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Regional liveability: Fit for purpose, fit for place and fit for people

The Australian Water Association Queensland Committee (AWA QLD) held its first-ever regional technical event outside of Southeast Queensland and streamed it back to the metro areas on 17 March 2023. 

Bundaberg Regional Council was the generous host for the event and sponsored morning tea along with hosting a site visit to the Belle Eden Waterway Naturalisation Project. The technical event showcased the efforts of the Wide Bay Burnett Region and regional Queensland in maximising its world-class natural assets and developing thriving communities.  

Speakers from across the water sector shared their strategies and contributions to improving regional liveability, including:

"Bundaberg Regional Council's Stormwater Strategy" presented by Dwayne Honor and Tim Fichera, Bundaberg Regional Council. Dwayne and Tim shared their experiences developing an award-winning stormwater strategy built around improved outcomes for communities using natural solutions. The site visit to Belle Eden Park demonstrated the interaction the communities were able to have with the improved drainage channel whilst accomplishing stormwater quality and management objectives.

Ben McClatchie from Wide Bay Water and Waste Services at Fraser Coast Regional Council spoke on the "Fraser Coast Regional Council's Recycled Water Strategy.” Ben discussed the economics of project decision-making in a local context, adapting data from metro areas to inform a triple-bottom-line sustainable solution that is locally connected recycled water supply to forestry in the Wide Bay region.

Chris Manning from the Urban Water Advisory and an AWA QLD Committee Member passionately spoke on "Liveability through Water Quality Offsets", advocating for cross-disciplinary solutions that are “fit for purpose, fit for place and fit for people.” Chris showcased projects across regional Queensland in places such as Mackay, Townsville, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gladstone and further afield in Orange, NSW.

Linda Roberts, Director Innovation and Partnership from the Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater) presented on the impact of the industry’s skills shortage on regional liveability. Her call to action to the audience was that “wicked problems need every helping hand.”

Sally Boer from E2 Design Lab brought the presentations to a close with “Alternative Water Sources for Liveability and Resilience”, asking the audience to shift their mindset to view the challenges faced by the water industry as opportunities.

The technical event wrapped up with a site visit to the Belle Eden waterway, an impressive project that restored the drainage channel to a natural waterway. The improved stormwater quality and treat polluted stormwater runoff and created an attractive and usable recreational space for residents.

The diverse range of speakers focusing on stormwater, recycled water, skills and integrated water management knit together core themes applicable to the water industry as a whole: the strong connection to water and land, the importance of community and industry engagement and a call to action for transdisciplinary collaboration.

Narelle D’Amico, Branch Manager Water Services, Bundaberg Regional Council: “It was a privilege to not just showcase Bundaberg and our Wide Bay area to the broader water industry, but to connect and share with peers, and be inspired by these ideas and actions. I am thankful that we had such a strong turnout from across the state and interest online, and for the opportunity presented by the Australian Water Association.”

Thanks to Bundaberg Regional Council, specifically to Narelle D’Amico (Branch Manager Water Services) and Tory Watson (Branch Management Support Officer) for their generous sponsorship and tireless effort to ensure the technical event ran smoothly. Additional thanks to Carlie Sargent, AWA QLD Member Engagement Manager, and the AWA QLD Organising Committee. Lastly, thank you to all attendees, in person and virtual for their ongoing support.