Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
New directions for water resource management



Download PDFDownload PDF

SENATOR GARETH EVANS U.u.

9 July 1987

6.8/87

NEW DIRECTIONS EUR V&TER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Commonweal t h , State and T e r r i t o r y water resources M in is te rs today agreed to

work toward enhanced inter-governmental co-operation to provide new

d ir e c tio n s and a broader perspective on water p o lic y issues.

The i n i t i a t i v e came at a meeting in Perth of the A u s tr a lia n Water Resources

Council (AWRC), of which the M in is te r s are members.

The Chairman o f the Council, Commonwealth M in is t e r f o r Resources and Energy,

Senator Gareth Evans, said i t was Important th a t AWKC embrace a broader

'water in d u s try ' outlook in response to changing p o lic y emphases and

d i r e c t i o n s .

In an overview opening to d ay's discussions, Senator Evans said a t t e n t io n

needed to be given to the issue o f d e t e r i o r a t i o n o f e x is t in g hydraulic

■infrastru ctu re, p a r t i c u l a r l y in old er c a p i t a l ' c i t i e s and some established

i r r i g a t i o n areas.

In the urban sector 25 to 30% o f e x is t in g I n f r a s t r u c t u r e was b u i l t before

1930, and most o f these o ld e r s tru c tu re s would re q u ir e r e h a b i l i t a t i o n or

renewal over the next 30 years.

"The current estimated t o t a l cost·, o f such an operation is $12,000 m i l l i o n ,

e q u iv a le n t to a t o t a l average annual expenditure by water a u t h o r i t i e s of $400

m i l l i o n over the 30 year p e r i o d , " Senator Evans said.

"The a v a ila b le evidence suggests th a t a u t h o r i t i e s across the nation are

c u r r e n t l y devoting s i g n i f i c a n t l y less than t h is to the t a s k ."

Senator Evans said t h e need t o break w i t h t r a d i t i o n a l approaches t o water

management questioris had been brought home f o r c i b l y to him t h i s week du rin g

an In s p e c t i o n o f land s a l i n i s a t i o n problems induced by c l e a r i n g in the

south-west c o m e r o f Western A u s t r a l i a

2

" S a l i n i t y repre sen ts one of the n a t i o n ' s g r e a t e s t environmental problems, and

one t h a t r e q u ir e s a concerted i riter-governmental e f f o r t i f i t i s to be

p r o p e r l y addressed," he s a id .

"The complex s a l i n i t y and land deg ra d at io n problems in the M u r r a y - D a r li n g

Basin, f o r example, are es ti m a t e d t o cost $110 m i l l i o n a y e a r in l o s t primary

p ro d u ct io n .

"The need f o r i n t e g r a t e d catchment management t o combat s a l i n i t y , r a is e d by

th e Couth A u s tra l ion M in is t e r , Dr Don Hopgood, was one o f t h e key t o p i c s on

t o d a y ' s agenda, and M i n i s t e r s agreed on the need f o r a major n a t io n a l e f f o r t

t o promote t h i s s t r a t e g y .

Other impo rt ant conclusions t o emerge from t o d a y ' s d is cus sio n o f keynote

papers presented by S t a t e M i n i s t e r s inc lu d ed :

• M i n i s t ers agreed t h a t o p p o r t u n i t i e s were a v a i l a b l e to minimise the r e a l

cost o f water s e r v ic e s through Improved f i n a n c i a l management and use o f

modern technology - issues exp lo re d in a keynote paper by V i c t o r i a n

M i n i s t e r , Mr Andrew McCutcheon. ·

• M i n i s t e r s endorsed t h e p r i n c i p l e t h a t a l l r u r a l communities should have

access t o r e l i a b l e w at er s u p p li e s o f s a t i s f a c t o r y q u a l i t y f o r domestic

purposes, as embodied i n t h e Rural Water S t r a t e g y developed by the

Western A u s t r a l i a n M in is t e r - , Mr E r n i e B rid ge.

, M i n i s t e r s endorsed the p re ss in g need f o r e f f i c i e n t and c o s t - e f f e c t i v e

management o f the n a t i o n ' s wa ter resources 1n the i n t e r e s t s of

co n s e rv a t io n and s o c ia l e q u i t y

- as h i g h l i g h t e d in papers presented by Western A u s t r a l i a n M i n i s t e r , Mr

E rn ie B ri d g e, in r e l a t i o n t o r u r a l wa ter sup pli es and on b e h a l f o f Mr

M a r t i n Tenni (Q ueensland), concerning t h e management of the Great

A r t e s i a n Basin.

M i n i s t ers ackn owledged the r e le v a n c e o f commercial1s a t io n in the sense o f

p u r s u i n g sound com mercial o p e r a t i n g p r a c t i c e

3

"A c l e a r message emerged from to d a y 's d e l i b e r a t i o n s and t h i s is t h a t the

complex challenges of the 1990$ would only be res olved through the f u l l ,

c o - o p e r a t io n of Governments and a l l sectors o f the wa ter i n d u s t r y , "

Senator Evans s a id . !

A copy of the communique issued a f t e r the meeting 1s at tac h ed .

PERTH

[ ^ C O M M O N W E A L PARLIAMENTARY LI I C. I. s.

TWENTY-NINTH MEL 11NG OF THE AUSTRALIAN WATER RESOURCES COUNCIL, 9 JULY 1987

The A u s t r a l i a n Water Resources Council met in Perth today to consider a

number o f s i g n i f i c a n t i n i t i a t i v e s .

The M i n i s t e r i a l Council comprises M i n i s t e r s from the Commonwealth, S ta te s and

the Northern T e r r i t o r y w it h primary r e s p o n s i b i 1 i t y f o r wa ter resources

management.

Today's meeting was ch ai re d by the Commonwealth M i n i s t e r f o r Resources and

Energ y, Senator Gareth Evans, and was hosted by the Western A u s t r a l i a n

M i n i s t e r f o r Water Resources, the Hon E rn ie Brid ge. A f u l l l i s t o f M i n i s t e r s

who attended the meeting 1s a t Attachment 1.

MAJOR POLICY ISSUES

Council considered a Major P o l i c y Issues paper i d e n t i f y i n g emerging p o l i c y

d i r e c t i o n s f o r t h e water s e c t o r . M i n i s t e r s endorsed the themes developed in

the paper - in p a r t i c u l a r , the view t h a t resource management p o l i c i e s ,

economic and f i n a n c i a l management p o l i c i e s , w at er technology p o l i c i e s and

management and t r a i n i n g should be areas o f p r i o r i t y concern.

INTER-AGENCY COMPARISONS

In the l i g h t o f the in c r e a s in g r o l e o f change 1n the management of

A u s t r a l i a ' s wa ter resources Council has recognised the need f o r mechanisms to

improve the f i n a n c i a l management o f wa ter a u t h o r i t i e s . Council endorsed a

c o l l a b o r a t i v e e f f o r t to develop broad performance i n d i c a t o r s f o r t h e t h r e e

main elements o f t h e wa ter s ec to r ( m e t r o p o l i t a n water and sewerage,

n o n - m e t r o p o li t a n water and sewerage, and i r r i g a t i o n and d r a i n a g e ) .

2

C O M M E R C I A L I S A T I O N

Council observed t h a t in recent years the wa ter in d u s t r y has been under

pressure to achieve g r e a t e r e f f i c i e n c y and f i n a n c i a l s e l f - r e l i a n c e . In

response th e r e have been strong moves, p a r t i c u l a r l y in the m e t r o p o l i t a n water

a u t h o r i t i e s , towards a more commercial approach i n v o l v i n g close c o n s id e r a t io n

o f such issues as demand a n a l y s i s , marketing s t r a t e g i e s , supply e f f i c i e n c y ,

p r i c i n g p o l i c i e s and investment requ irem ents.

M i n i s t e r s endorsed and encouraged such c o m m e r c ia li s a tio n o f water agencies

and supported g r e a t e r e f f o r t s by wa ter agencies in i d e n t i f y i n g and planning

f o r i t s impact on human and f i n a n c i a l resources and as s e ts .

INTEGRATED CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT

Council recognises the importance o f i n t e r - r e l a t e d land and w at er management

in m a i n t a i n i n g and improving the s t a t e o f A u s t r a l i a n r i v e r s . I t was noted

t h a t i n order t o m a in t a in momentum governments w i l l need to con tinue to

promote d ia lo gue and c o - o p e r a t i o n between ag encies, i n d u s t r y and the

community on i n t e g r a t e d catchment management concepts. In p a r t i c u l a r i t may

be necessary f o r governments to make a p a r t i c u l a r e f f o r t in a l l o c a t i n g

resources to s e l e c t e d i n t e g r a t e d management p r o j e c t s .

M i n i s t e r s gave str ong endorsement to an AWRC sponsored n a t i o n a l workshop on

i n t e g r a t e d catchment management planned f o r May 1988.

EXTENDING RURAL WATER SUPPLIES

Council discussed the problems o f r u r a l communities in p r o v id in g water

s u p p li e s and endorsed the p r i n c i p l e t h a t a l l r u r a l communities should have

access to r e l i a b l e water s u p plie s o f s a t i s f a c t o r y q u a l i t y f o r domestic

purposes. Council als o agreed to support a proposed workshop in c o n ju n c tio n

w i t h the Country Towns Water Supply Improvement Program w it h the alms of

c o n s id e r in g the p o s s i b i l i t y o f developing

. te c h n o lo g ie s a p p r o p r i a t e to the needs o f r u r a l communities

s u p p l y c r i t e r i a i n l i n e w i t h i n t e n d e d use and c i r c u m s t a n c e

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY C. I. S.

4

Council agreed t h a t i t s Planning Committee should m a in tai n a watching b r i e f

on the i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r w a t e r resources management of po ss ib le c l i m a t i c

change.

LOW COST SEWERAGE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR SMALL TOWNS

The a f f o r d a b i 1i t y of sewerage s e rv ic e s to small country towns is of growing

concern to Council p a r t i c u l a r l y w it h regard to

. r e l a t i v e l y high c a p i t a l costs f o r small schemes

. low r a t i n g a b i l i t y o f most small towns

. d e c l i n i n g economic v i a b i l i t y o f many small towns.

In t h i s co n te xt Council endorsed the p r e p a r a t i o n o f a s t a t e o f the a r t r e p o r t

on a l t e r n a t i v e e f f l u e n t disposal systems a p p l i c a b l e t o small communities.

This r e p o r t would serve as an inp u t t o a seminar on the water s e r v i c i n g needs

o f small com m unities.

MINISTERIAL COUNCIL: FUTURE DIRECTIONS ·

In t h e past Council has focussed i t s work program on wa ter issues ou tsi de

major urban c e n t r e s .

With t h e change in emphasis i n w at er m at t e rs in A u s t r a l i a from one o f

re so u rce development t o resource management and t h e growing importance of

urban wa ter issues g e n e r a l l y , the concerns o f t h e AWRC are i n c r e a s i n g l y

t u r n i n g t o i n d u s t r y - w i d e issues such as p r i c i n g and f i n a n c i a l p o l i c i e s ,

reso urc e management, technology and o r g a n i s a t i o n a l management and s t r a t e g y .

As t h e on ly M i n i s t e r i a l Council concerned w i t h n a t i o n a l water i n d u s t ry

is s u e s , Council considered i t a p p r o p r i a t e f o r t h e AWRC to continue t o develop

i t s focus on in d u s t r y wide p o l i c y q u e s t io n s . I n h e r e n t l y t h i s means more

i n t e r e s t in t h e concerns of the major urban a u t h o r i t i e s .

M i n i s t e r s agreed t h a t the es tab lis h me n t of the AWRC as the peak forum f o r the

water in d u s t r y should be progressed to a po in t where at i t s next meeting the

agenda would comprise issues o f common concern encompassing both geneial

resource development and management and major urban water a u t h o r i t y issues.

At t h a t meeting, Council would also formal 1se i t s ongoing r e l a t i o n s h i p in the

l i g h t of a r e p o r t by Standing Committee on the most e f f e c t i v e means of

b r in g in g about a p p r o p r ia t e c o - o r d i n a t i o n .

HYDROGEOLOGICAL MAP OF AUSTRALIA .

During the meet ing , Senator Evans announced the r e le a s e o f an important new

Hydrogeological Map o f A u s t r a l i a showing f e a t u r e s o f A u s t r a l i a ' s groundwater

resources.

The map had been compiled by t h e Commonwealth Bureau o f Mineral Resources as

p a r t o f the AWRC Review of A u s t r a l i a ' s water resources p r o j e c t .

DATE AND VENUE OF NEXT MEETING

The next meeting o f the A u s t r a l i a n Water Resources Council w i l l be held in

Queensland in J u l y 1988. '

ATTACHMENT 1

MINISTERS ATTENDING

COMMONWEALTH

Senator the Hon Gareth Evans, QC (Chairman)

NEW SOUTH WALES

The Hon Janice C ro sio , MBE, MP

M i n i s t e r f o r Water Resources

VICTORIA

The Hon Andrew McCutcheon, MP

M i n i s t e r f o r Water Resources

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The Hon (D r) Don Hopgood, MP

D epu ty P re m ie r and M in is t e r o f W ater Resources

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

The Hon E r n ie B rid g e, JP, MP

M i n i s t e r f o r Water Resources

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY C. I. s.