In a first for the AWA, the WA branch hosted its Annual Water Industry Breakfast from two separate venues and broadcast live via webinar
. The keynote address and panel discussion were held at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre (Bunbury), the Ministerial address was broadcast live from the Fremantle Ballroom at the Four Points by Sheraton (Perth) and Corinne Cheeseman, AWA CEO, welcomed delegates live from Sydney. The topic, Integrated Water Management for the South West Region
Dr Fabiana Tessele, WA Committee Member and active consultant in the South West WA, acted as the event MC and panel facilitator, thanking our retiring WA Branch President, Rachel Evans and congratulated Peter Moore PSM, who was awarded the AWA’s Lifetime Achievement Award
at Ozwater’20. Fabiana set the scene for the meeting by emphasizing the regions potential to be a global benchmark for sustainability by 2030. By working alongside the traditional custodians of the land, utilising the local highly skilled and diverse workforce and integrating the efforts of universities, utilities, local governments, industry, agribusinesses and the community, we can promote robust policies to achieve a circular economy, leaving no waste behind.
The Hon Dave Kelly BA MLA Minister for Water; Forestry; Innovation and ICT; Science; Youth; acknowledged the continuous services provided by the three main state water utilities (Aqwest – Bunbury Water, Busselton Water and Water Corporation) and the Department of Water Environment and Regulation (DWER), particularly during COVID-19 restrictions. Minister Kelly recognised the continuous impact of climate change in the water sector and various initiatives the State Government is leading to ensure the community is engaged and catered for.
Water Corporation, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), Aqwest – Bunbury Water and Herbert Smith Freehills were the event’s program partners. Pat Donovan (Water Corporation), Dr Nygarie Goyal (DWER) and Mark Crabtree (Aqwest – Bunbury Water) spoke on the importance of collaborative and innovative partnerships as new ways to deliver integrated services to customers in the South West and the far-reaching social, economic, and environmental benefits in doing so.
DWER Director General, Mike Rowe presented the keynote address. Mike outlined a challenge: how do we keep our water sources sustainable whilst we continue to deliver the water needs that make our community liveable as development continues?
The Department is actively working to remove policy barriers in order to foster front end integrated water planning. One very successful example is the pre-feasibility study facilitated by DWER’s South West branch on the fit-for-purpose water for the Wanju development. Mike postulated that the more we commit on integrated water management at conceptual stages of planning, the more adaptive and innovative the solutions will be in supporting liveability needs.
And all this content before the panel discussion even started!
The Heads of Water panel members, Bradd Hamersley (Harvey Water), Chris Vigus (Busselton Water), Gary Hallsworth (Aqwest – Bunbury Water) and John Janssen (Water Corporation) presented their organisation’s opportunities and challenges to implement integrated water management strategies in South West, Western Australia.
A common theme for the utilities, all currently utilising groundwater sources, is the groundwater’s freshwater / seawater interface indeed being a significant driver for innovative multi-layered partnerships in integrated water management. Taking account of all available water and how to best utilise it, whilst continuing to work with the community on water efficiency measures, are seen as essential elements of their respective businesses.
The panel members acknowledged the advancement of technology potentially providing positive economic impact. This together with the value created by strong policy supporting long term planning, avoiding future costs, optimise strategic development solutions.
Having a finite understanding of water resources, being prepared for adversity through well-laid out strategies & plans and working with the community appear to be the pillars of all the organisations represented in the panel.
In summary, mature water stewardship will close the loop and assist the utilities to deliver the correct quality of water, where it is needed, when it is needed, resulting in a sustainable and liveable South West region of WA. Something that we should all be proud of!
Thanks to AWA WA committee for organising and coordinating the event.
This wrap up report was written by Blair Shackleton, GHD & Cris Carvalho, Aqwest - Bunbury Water – AWA WA Committee Members.