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Increasing water literacy in our communities

It’s the start of another year and if you haven’t done it already, you are probably starting to think about what you want to get out of the year ahead. I have always found that without setting specific, measurable and achievable goals and consciously reminding myself of them, the year slips away all too quickly and those things that I wanted to achieve are relegated to the ‘good intentions’ box.

“That’s a nice, aspirational way to start the year”, I hear your inner monologue say as you read this “but what does it mean to me as a Queensland branch member (or AWA member for that matter)?”.

While the Queensland Branch Committee and Subcommittees strive to deliver upon the Australian Water Association’s core principles of information, networking and recognition in everything we do for you, I can understand if you think the message we deliver seems scattered. Even when delivering a high-quality program of events, without a common theme to tie everything together it can all appear disjointed.

This is reason that the United Nations declares its 'International Years of the…' (by the way, 2019 is International Year of Indigenous Languages, International Year of Moderation and International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements). A dedicated theme for a year allows an organisation to remain true to their core principles in the delivery of their annual program but affords them the opportunity to apply a focused lens to everything that they do.

In 2019, with the World Economic Forum listing Water Crises at number 4 in its Top 5 Global Risks in Terms of Impact, the Queensland Branch will be considering what we can do to increase the water literacy of our communities. Water is at the centre of everything we do, from defining the location of our earliest settlements to controlling the productivity of industry. We as an industry do what we do so well, but the true value of water is poorly understood.

I’m passionate about the subject and could talk forever about it, as I’m sure you could also, but in this column, I’m limited. My call out to each and every one of you, is to do just that: talk about water. Explain to anyone that will listen the value of water.

It was pointed out to me recently that we in the industry are consumed by metrics ($/ML, ML/kWh, breaks/km of main and the list goes on) that make the lay consumer glaze over. When talking about water, simply ask the question: “What does a day without water look like?” No coffee, no cars, no showers… Need I go on?

I wish you all the best for 2019 and look forward to hearing about your conversations at one of our events.

This column was written by Justin Simonis, President of AWA's Queensland Branch, for the February 2019 edition of QLD Source.