WA Breakfast – Water Security: Are we in deep water?

Thursday, 22 June 2017
Written by Cris Carvalho, Chair of organising subcommittee

Continuing from previous years’ success, the 2017 WA Breakfast saw an attention-grabbing panel discussion on Australia’s water security. The audience of around 160 attendees was provided with an opening speech from the newly elected Hon. Dave Kelly, Minister for Water; Fisheries; Forestry; Innovation and ICT and Science who shared his delight in maintaining the water portfolio since coming to office early in April this year.

Daniela Tonon, WA Vice-President and long standing committee member, welcomed the Minister and guests and set the scene.  

In his highly engaging style, Jonathan launched the Association’s Channeling Change program which is centred on driving diversity, inclusion and equality in the water sector and invited the new WA based Association Board Director, Dr. Fabiana Tessele to facilitate the discussion. Fabiana further added to the diversity and water security topics by sharing her experiences in the Middle East, where wastewater discharge in nature is not allowed by regulation.

The Breakfast's Water Security theme, well-aligned with the Association's recent discussion paper on Water Security for all Australians, had an eclectic panel:
  • Dr. Martin Anda, Academic Chair of Environment Engineering Murdoch University & 2016 WA Water Professional of the Year
  • Ashley Vincent, General Manager Assets Planning, Water Corporation
  • Francois Gouws, Managing Director, TRILITY & President, Australian Water Association
  • Greg Claydon, Executive Director Science and Planning, Department of Water & Director, CRC for Water Sensitive Cities

The panel kicked off with Dr Anda sharing his views on the water-energy-food-population nexus and how two of his research projects on alternative water supply in WA’s Wheatbelt is looking to answer some of the conventional questions with on-farm Reverse Osmosis systems, and off-grid power supplies is being trialled.

Mr Ashley Vincent reminded us all that many state elections were ‘fought on water security’ and that the WA community is highly sensitized to the water supply and demand issues encountered in the West. Winter rains have not yet arrived despite of the fact Perth recorded its first June rain, 58 mm, the night before the event. Well below the month’s average.

Mr Greg Claydon raised the point on diverse topics within water security, from scarce water source, through pollutants in groundwater, to floods; to the impact climate change is having on cultural heritage. Greg jokingly referred to his ‘5Es’: education, engineering, economics, enforcement and incentives – from behaviour change, confidence, regulation and the benefits on site demonstrations bring to the water recycling conversation, using the Water Corporation’s groundwater replenishment as an example.

Mr Francois Gouws tested the audience by pointing to the fact that 70% of the planet is water, and the issue we face is the portion of this water that is usable for human consumption, and that water industry professionals must be able to make decisions which consider the economic benefits to the population. We will not fall short of water supply but it’s the economic effect that a below standard water supply will have in the community rather than the risk of no water.

The event was then closed with a fun and on-the-spot-live-survey showing on the big screen that more than 75% of survey participants will be returning for next years’ Australian Water Association WA Breakfast.

Thank you to the continuous support from Herbert Smith Freehills in making this prestigious event another success. 

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WA Breakfast 2017
WA Breakfast 2017