2018 WA Water Industry Breakfast: Transitioning to a Water Smart City and Community

19 June 2018 I Perth

2018 WA Water Industry Breakfast

The 2018 WA annual breakfast - Transitioning to a Water Smart City and Community - was held on Tuesday, 19 June at the Pan Pacific Perth. Once again our program partner for the event was Herbert Smith Freehills, with branch support provided by our partners, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and the Water Corporation. 

As our keynote speaker, the Hon Dave Kelly MLA, offered an overview of the labour government’s initiatives including METRONET and how it will make our city more enjoyable by improving connectivity between suburbs. More importantly, the collaborative planning work regarding essential services such as water, energy, health etc that is required for METRONET will create a city that is vibrant, liveable, resilient and sustainable with a supportive economy and adapted to a drying climate. 

Mike Rowe, Director General of DWER, facilitated our panel of experts admirably. The panellists included:

Sue Murphy, CEO Water Corporation
Allison Hailes, CEO UDIA WA and Board of Cooperative Research Centre Water Sensitive Cities
Rhonda Hardy, CEO City of Kalamunda
David MacLennan, Acting Assistant Director General - Strategy and Engagement, Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.

The discussion highlighted some exciting examples of projects and programs already building this water smart city and community, as well as some lively discussions on both the barriers we face and the opportunities available. 

On a broad scale, there was agreement that water smart cities need to be prioritised strategically rather than a project by project fashion or by individual parties. This would allow for the technical solutions to respond to the context and provide a clearer vision for all parties involved. While it's clear that there are small actions and programs that can be utilised everywhere, the more innovative and expensive solutions will not apply across the board. 

Community was another strong theme of the morning. Responding appropriately to the local context includes the communities needs and values. Many of the parties involved in building a water smart city have a mandate to the community and are seen to be spending the community's money. From recent surveys we know that there is still work to be done in the public awareness and education space regarding the appropriate use of all water sources. Consequently, the utility of the future is generally viewed (across Australia) as one who continues to provide the services we've always had, which is the expectation of the majority who value sustainability but are not expecting to pay more or change their behaviours to do so, and invests in innovation. 

Regarding the implementation of water smart cities, there were a number of comments regarding economic models to ensure business cases price the intangibles and encompass the whole of system cost (e.g. including energy). Intangibles include aspects such as health, offsetting the heat island effect and the future value of properties. 

All panellists agreed the transition will be improved with better alignment towards the shared vision, stronger collaboration, more communication and increased transparency across all parties involved, including the wider community. It is understood that the outcome of WA's historically fragmented water policy and regulation can result in conflicting advice/requirements across state agencies. A clearer vision and improved alignment across government will be beneficial for everyone and enable innovation that responds to strategic goals to flourish. 

A very big thank you goes out to our WA Networking and Industry Development Sub Committee, including Cristiano Carvalho, Don Crawford, Vicky Whiffin, Jiaqi Xu and the team, in conjunction with WA Branch Manager, Kyllie Whitehead for their hard work in putting together this very successful event on the WA calendar. 

View all the photos of the event by clicking on the photo gallery below:

2018 WA Water Industry Breakfast Photo Gallery

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