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Drought: why are we still surprised?

Queensland’s Young Water Professionals came together in early August for an interactive virtual panel discussion on drought.

We invited four industry experts to share their insights gained through years of lived experience and research. While each panellist brought a diverse lens to the discussion, there were three key takeaways for our audience to consider when thinking about drought response:

Engage early, engage often

Panellist Kelly Fielding, University of Queensland Associate Professor, says drought must be part of the community agenda. Strong water literacy and community consultation combined with industry leadership and advocacy is key to creating a ready and responsive population — and not just in times of drought.

Drought starts before we know it

According to panellist Kate Lanskey, Principal Engineer from Engeny Water Management, it is important to be prepared and optimise planning opportunities outside of crisis mode.

Jill Yeaman, Senior Water Regulatory Officer, Southern Downs Regional Council also emphasised the importance of knowing your water sources and the need to understand water demand and usage while there is still time to plan. Having a clear communications plan that is developed alongside an effective community consultation process is also crucial.

All options must be on the table

Prof Jurg Keller FTSE, IWA Fellow, Advanced Water Management Centre/CRC for Water Sensitive Cities Water highlighted the fact that water consumption behaviours in the South-East Queensland population have improved significantly since the Millennium Drought.

And while improved demand management strategies and water saving behaviours are undoubtedly good outcomes, we must continue to identify new climate resilient and climate independent options — there is no one size fits all approach for every community when it comes to drought management.

Thank you to our event sponsors, Stantec, who generously sponsored this event.