundamental. Water testing is not the first activity that defines the approach. During implementation, reinforcement that water testing is a component of a holistic water management strategy to engage the local community and understand the water supply is the first step. 2. Annual review. The importance of an annual audit or review is frequently overlooked by program managers. The annual audit or review is an integral part of the management process and is the opportunity to assess the system and management performance as well as integrate step-wise improvements. Water management in remote regions relies on shared management procedures, so the review can reinforce ongoing support structures and the maintenance of relationships. It is recognised that the sustainability of small supplies relies on input from institutions to 'provide encouragement and motivation, monitoring, participatory planning, capacity building and specialist technical assistance' (Harvey and Reed, 2007). Shared management, reliable support and technical advice must form the basis of a sustainable management plan. 3. Shared management. There is strong evidence to support sharing management tasks for small water supplies (Grey-Gardner, 2008a). Microbiological contamination has the most acute health effects for consumers, so the most appropriate actions to prevent and respond quickly to a potential outbreak must occur on site. Local water managers are best positioned to carry out on-site surveillance that relates to reducing the microbiological hazards and risks (Hrudy, 2004). Outstations, where there are often small enterprise initiatives that involve stock and native wildlife living in and around the settlement, are a high priority for robust water management planning, because microbial pathogens are most commonly present where humans live in close proximity to their livestock and other animals (Hrudy, 2004). 4. Site selection. Water management planning is most successful when the community volunteers to participate. In most small settlements, residents do not pay for water and their contributions to management are driven by their determination to live on their traditional land. Residents need to fully participate in the planning process if the program is to be sustainable. Harnessing the skills, motivation and resources available in the local communities is first achieved by recognising the current contribution residents in small outstations already make to the operation and management of their water supply. Indigenous people are renowned for their high mobility and small settlements can be unoccupied for many months each year. Program managers often prefer to work with communities that are permanently occupied. The priority for developing water management plans only for communities that are permanently occupied denies communities with intermittent residency the skills to protect their water supply after prolonged absences, or to secure the supply before leaving. The willingness of residents to participate in water planning and carry out the local surveillance and management activities are key indicators to the impact of water management planning activities and should inform where programs are conducted. 5. Step-wise improvement strategy. Many program managers hesitate to involve the community and create a management plan for fear of more capital investment needed for water system upgrades. Most remote water supplies have had significant investment in hardware, so a water management plan to maintain the reliability and integrity of the system will, in many cases, be the only investment required to ensure water meets the ADWG. It is preferable to begin a management plan regardless of the condition of the supply. In remote areas there are often substantial delays in completing capital works, so it is sensible to include them in a management plan as a step-wise improvement and monitor progress as part of the overall management plan.
Water Journal November 2011
Water Journal August 2011