Water reform agenda drives growth of SA water sector
On 19 October the Australian Water Association hosted the second annual Minister’s Breakfast event, welcoming back the Hon. Ian Hunter MLC, Minister for Water and the River Murray, as our keynote speaker.
Minister Hunter began by reflecting on the recent wet weather and highlighted the impact of climate change and the need to continually look at more integrated approaches to water management. “With the combination of urban infill and more severe and frequent storm events, stormwater management will become a more pressing water issue over the coming decades.” he said.
Supporting a renewed stormwater management agenda, last December the Minister took part in launching the Stormwater Management Authority’s Strategic Plan. The Stormwater Management Authority are responsible for administering the government’s $140 million Stormwater Management Fund, and are proactively working with state and local government to ensure that we are aware of the likely needs for stormwater management over the coming decades.
Recognising that environmental and economic outcomes in water management are not mutually exclusive Minister Hunter noted that “we need to continue to recognise the important link between water policy and industry growth.”
Posing the question to the near 90 people in the audience, Minister Hunter asked “how do we build on the current strengths of the South Australian water sector and leverage new growth and employment?”
The Minister suggested the answer was threefold: firstly, support for the development of robust water policy jointly with industry. Secondly, industry needs to position itself to add value to and capture opportunity from government investments like the Stormwater Management Fund. Thirdly, leveraging opportunities from international interest in State’s water expertise.
In summation he said that “what is critical in each of these is the need to continue the strong partnership approach between government, industry, research providers and the capacity building sector.”
Minister Hunter left the audience with his readiness and commitment to work together with industry in the development of a water reform agenda which will drive water sector and State economic growth.
Opening the floor to questions the Minister eloquently spoke ‘off the cuff’ about the sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism in the Basin Plan, and what this means for the River Murray in South Australia.
Following the breakfast the discussion and questions continued through an online poll and discussion board. We are still collating the information from this discussion and will be presenting a report to the Minister shortly. It will also feature in a future edition of Source SA, so keep an eye out.
For many of us there aren’t too many opportunities to directly ask questions of our state water Minister; the Minister’s breakfast provides this valuable opportunity. With continued support and interest from our water industry members, the SA Branch committee look forward to hosting this annual event next year.
Thank you to our event sponsors SA Water and KPMG.