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Creating a culture of innovation to improve water services

A culture of innovation is helping to shape the future of Bundaberg Regional Council (BRC) and its water services delivery.

Branch Manager Water Services Narelle D’Amico said BRC had a vision to be the best regional community in Australia.

“You can really only do that if you develop leadership and innovation culture,” D'Amico said.

“We’ve certainly been tapping into industry bodies and advocacy groups to ensure we’re getting the best outcome for our community.

“Council is leveraging off State and Federal Government initiatives around environmental offsetting and considering where those methods can be used in place of traditional engineering solutions.

“As a water business we’re investing in our network to provide and advocate for change in the way we traditionally source and treat products.”

D'Amico said offsetting would enable BRC, through its water operations, to invest positively in the environment and community.

“We’re actually looking at whether or not we can change the way we view the need for engineered water and wastewater solutions," she said.

“Currently there is a greater focus on riparian investment at our discharge locations.

“Instead of trying to use facilities and technology to eliminate nitrate and phosphorous in our treatment process, we’re looking at whether or not we can use complementary approaches, allowing for the environment to further treat naturally.”

D'Amico said a collaboration with neighbouring councils, through the Wide Bay Burnett Organisation of Councils, was also helping to improve processes.

“I think it’s innovative in the way our councils are working together,” she said.

“We’re learning from the lessons and achievements of other water businesses and sharing our information in a collaborative way.”

Bundaberg’s culture of innovation was also showcased at the Queensland Local Government conference in Cairns last week.

BRC Executive Director Strategic Projects and Economic Development Ben Artup spoke about the importance of innovation at a regional and industry level.

Regions and industries that innovate will flourish, says BRC's Ben Artup.

He cited examples such as BRC's leadership of a collaborative project to reduce urban glow, collecting data to assess light pollution impacts on nesting turtles.

“Regions and industries that can compete and innovate will flourish, creating a virtuous circle of opportunity,” Artup said.

“Those that can’t innovate or compete will languish in a vicious circle of never-ending challenge and disappointment.”

He said BRC had supported initiatives such as the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards, a resident Chief Entrepreneur and talking with NASA to establish a Challenger Learning Center.

“We’ve also innovated with how we communicate," Artup said.

“With a dearth of positive local journalism, which in the digital age can ruin the way a city is perceived as a place to invest, we created our media publishing outlet Bundaberg Now.

“This council-run outlet now gets 50,000 visits per month and allows us to position our region more positively in the media landscape.”

D'Amico said BRC was pleased to align with the Australian Water Association as the principle partner of National Water Week.

“They really provide a strong benchmark for a water business and between our two organisations, there’s a good alignment in the vision.”

To learn more about National Water Week, click here.