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SA Young Water Professionals Forum - Water resourcing for our future

The Young Water Professionals flagship event was finally back after a three year break… and it was terrific to have the room buzzing with conversation and excitement! The event was at capacity, and the attendance rate was 100%! You did not want to arrive late for this one. The forum was hosted at the Adelaide Zoo, and the attendees were treated to a packed day focusing on water resourcing for the future of South Australia.

The keynote speaker was Ashley Kingsborough, Manager Water Security at the Department for Environment and Water. Setting the scene with an overview of water security challenges in SA, Ashley focused on two priorities for the state: Climate resilience and Water as an enabler of sustainable growth. Attendees learnt how the State Government manages water security and climate planning through water allocation and water resource plans, using the recent 2050 Barossa Water Security Strategy as an example.

After Ashley's overview of water security in the state, four speakers from specific industries took the stage to share challenges relating to research and innovation, urban development and stormwater management, utilities, and mining.

Kelly Hill, Senior Consultant at Isle Utilities, described current water resourcing challenges, including recycled water, stormwater management, climate, potable reuse, and environmental/public health. She presented innovative solutions currently in development in different institutions in Australia, highlighting the importance of research, innovation and collaboration.

Simon Sherriff, Manager Strategic Projects at Light Regional Council, described stormwater management challenges related to urban development. With contagious energy and a great sense of humour, Simon focused on the Bunyip Water 'Mark 2' (The Roseworthy Water Scheme) project to improve stormwater management within the catchment and increase the beneficial reuse of stormwater resources.

Gretchen Marshall (Recycled Water Specialist at SA Water) presented how SA Water treats and utilises recycled water across the state. Gretchen highlighted several challenges to increasing recycled water use, including winter demand when irrigation volumes and frequency dramatically reduce. Utilities across the country are looking towards managed aquifer recharge, supplementing environmental flows, industry demand and indirect potable reuse to provide a consistent demand for this precious resource throughout the year.

Finally, Anya Hart (Lead Surface Infrastructure and Water at Oz Minerals) explored -mining pun intended- the industry's requirement for water. She described how mining sites focus heavily on water recycling onsite to maximise utilisation and minimise waste. This practice is critical for an industry with significant water demand in an often-arid environment. Anya's participation exposed YWPs to a new angle of water security.

After a quick stretch and some coffee, all the speakers participated in a guided discussion where attendees were given a 'for' or 'against' card to debate water security challenges, including the use of desalinated water, the use of reused water for potable uses and Australia's water industry's path to have zero net emissions by 2050. This format provided a fun and interactive way to freely discuss barriers, solutions, and alternative strategies.
This packed program finished with an engaging and insightful workshop facilitated by WSP Australia (not without a proper afternoon tea break first). Sarah Hughes and Vaibhav Sankey proposed a hypothetical infrastructure project in remote SA for attendees to analyse and discuss challenges and opportunities using WSP's Future Ready pillars of society, climate, resources, and technology. Each group was given a specific pillar to focus on and develop strategies to ensure resources (including water) were effectively managed during the project's lifetime.

The sell-out event was a great success, and the YWP committee looks forward to creating the next opportunity for YWPs to get together! Keep an eye out for the End of Year Amazing Race event. A much less technical event but just as fun!