Water Journal : Water Journal June 2014
WATER JUNE 2014 40 Workshop Reports Adam Wilson, Manager Water Treatment at Coffs Harbour, spoke about older workers showing reluctance to get involved with a certification process that might lead to them having to undertake further training. As the Queensland Pilot is also revealing, he identified this as a real challenge. However, Owen Worrall, a Coffs Harbour water operator, balanced this by saying, "It doesn't matter where you are these days -- you're expected to take on learning." Regional Managers John Roworth, Longreach and Sara Lunau, Gladstone, emphasised what an important role the Framework willplay in ensuring the provision of safe and reliable drinking water across regional and remote areas. The Victorian water industry, represented on the panel by WIOA's George Wall, is well advanced in the voluntary adoption of the standards described in the Victorian Best Practice Guidelines. Positive feedback from both managers and operators has already emerged from the Victorian trials. Emerging issues include: • Does everyone need to be certifed or would the Victorian approach suf ce -- ie, one "responsible person" as opposed to all operators being certi ed? • The capacity of training providers to meet the needs identi ed through the assessment process; • Will a national approach be able to survive in the face of varied regulations across jurisdictions? • WIST is providing Framework ownership and AWA (NSW) and WIOA (Qld) are providing certifying body services at the moment. Who will provide these services in the future? • Mandatory vs voluntary -- just how will industry move forward with implementation? • Costs: Training funds are usually only available for full quali cations, not for individual units of competency and costs of back lling for staff being trained from remote areas; • Evaluation of the Pilots: What is the focus of the Pilots? What does success look like? • Certi cation is challenging to experienced older workers. We need a robust and respectful RPL approach; • Certi cation: Will it impact on Job Descriptions and therefore put pressure on wages? (There is no evidence of this happening in Victoria.) CONCLUSION There is great support across industry for the National Certi cation Framework, with several attendees suggesting that everyone should get on with implementing the Framework, and that this was too important an issue not to resolve in the short term. However, while there is commitment to the implementation of a national model, there is no doubt that the in uence of regulators will impact on how certi cation is implemented across jurisdictions. It remains to be seen how this will play out across the water sector in the future. Both qldwater and AWA will report to WIST on outcomes of their respective Pilots before the end of the year. For further information please contact Pkelly@awa.asn.au or firstname.lastname@example.org ACHIEVING BUSINESS EXCELLENCE THROUGH BETTER DECISION MAKING This well-attended workshop was hosted by the AWA Sustainability Network and facilitated by Robert Humphries from Water Corporation. Diane Wiesner reports. Professor Paul Hardisty, formerly with Worley Parsons but now with CSIRO, opened proceedings by pointing to the key problem for decision makers -- that is, making long-term decisions under conditions of uncertainty and complexity. He argued that most businesses use deterministic nancial analysis to calculate net present value (NPV) as the major criterion to choose among competing options. Flaws with this approach lie in its failure to consider and value externalities in the social and environmental domains. Its nancial estimates are also vulnerable to changing circumstances. This identi es a need for business decision makers to rethink their processes to acknowledge issues such as the impacts of a decision on the community, natural species and the environment. Trade-offs will need to be made with consideration of relative value with a ranking or scoring of asset values and risks associated with various actions. A life cycle or 'whole-of-life' approach needs to be considered. The object of the exercise is to nd the economic optimum option in a decision, for example, whether to build a coal- red plant for power or use wind power and/or solar. For coal- red power stations, decisions need to include consideration of likely impacts on air emissions, health of the surrounding populations, dirt and particulate deposition and so on. Robert Humphries from Water Corporation then recounted the situation in Busselton, which is faced with an explosion in population and plans for apartment developments and hotels along the seafront. The developments had forced the utility to look at providing a sewage treatment plant, previously not needed because local settlements not directly located on the beachfront had relied on septic systems. Dealing with treated wastewater from a sewage plant posed problems for the area and the regulator, because Geographe Bay has already recorded high nutrient levels and shows signs of eutrophication. The Water Corporation would be faced with a potential nancial cost of $4 million to appropriately deal with the proposed ef uent discharges. Faced with this additional cost, the Corporation did some in-depth research, which revealed that both nutrient loads and eutrophication in the Bay were not from human wastes. They embarked on a major farmer education campaign and assistance package to improve dairy and other agricultural waste management practices, which were very poor. This ended up costing around $1 million. However, the effort and time expended by the Corporation has been well spent. Nutrient loads into Geographe Bay and eutrophication have substantially declined. This case study illustrates how looking deeper into a problem and considering issues other than simple, nancial costs can mean that considerable overall savings can be achieved. AWA Director Peter Moore at the workshop.
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