The Institute had a strong presence at the recent Ozwater’12 conference acknowledging achievements in the water sector, future challenges and opportunities.
The issue of water availability within our cities and in regional areas has been highlighted by the prolonged drought through the first decade of the 21st century and the recent floods in Eastern Australia. The conference acknowledged there is a need to strike a balance that recognises the demands to supply water for municipal purposes, to produce food and fibre and to support viable and diverse ecological systems.
Dr Pierre Mukheibir gave a presentation on adaptive planning for resilient urban water systems under an uncertain future. This presentation focused on the adaptive planning approach developed by ISF for the Melbourne Metro Utilities’ next fifty year Water Supply Demand Strategy that incorporate the value of water, future uncertainty and suites of options. Incorporating multiple values of water into the decision making approach acknowledges the way in which water contributes to a sustainable, liveable, prosperous and healthy city as well as values attached to individual supply options.
Andrea Turner spoke at a workshop for water practitioners interested in developing water recycling schemes titled ‘Water recycling – who really benefits? Who really pays?’ This workshop considered the costs and benefits of water recycling and identified beneficiaries who could contribute funding. The workshop drew extensively an ISF research project examining the costs and benefits of decentralised systems. Rachel Watson, a PhD Candidate with the Institute who is investigating the full spectrum of costs and benefits of decentralised recycled water schemes under varying governance arrangements, also spoke at this workshop.
Dr Damien Giurco spoke about the economics of water at a session titled “The future role of water efficiency in Australia: developing and promoting a common approach”. Participants at this session identified priority actions in the following areas: valuing efficiency in water supply/demand management; retaining water efficiency knowledge and skills; efficiency and resilience.
Dena Fam, an ISF PhD candidate, presented a paper on social learning and cross disciplinary input into decision making and planning for sustainability in the water sector. The presentation highlighted a two year project with Yarra Valley Water, in which social learning processes were adopted to capture multi-stakeholder experiences of urine diversion systems, and articulate organisational learning to collaboratively develop strategies for action.
Professor Stuart White was a panelist on the Water Leaders’ Forum, an interactive session following the opening of the conference, that encouraged debate and discussion of the critical issues facing the water sector. The panelists responded to questions submitted by delegates at the time they registered for the event and questions from the floor. These question covered issues of governance and reform, productivity, private sector involvement in water, pricing and cost, climate change and adaptation, sustainability, and research.