Feedback on DEWS 30- year Strategy Discussion Paper - "Shaping our water future"

Feedback  on  DEWS  30-­‐year   Strategy  Discussion  Paper  –   “Shaping  our  water  future”            

28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 2   Table  of  Contents     1 Introduction 3     2 General  Feedback 4   2.1 Challenges 4   2.1.1 Streamlined,  Integrated  catchment  management 4   2.1.2 Value  water 4   2.1.3 Wastewater  &  use  of  recycled  water 4     3 Part  2:  Feedback  on  the  discussion  paper  questions 4   3.1 Regulation 4   3.2 Water  business  sustainability 5   3.3 Innovation 6   3.4 Integrated  planning 7   3.5 Empowering  customers 8   3.6 Pricing 9   3.7 Further  ideas 9

28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 3   1  Introduction     Griffith University welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Department of Energy & Water   Supply’s  recently  released  discussion  paper  entitled  “Shaping  our  water  future”.       Griffith  University  is  internationally  recognized  for  its  research  and  teaching  in  freshwater,  estuarine   and urban water At Griffith, Water Science research and expertise are embedded in several   departments,  reflecting  the  multi-­‐disciplinary  nature  of  water  research,  in  particular  in  the  Smart   Water Research Centre, the Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, and the Australian Rivers   Institute.

Griffith University’s feedback on the discussion paper and specific questions reflects this   breadth  of  expertise.

28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 4   2 General  Feedback   2.1 Challenges   The  challenges  posed  to  the  security  and  reliability  of  Queensland’s  water  supply  over  the  next  30   years  by  continuing  rapid  population  growth  and  industrial  expansion  are  correctly  highlighted  in  the   discussion  paper.  ,.  However,  climate  change  and  climate  variability  are  also  key  factors  that  will  exert   considerable  influence  over  water  security  and  reliability  and  should  also  be  considered  in  any  long   term  planning.   2.1.1 Streamlined,  Integrated  catchment  management   We  believe  that  if  Queensland  is  to  achieve  water  security,  reliability  and  affordability  it  is  essential   that management of catchments and associated reservoirs be coordinated and match to the   topographic  boundaries.

2.1.2 Value  water   Water should be valued not only for the benefits which it delivers in household, agricultural &   industrial uses, but also for the considerable social benefits derived from catchment-­‐related   ecosystem  services  such  as  flood  regulation  and  water-­‐based  recreation.   2.1.3 Wastewater  &  use  of  recycled  water   We  note  that  water  recovery  after  waste  treatment  has  not  been  considered  and  that  recycled  water   is  only  designated  for  industrial  use.

Recycled  water  should  be  considered  as  an  option  for  all  uses  of   water  and  particularly  where  new  water  sources  are  required.  Recycled  water  should  be  assessed  on   equal merits as other sources of water based on sustainability, economic, social/cultural values.   Water  recycling  projects  throughout  Australia  have  often  failed,  not  because  of  technical,  economic   or environmental impacts but because of the social acceptability of using water that has been   identified  as  passing  through  a  sewage  treatment  plant.  The  recovery  of,  not  just  the  water  but,  other   resources, such as phosphorus should be considered for new and existing sewage treatment   processes.

Many  other  beneficial  uses  of  recycled  water  are  possible,  such  as  irrigation  and  potable   reuse. The Queensland government has invested massively in infrastructure (e.g., the Western   Corridor  Scheme)  and  research  (e.g.,  Urban  Water  Security  Research  Alliance)  to  develop  a  supply  of   water  that  relies  on  multiple  sources  to  ensure  a  safe,  sustainable  and  reliable  supply  of  water  for  the   future  of  all  Queenslanders.  This  investment  should  not  be  wasted.   Whilst  it  is  raining  it  is  an  opportune  moment  to  proactively  inform  the  community  about  the  pros   and cons of water recycling.

The Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence is based in   Queensland,  it  would  be  prudent  for  the  State  Government  to  engage  and  take  advantages  of  the   outputs  from  this  centre  in  promoting  the  use  of  recycled  water.     3 Part  2:  Feedback  on  the  discussion  paper  questions   3.1 Regulation   What  needs  to  be  done  to  create  a  light-­‐handed  regulatory  model?   How can we maintain the integrity of the regulatory framework (e.g.

drinking water quality,   environmental  protection,  public  health)  while  reducing  the  regulatory  burden?   What  needs  to  be  regulated?

28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 5   What  can  move  towards  self-­‐regulation?   A  number  of  government  departments  regulate  or  have  an  interest  in  water  and  sewerage  services.  In   what  ways  could  this  be  better  streamlined?   There are currently 7-­‐8 government departments with regulatory responsibilities for water. This   renders the regulatory processes onerous, and can lead to duplication and inefficiency.

Current   regulation  is  fragmented  and  serves  the  department  rather  than  the  sector.   Self-­‐regulation  of  water  services  is  not  recommended.   Regulation  of  water  and  water  service  providers  is  required  to  ensure  the  maintenance  of  public  and   environmental  health.  There  is  a  significant  risk  that  self-­‐regulation  would  lead  to  dangerous  trade-­‐ offs  between  safe  and  sustainable  water  provision  and  capital  benefits  to  the  shareholders  of  the   water  utilities.   Suggested  solutions  for  consideration:   There is a pressing need for catchment scale integrated regulation that matches the topographic   boundaries  of  the  catchments  and  addresses  all  stages  of  the  water  cycle  coherently  and  consistently.

The  objectives  of  catchment  scale,  water  cycle  focussed  regulation  would  be  to  secure  cost  effective   quality and quantity of water provision and encourage appropriate and efficient allocation of a   spectrum  of  different  water  products  (e.g.  raw  water,  processed  potable  water,  recycled  water  ...)   among  a  range  of  different  uses  (household,  agriculture,  mineral  extraction,  food  processing . .

Studies  have  shown  that  raw  water  quality  in  southeast  Queensland  is  deteriorating  so  a  ‘business  as   usual’  approach  for  this  region  will  not  provide  a  reliable  and  high  quality  water  supply  in  the  future.   There  are  two  main  options  for  dealing  with  this  issue  i)  upgrade  the  treatment  plants  and  supply   infrastructure or ii) improve the condition of the catchments. A whole-­‐of-­‐catchment approach is   needed  to  trade  off  future  upgrades  of  assets  with  mitigation  of  water  quality  within  catchments.   There  is  much  to  learn  from  the  legislation  of  the  Sydney  Catchment  Authority  which  says  that  any   development  that  potentially  impacts  land  catchment  management  must  have  a  beneficial  or  neutral   effect  on  water  quality.

A  similar  approach  in  Queensland,  adapted  for  local  conditions,  would  be  a   major  step  forward  towards  improving  water  quality.  We  suggest  a  risk-­‐based  approach  to  regulation   rather  than  a  performance-­‐based  criteria  approach   Water  planning  would  also  benefit  from  more  involvement  of  a  quasi-­‐independent  body  such  as  Qld   Water  Directorate  /  SEQ  catchments.   3.2 Water  business  sustainability   How do we facilitate the sustainability of service providers, particularly those who already have   difficulties  with  revenue,  resources  and/or  skills  to  maintain  and  deliver  water  supply  and  sewerage   services?   Currently  Queensland  has  a  large  number  of  water  providers  a  number  of  which  are  inadequately   staffed  and  have  with  limited  resources,  and  in  some  cases,  limited  skills  and  expertise.

Equally  it  is  a   difficult balance to maintain performance criteria for regulators and to retain skilled workers for   small,  and/or  regional  service  providers.   Small water providers are at a major disadvantage in today’s water sector. The provision of safe,   sustainable  and  good  quality  water  requires  significant  technical  expertise  and  finances.  Additionally,   issues faced by small water suppliers across different localities are very similar, and there is a  

28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 6   significant  opportunity  for  streamlining  the  current  model  by  pooling  the  multitude  of  small  water   suppliers into a larger entity with a global vision and a pooled funding, knowledge and technical   expertise, as has been done in the past 10-­‐20 years in NSW and Vic. This pooling would result in   greatly  improved  efficiency  and  significant  savings,  which  can  then  be  passed  on  to  the  consumer.   Potential  solutions  for  consideration  could  be:   Larger  water  authorities  can  play  a  coordinator  role  providing  expertise  and  knowledge  to  the  smaller   providers.

Fora  could  be  organised  for  information  exchanges  and  indeed  some  services  this  is  already   in  place  (need  example).  NSW  and  Victoria  have  successfully  implemented  such  a  model  and  have   amalgamated  the  smaller  water  providers  providing  the  small  providers  with  the  knowledge,  training   and resources. If there was a central body responsible for all aspects of water management and   supply,  it  could  provide  a  link  to  these  resources.  QldWater  (the  Directorate)  is  close  to  this  but  is   currently  under  resourced  therefore  is  forced  to  be  selective  in  membership  and  services  they  can   offer.

3.3 Innovation   How  do  we  encourage  and  reward  innovation?   The development of a resilient and growing water sector is critical to creating and maintaining   resilient  and  reliable  water  sources  and  water  allocation  in  the  near  and  foreseeable  future.  is  The   Water  Industry  Skills  Taskforce  concluded  at  the  2012  Skills  Forum  that  there  is  no  skills  shortage   despite  the  aging  demographic  within  the  industry  and  a  looming  depletion  of  water  managers  and   skilled operators within the next 5-­‐15 years   (http://www.awa.asn.au/uploadedfiles/Water_Industry_Skills_Forum_Report.pdf ).

This has serious   implications for the industry as it impacts on funding allocation for skills development. Without   ongoing  support  for  the  water  sector  skill-­‐base  the  water  science  capabilities,  knowledge  etc.

will  be   lost.  Additionally,  in  the  future  Queensland  can  position  itself  as  an  innovator  in  the  water  industry   but  this  requires  talented,  well-­‐trained  staff  at  all  stages  of  their  career  (including  vocational,  para-­‐ professionals,  degree  and  higher  degree  trained  professionals)   Potential  solutions  for  consideration  are:   Streamlined integration between water authorities would facilitate training and professional   development  of  the  work  force.  Further,  if  peak  water  bodies  were  better  resourced  they  could  also   play  a  role  in  professional  development.

Other  sources  of  knowledge  and  skills  development  can  be  accessed  from  the  knowledge  base  within   universities,  research  institutes,  and  science  centres.  These  institutions  know  that  innovative  research   underpins the ongoing recognition of professional, resilient and well-­‐respected water science   professionals.   The current lack of encouragement to innovate and lack of recognition that innovation leads to   positive  change  stifles  innovation  in  the  water  sector.   A  major  issue  is  that  the  water  sector  does  not  currently  value  natural  capital  assets  in  catchments   and the emphasis is placed instead on built infrastructure.

Quantification of the social value   ecosystem services provided by natural capital assets in catchments would assist in this regard.   Further,  innovative  water  research  needs  to  be  more  strongly  valued  and  supported  by  for  example,   Future  Funds.

28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 7   Potential  solutions  are  as  follows:
  • It is critical for the water industry to collaborate with researchers to develop innovative   solutions  to  challenging  problems  in  the  future  throughout  the  entire  water  supply  chain.
  • Payment  (or  recognition  for)  for  ecosystem  services  should  be  encouraged,  based  on  accurate   estimates of the net social value which these ecosystem services deliver e.g.

For example,   paying  farmers  to  change  their  land  management  practises  in  catchments  headwaters  could   be  a  considerably  more  efficient  way  of  reducing  nutrient  and  sediment  loads  which  enter  the   potable  water  supply  system  than  retro-­‐fitting  or  up-­‐grading  the  nutrient  removal  capabilities   of  existing  sewage  treatment  plants  further  down  the  catchment  .

  • Innovation in both agriculture and industry could continue to reduce water use and their   environmental  impact.
  • Innovation  needs  to  be  centred  around  the  concept  of  Water  Sensitive  Cities  –  where  water   and  wastewater  are  considered  in  tandem
  • Need  to  support  institutions  that  encourage,  foster  and  implement  innovative  development
  • Encouragement  and  reward  for  innovation  and  R  &  D  may  include:
  • Reduce  costs  and  resources  to  supply  suitable  quality  /  fit  for  purpose  water
  • Improve water security, consumer will use more water and service provider will increase   revenue
  • Enhanced  consumer  choice,  cost  reductions.
  • Wastewater generation increases if water consumption increases...need to consider   this...alternative  water  recycling  options  /  uses.
  • (Cash)  Innovation  Awards  and  peer  recognition   3.4 Integrated  planning   Do  our  future  needs  work  together  or  do  they  conflict?   How  do  we  encourage  integrated  catchment-­‐based  services  and  better  long-­‐term  planning?   By  far  the  biggest  user  of  water  is  agriculture.  Urban  water  users  have  already  greatly  contributed  to   reducing  their  water  usage  in  Queensland,  and  the  focus  now  needs  to  shift  to  agricultural  water  use.   In  particular,  new  practices  and  crops  that  require  less  watering  should  be  encouraged  and  supported   via  investment  and  public  awards.   Deteriorating  water  quality  and  increasing  water  scarcity  render  the  current  and  future  challenges   more  intense.  There  are  53  water  basins  in  Queensland  making  the  sector  highly  complex.  A  more   integrated  approach  is  needed.  Additionally,  there  would  be  benefit  integrating  planning  across  the   whole  water  cycle.  This  also  means  that  the  water-­‐energy-­‐food  nexus  needs  to  be  integrated  into   future  supply,  public  health  and  environmental  health  management  strategies.  This  includes  irrigation   which  has  not  been  considered  to  be  part  of  the  water  sector  in  the  Discussion  document  –  it  even   has  a  separate  peak  body  “Australian  Irrigators”.  Additionally,  climate  change  and  the  reality  of  an   underlying  decline  in  water  quality  and  ecosystem  health  also  need  to  be  addressed  in  tandem  with   future  supply  and  demand  forecasting.   We  propose  a  model  where  there  is  a  catchment  authority  which  has  multiple  stakeholders,  and  is   properly  resourced.  It  needs  to  have  a  Chief  Scientific  Officer  and  is  responsible  for  selecting  science   providers.  Key  roles  could  be:
  • Controls  funding  allocation  to  implementers  
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  • Provides  regulation  oversight
  • Provides  central  planning  targets
  • Has  influence  on  water  supply  bodies   DSITIA  may  play  a  role  in  monitoring  and  evaluating  performance   There  is  currently  a  tension  between  water  security  and  public  accountability.
  • ‘fit-­‐for-­‐purpose’  is  missing  in  water  quality  regulations  –  how  do  you  manage  service  providers   and  regulate  and  manage  environment
  • Climate change also needs to be addressed in tandem with future supply and demand   forecasting
  • Too  many  water  providers,  too  many  regulators.  (e.g.
  •  Qld  Health  v  EPA  v  DEWS)
  • Additionally, as there are many common problems across catchments, greater information   sharing across catchments is needed. The integration of sections of multiple departments   responsible for water is one way of achieving this. Additionally, a Regulators and water   managers  Forum  could  provide  the  opportunity  for  issues  to  be  tabled,  liaison  officers  could   participate  and  this  would  provide  open  communication.     3.5 Empowering  customers   How  can  service  providers  improve  their  engagement  with  their  consumers?   Greater  communication  between  the  public  and  the  water  industry  is  needed  because  the  public  does   not  understand  the  cost  of  water,  they  are  nervous  about  recycled  water  and  they  do  not  understand   the  impediments  to  providing  water  security.   Potential  solutions  to  engagement  with  consumers  are:
  • To Educate consumers by providing more candid coverage of the problems, issues and   challenges faced by the water supply industry. .
  • This involves open communication to   encourage  and  educate  the  public  and  stimulate  their  involvement  in  the  discussion.  There  is  a   need  to  build  trust  between  providers  and  customers,  particularly  since  the  floods  in  the  last  2   years. If the customer trusts the Water Authority then they are more likely to accept that   recycled  water  is  safe,  for  example.  This  information  should  be  provided  so  that  it  is  “simple   enough  to  understand  but  technical  enough  to  be  trusted”
  • Programs within school, government, universities exist to inform people on where water   comes  from,  agricultural  uses.
  • Community  surveys  /  interviews  are  needed  to  capture  baseline  attitudes  to  service  providers.   Need  to  measure  –  what  is  the  baseline?
  • Use successful & relevant national and international models that have worked (need   examples)
  • Give consumers CHOICE – restructure tariffs to offer payment choices for water. Provide   consumers choice of type of water (recycled / potable / rainwater) and type of payment   scheme.
  • Water should be ‘fit for purpose’ since not all water has to be of same high quality. This   approach will free up time and resources as well as encouraging appropriate and efficient   allocation  of  a  spectrum  of  different  water  products  between  different  end  uses.  
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  • There  is  an  opportunity  to  educate  the  next  generation  by  building  an  understanding  of  the   water  cycle  into  the  national  curriculum.  There  is  currently  nothing  about  water  in  the  national   science  curriculum.
  • By  educating  the  next  generation,  there  is  also  an  opportunity  to  improve  the  knowledge  and   skills  base  required  for  a  resilient  water  workforce  (Q7).
  • Use  current  technology  to  educate  and  engage  consumers.
  • Develop  an  APP  to  show  the  cost  to  treat  water  to  a  certain  quality  at  a  defined  point  in  time   (link  to  Q12).
  • Smart  metering  can  inform  people  which  machines  use  the  most  water.   3.6 Pricing   In  what  way  can  water  and  sewerage  access  charges  be  structured  to  be  more  'cost  reflective'  and   encourage  behaviour  change  in  consumers  and  improved  decision  making  of  service  providers?   The  issue  with  pricing  is  that  water  is  an  undervalued  resource  and  the  water  price  is  determined  by   the  cost  of  the  infrastructure.  Consumers  currently  pay  too  little  for  water  and  the  money  we  do  pay   is  typically  for  the  infrastructure  that  delivers  it  to  the  tap.   The  challenges  facing  service  providers  are  the  need  to  communicate  the  real  cost  of  water  and  to   educate  consumers  people  as  to  how  much  water  is  used  to  produce  food,  industrial  output  etc.  In   doing  so  this  would  help  people  make  informed  decisions  and  drive  innovation  and  change  (links  to   Q11).  A  good  example  of  this  was  the  response  of  consumers  to  the  drought  in  the  2000s  when  they   were  encouraged  to  reduce  their  water  consumption  substantially.   Water  service  providers  need  to  explain  their  pricing  structure.  Currently,  water  providers  charge  a   “fixed  service  charge”  +  a  small  additional  charge  for  actual  water  use.  The  fixed  charge  provides  a   guaranteed income stream for providers and goes some way towards covering the cost of built   infrastructure.  This  pricing  model  only  serves  to  reinforce  the  notion  that  water  is  of  little  value.  There   is  an  urgent  need  to  think  beyond  the  costs  incurred  in  built  infrastructure  and  recognise  the  broader   social  net  benefits  delivered  by  water-­‐related  ecosystem  services  in  sectors  as  diverse  as  tourism,  land   management,  biodiversity  conservation,  and  environmental  management.   Different  pricing  models  that  could  be  considered  in  the  30-­‐year  water  strategy  are:
  • New  infrastructure  vs.
  •  old  infrastructure  –  different  tariffs
  • Tourist  v  business  vs.  industrial  v  residential
  • Block  v  hourly  vs.  monthly  tariffs
  • Service  providers  don’t  want  to  lose  revenue  so  they  need  to  make  water  cheaper  and  more   accessible.  They  could  do  this  by  shifting  peaks  to  reduce  infrastructure  costs  but  not  reduce   overall  consumption.  However,  in  times  of  low  water  supply  water  efficiency  programmes  and   demand  management  would  need  to  be  triggered  quickly  and  effectively.   3.7 Further  ideas   Overall,  what  other  changes  need  to  occur  to  achieve  our  water  vision  in  the:  short  term  (2013-­‐14),   medium  term  (2014-­‐19)  and  Long  term  (2019-­‐42)?   Griffith  University  congratulates  the  Queensland  Government  on  having  the  foresight  to  develop  a  30-­‐ year  water  strategy  and  we  are  delighted  to  be  engaged  in  the  planning  process  and  contribute  to  its   development,  refinement  and  implementation.  
28/03/13  Griffith  University  Submission 10   What  needs  to  done  in  the  short  term  (2013  –  2014)  ?   The  30-­‐year  water  plan  must  be  developed  within  the  context  of  climate  variability.  Queensland  is   subject  to  long  (6-­‐10  years)  periods  of  below  average  rainfall  followed  by  6-­‐10  years  of  above  average   rainfall, within a longer cycle (15-­‐30 years) of wetter and drier periods. This variability must be   recognised  as  integral  to  the  30-­‐year  plan,  which  must  deal  with  the  floods  of  today  but  prepare  for   the drought of tomorrow. The competing issues are water security (drought) and water quality   (flood).   The  action  items  in  the  short  term  are:
  • Increasing  Consumer  awareness
  • Developing a National Water Education Strategy to educate and engage consumers. The   current  understanding  of  the  public  in  water  science  issues  is  very  limited  and  has  proven  to   be  a  barrier  to  changes  in  water  management,  even  where  those  were  clearly  improving  on   the  current  management.  Better  public  education  in  the  water  cycle  in  particular  is  a  long-­‐ term  investment  (starting  with  better  education  during  primary  school)  and  on  a  timescale   particularly  well  suited  to  a  30-­‐year  strategy.
  • Developing  a  Innovation  Strategy  and  a  system  to  support  it
  • Consideration  of  alternative  pricing  models   What  needs  to  done  in  the  medium  term  (2014  –  2019)  ?
  •   Restructure  the  entities  and  formalise  their  interactions.   Ensure  that  the  right  structures  and  processes  are  implemented.   Invest  in  new  technology  for  water  “supply”,  develop  new  agricultural  practises  that  reduce  water   wastage  and  preserve  the  catchment,  apply  technological  advances  to  industry,  particularly  mining   and  Coal  seam  gas  industry.  Future  development  needs  to  be  achieved  in  the  context  of  the  water,   energy,  climate  nexus.   The  action  items  in  the  medium  term  are:
  • Maintain  consumer  awareness
  • Develop  a  Climate  change  resilience  Strategy  (water-­‐energy  nexus)
  • Develop  a  streamlined  regulatory  framework  and  a  system  to  support  it
  • Consideration  of  alternative  pricing  models   What  needs  to  done  in  the  long  term  (2019  –  2042)  ?
  •   The  action  items  in  the  long  term  are:
  • Implement  plan
  • Monitor  and  evaluate  the  plan
  • Institute  a  process  of  adaptive  management
  • All  of  these  processes  are  underpinned  by  innovative  technological  change.  
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