Water Wednesday – ‘Making consultation more effective’

Making consultation more effective will be the subject of a free public forum at the University of Adelaide this Wednesday, 13 April.

Hosted by the Water Research Centre, the ‘Water Wednesday’ forum will focus on improving community and industry engagement in natural resources management.

Water Research Centre Director Associate Professor Justin Brookes says there are concerns that community engagement needs to be more effective in order to support key reforms in water management.

“We need to ensure that the story of good science is told well and that data is accessible to the communities and stakeholders who will be affected by recommended reforms,” says Associate Professor Brookes.

“The process of consulting with community and interest groups needs to be just as well researched and advanced as the evolving science designed to support management decisions.”

Guest presenters at the forum will include:

• Ms Ann Shaw-Rungie, private consultant specialising in facilitation and community engagement

• Assoc Prof David Paton, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide

• Ms Ruchira Talukdar, Healthy Ecosystems Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation.

Speakers will give examples and suggestions on how to build community and industry support for sustainable resource management and to undertake necessary reforms such as in water management. The forum will explore the way that communication is changing, with social media and networks, and more sophisticated technologies for more immediate social connections.

Assoc Prof Brookes said, “The recent stormy process of consultation for the Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan discredited the good science underpinning the Plan, and has undermined and delayed the consultation process for critical water reforms.”

“This Water Wednesday forum aims to present examples of effective engagement, and to draw conclusions about how to learn from these experiences to assist the water reform process through better engagement with community groups and stakeholders.”

WHERE: Napier 102 Lecture Theatre, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide

WHEN: 5.30pm–6.45pm, Wednesday 13 April

COST: Free, but bookings essential. BOOK HERE

Is storm water flowing to the sea really wasted?

Engineers Australia awarded Adelaide’s storm water infrastructure a D. We harvest more storm water than any other state yet our infrastructure is lagging and there is an increasing push to harvest more and more storm water for reuse within urban Adelaide.

Yet is storm water flowing to the sea really wasted? Freshwater flows into marine environments provides connectivity between marine, estuarine and freshwater systems. It’s important to maintain salinity gradients, transport nutrients and maintain productivity.

However for a city that is facing increasing water scarcity, storm water is an important resource to ensure water supplies. Some of the advantages storm water reuse include, reduced flow of pollutants into the Gulf, it is less susceptible to climate change effects and is more energy efficient that desalination.

The first Water Wednesday forum for 2010 examined whether or not storm water flowing to the sea is really wasted. If you would like a detailed explanation, you can download the podcasts and pdfs from this forum here. Experts on storm water use like Professor Graeme Dandy, Alan Ockenden and Chris Bice gave their perspectives on the engineering, infrastructure and ecological aspects of storm water reuse.

For more information the Engineers Australia report visit adelaidenow

Water Wednesday Podasts Now Available

Audio visual material from yesterday’s Water Wednesday presentations is now available here.

Water Wednesday – Is there really spare water in the South East?
A special forum presented by the Water Research Centre at the University of Adelaide on 23 June 2010.

Many people in the wider community think that water is being wasted by flowing out to sea via the South East drainage system, but is there really water to spare? Over 48% of the South East region were originally wetlands, providing abundant water source for agricultural development.  Now it is less than 6 percent.  Does the South East have enough water for its own economic, environmental and social needs, let alone water to spare for diversion to other regions? 

This event was well attended and a great opportunity for attendees to listen to experts and to express their own views.

To view audio visual material, click here.

Key Murray-Darling water sites identified.

This week the Murray-Darling Basin Authority identified the key wetlands and ecosystems which will be made a priority for water. Identification of these key environmental assets in the Murray-Darling Basin forms part of a new basin-wide plan to manage sustainably the surface and groundwater resources in the basin.

“The Authority would use the environmental water requirements of the Basin’s key ecosystem functions and 18 of the Basin’s key environmental assets (listed below) to provide vital information for modelling sustainable diversion limits (SDLs). The SDLs are the limits on the quantities of surface water and groundwater that can be taken from the Basin water resources taking into account environmental water requirements and a social and economic analysis,” Mike Taylor, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority Chair said.

“However, it is important to appreciate that how the overall environmental water requirements of the Basin will be managed is yet to be determined. This will be set out in the Environmental Watering Plan, as part of the proposed Basin Plan.”

Researchers from the Water Research Centre (WRC) in the Environment Institute work extensively within several of these iconic sites and ecosystems. Two of the Water Wednesday forums presented by the WRC have examined how these sites can be sustainably managed. Podcasts from these forum are available to download.

The first was called  Sustaining the River Murray with less – ‘how science can  enable water managers and business investment to manage sustainably with 30% less water’ the podcasts for this event can be accessed here.

The second Water Wednesday forum was ‘Managing the Murray icon sites: can engineering save the environment?’ the podcasts from this forum can be downloaded from here.

The 18 indicator sites are

  • Lower Balonne River Floodplain System
  • Narran Lakes
  • Lower Goulburn River Floodplain
  • Gwydir Wetlands
  • Booligal Wetlands
  • Great Cumbung Swamp
  • Lachlan Swamp
  • Lower Darling River System
  • Macquarie Marshes
  • Barmah-Millewa Forest
  • The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth,
  • Riverland – Chowilla Floodplain (including Lindsay, Mulcra and Wallpolla Islands)
  • Edward-Wakool River System
  • Gunbower-Koondrook-Pericoota Forest
  • Hattah Lakes
  • Lower Murrumbidgee River Floodplain
  • Mid Murrumbidgee River Wetlands
  • Wimmera River Terminal Wetlands

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority media release

Water Wednesday Forum – Podcasts Now Available

Water Wednesday forum “Is storm water flowing to sea really wasted?” now available as podcasts.

The Water Research Centre  presented a special forum on 24 March as part of its Water Wednesday series, entitled: “Is storm water flowing to sea really wasted?”

Speakers addressed topics of alternative water sources, where storm water fits in the mix of water sources, the process of storing water, options for capturing and recycling storm water, alternative sources, and provision for environmental needs for flows downstream of dams.

Click here to access podcasts and PowerPoint presentations from the event.

Clean Water for a Healthy World, World Water Day 2010

March 22 is World Water Day, 2010’s theme is “Clean Water for a Healthy World.”

It is estimated that one is six people on the globe do not have access to clean drinking water, this is about 1.1 billion people whose water supplies are contaminated and unsafe to use. “More people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war… The world has the know-how to solve these challenges and become better stewards of our water resources. Water is central to all our development goals… let us protect and sustainably manage our waters for the poor, the vulnerable and for all live in Earth”  Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the UN commented.

On World Water Day in Australia there has been call to price water according to its actual worth. Water supply in Australia fluctuates substantially, however the price of water does not reflect these changes in supply and demand. The Environment Institute’s Director, Mike Young advocates pricing water according to availability, where all users pay the same price for every cubic metre. “Inclining block tariff schemes should be phased out,” he said. “They are very inequitable. Only help those in need and use targeted programs to do this. Consider increasing Centrelink and pension payments instead.”

Studies released by the OECD to coincide with WWD, say that correctly pricing water encourages more sustainable usage investment in water infrastructure and a reduction in pollution. These products of putting the right price on water could help the world achieve the Millenium Development Goal of clean safe water for half of the 1.1 billion without access to safe water.

On March 24, the first Water Wednesday forum for 2010 falls in the same week as the World Water Day. The topic is “Is storm water flowing out to sea really wasted?” To reserve a place at this seminar click here.

Is storm water flowing to sea really wasted?

A Water Wednesday forum will be held on March 24 to discuss: “Is storm water flowing to sea really wasted?”

This special forum will be presented by the Water Research Centre at the University of Adelaide on March 24, 2010.

Concerns about drought and water restrictions have heightened awareness of water spilling from storages when enough rain falls for water to flow into dams and eventually overflow.  News crews scramble to get footage of water streaming over spillways, and letters to the editor express outrage that the government is allowing water to be wasted. But is it really wasted? When is it rainwater, when is it run-off and when is it storm water? How easy is it to capture storm water, store it, treat it and distribute it to consumers?

Speakers will talk about alternative water sources, where storm water fits in the mix of water sources, the process of storing water, options for capturing and recycling storm water, alternative sources and provision for environmental needs for flows downstream of dams.

Although admission is free, you will need to reserve a seat.  For more information about the forum and to register online, please click here.