Water Journal : Water Journal May 2014
26 AWA News WATER MAY 2014 Regional Water Development Currently two-thirds of the state of Queensland is under drought conditions. The Federal Government has expressed interest in the north of Australia becoming the food bowl of Asia. This is not viable without a large degree of water resources infrastructure development in the north of Queensland. Planning still needs to be undertaken but it is expected that any future large spending in the water sector in these regional areas will be Federal money. SEQ Water Development Seqwater has commenced a two-year planning strategy for the 30-year water needs for South-East Queensland. While the current SE water grid provides good security of supply, several components arose from poor planning practices during the Millennium Drought, resulting in higher than optimal costs. The planning during that period is currently the focus of a parliamentary enquiry due over the next couple of months. Water Customers The development of exible communication style (think mobiles) charging plans is desirable for the water sector. Different user groups may need different quality and quantity of water, for different uses, at different rates. Examples may include high use gardening or agricultural users. The strategy will provide for hardship, set customer service standards and provide for the extension of the Water & Energy Ombudsman across the state. Ef cient Water Usage The state plan calls for the doubling of farm output by 2040. This will require improvements to the water usages within the rural areas. There will be an expansion of " t-for-purpose" water, including the reduction of the current "red tape" on recycled water schemes. Responsible Water Management Eight irrigation schemes are currently being returned to local control, with the expectation that they will have improved management, at a lower cost. With the reduction of the "red tape" and the introduction of outcome- based KPIs for water service providers, concerns may arise as to appropriate measurement of "responsible water management". Skills for the Future This appears to promote general management skills into the water sector. Skills such as Information & Data Management, and Economics & Business Management were mentioned. An expansion of the current Q-Wrap program, with the view to improve and share top management in regional areas, was announced. SMART Regulation & Private Sector Involvement The continuation of catchment-based approaches, the release of the current water services legislation and alterations to the recycled water regulations were mentioned as SMART regulations. Partnerships between government, water service providers and the private sector will be encouraged by the Government, while recognising that they do not have jurisdiction across many of these relationships. Innovative Technologies Several technology-based innovations were mentioned, including smart meters. The formation of an industry-led Innovation Panel was announced. While no new unexpected issues were announced by the Minister, the 30-year Water Strategy now appears to be aligned with the state plan and reported through six-monthly action plans. Much of the plan will be rural and regional area-based with less impact on the urban water sector. The success or failure of the plan will be determined by the implementation plan and the allocation of responsibility across government, water service providers and the industry as a whole. We await with anticipation the release of the strategy. This review was prepared by David Nixon of Better Managed, Chair of AWA's Queensland Policy and Strategy Committee. The views expressed are David's only, which he would be happy to discuss. Contact Davidn@bettermanaged.com.au The Queensland Branch would like to thank Minister McArdle for his presentation and Aurecon for sponsoring the event. Attendees at the recent Queensland Branch Breakfast in Brisbane.
Water Journal April 2014
Water Journal June 2014