Integrated Water Cycle Management and its importance
Suppliers of water services not only have to make sure that water comes out the tap and the toilets flush, they must also consider the social, economic and political aspects that relate to the water cycle. Effective water management is a huge contributor to the health and well-being of the community, the liveability of towns and cities and securing the future prosperity of the region. The water cycle is intrinsically linked with aquatic and urban environments and these must also be considered when planning for effective water management. Integrated water cycle management (IWCM) takes a holistic approach to making the most of every opportunity to drive efficiency, reduce costs and make the most of every drop of water available.
QLD, Victoria and NSW have established frameworks for IWCM, however it is not just about ticking the box and satisfying the regulator. IWCM allows organisations to understand their current position and define where they want to be in the future. IWC planning recognises that all elements of the water cycle are interdependent water, sewerage and stormwater are considered as a single system and a decision made in one part of the water cycle impacts other parts of the cycle.
IWCM is not only about looking technology and infrastructure, but also requires input about social, institutional and political arrangements and expectations.
Planning an IWCM Strategy provides an opportunity to understand and consider:
the expectations of the community
current services provided and potential services for the future
the current standards of service and goals for standards of service.
alternative sources, diversification and water security
reducing environmental impacts and improving environmental performance
keeping costs down and finding cost effective solutions
future land development goals
IWCM uses real data to contextualise all of the contributing factors and integrate infrastructure and land use planning. A considered approach to IWCM drives continuous improvement and provides a roadmap for where the community wants to be in relation to its water resources. This is another example where having good data is so valuable to the development of good strategy. A relatively small investment in data collection, handling and reporting can yield huge benefits where it is carefully considered in strategy development.
Many of the sessions presented at Ozwater 2018 demonstrated that the water industry, as a whole, is committed to continuous improvement, however we must continue to promote an integrated approach to water planning, within organisations that provide water services, to ensure water security and the liveability of our towns and cities.