With NSW still feeling the effects of the worst drought on record, there has never been a more critical time for effective water management, a statewide conference of council and government leaders heard last week.
Almost 160 people – including NSW and interstate council, State Government and university representatives – attended last week’s annual Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Water Management Conference, which was held online due to COVID-19.
LGNSW President Linda Scott said water security and management continued to be a critical topic for councils, especially those serving the 2 million people living in regional and rural NSW.
“Water is the lifeblood of regional NSW and it is important everyone living in those areas has the best possible access to water services,” Cr Scott said.
“Councils work hard to get the most out of their local water infrastructure and ensure the best strategic use of this precious commodity.
“The conference has been a great opportunity for industry practitioners to listen to and collaborate with experts in the field, as well as the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) across a wide range of water management issues.
“The timing is excellent as it comes as councils across NSW deal with one of the worst droughts on record. People have had the opportunity to share the experiences and lessons learned so far that will be an invaluable help for local governments going ahead.”
Cr Scott said the two-day event also provided an opportunity to hear from industry leaders and conference sponsors about some of the latest solutions on offer to help water practitioners improve the sustainability of their operations.
Expert speakers spoke about managing water assets in drought and crises, such as last summer’s bushfires, recycled water options, managing urban water risks and building water resilience in regional communities.
“One of the highlights was insights from indigenous community representatives on water management, as well as some of the unique needs facing Aboriginal communities in remote areas,” Cr Scott said.
“Overall, this conference proved once again the thoughtful and serious approach local government is taking towards water security and management.
“There is always room for improvement, as the NSW Auditor General’s report on the State’s water infrastructure pointed out, but I am confident Government is listening to those concerns and acting on them.
“LGNSW is continuing to advocate on behalf of regional councils that manage local water utilities for a strategic approach and greater investment in infrastructure to protect water resources.
“We hope that conference attendees will leave the conference with a reinforced understanding of what the key issues affecting the sector are, will be better equipped to improve their practice and ensure the sustainable and secure supply of water for our communities and industry.”