Water Journal January - February 1996

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Volume 23, No 1 January/February 1996 Librarians: please note that with a shift in publication date, there were only five issues in Volume 22


Editorial Board F R Bishop, Chairman


From the Federal President From the Executive Director

Advertising & Administration


The Future of Public Involvement

Geoff Syme

FEATURE - PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT Community Ownership and Conflici: Resolution in Planning


M Dugdale The Consumer's Perspective


J Simpson Sydney's Choices Consultation


N Roseth Community Education Program: Seven Steps


R JiVhately Community Education: Grass Roots


A Colliver Wastewater 2040 Revisited


G V Harris, EJ Murphy, B S Sanders

WATER Second Boot Plant Commissioned: Macarthur


EA Swinton Water Consumption Down 30% at Stringybark Grove

AWWA Federal Office Editorial: Helen Cumming Advertising: Sandra Brennan PO Box 388 Artarmon NSW 2064 Level 2, 44 Hampden Road, Artannon Tel (02} 413 1288 Fax (02} 41 3 1047

Features Editor EA (Bob} Swinton 4 Pleasant View Cres, Glen Waverly Vic 3150

Tel/Fax (03} 9560 4752


S Love Communicating with Customers: Research Techniques

B N Anderson, G Cawston, M R Chapman P Draayers, W J Dulfer, G A Holder M Muntisov, P Nadebaum,J D Parker AJ Priestley,] Rissman


Branch Correspondents ACT - Ian Bergman Tel (06} 248 3133 Fax (06} 276 1997 New South Wales - Mitchell Laginestra Tel ¡(02} 412 9974 Fax (02} 412 9876 Northern Territory - Graeme Reed Tel (089} 82 7346 Fax (089) 82 7221 Queensland - Ted Cusack Tel (07) 3831 7316 Fax (07} 3832 1625 South Australia - Peter Martin Tel (08} 303 8723 Fax (08} 303 8750 Tasmania - Dao Norath Tel (002} 332 596 Fax (002} 347 559 Victoria - Mike Muntisov Tel (03) 600 1100 Fax (03) 600 1300 Westem Australia - Alan Maus Tel (09} 420 2465 Fax (09} 420 3178

HCumming WATER (ISSN 0310 - 0367)

WASTEWATER Management of Wastewater in Small Coastal Communities: Crisis or Opportunity?


Australian Water & Wastewater Inc

SK Twartz, M Wood

ENVIRONMENT Environmental Monitoring Problems with Stream Sampling

ARBN 054 253 066


M]Lichon 34


WATER INDEX 1993 - 1995


DEPARTMENTS International Affiliates From the Bottom of the Well Meetings

Federal President Mark Pascoe

Executive Director Chris Davis

BUSINESS Water Trading in Victoria: Possible Controls

is published six times per year January, March, May,July, September, November by

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Tiu Macarthur water treatment plant viewed from the top of one of the clearwater tanks. Tiu plant is operated by North West Water Australia Pty Ltd and supplies 265 ML/d of treated water to Sydnt') Water. As described in the article on page 22, this plant is the second BOOT plant commissioned in Australia, the first being the Yan Yean plant, contracted to Melbourne Water. Other BOOT plants are in construction in NSW Tiu project, including raw water lift system, treatment plant and delivery pipeline, was built by NWT Water Pty Ltd, jointly owned by North West Water Australia and TransfielJ.. TransfalJ. Constructions Pty Ltd won the 1995 Excellence in Construction Award from the Master BuilJ.ers Association (NSW), in the Civil Engineering Open Price category.

Australian Water & Wastewater Association assumes no responsibility for opinions or statements of facts expressed by contributors or advertisers and editorials do not necessarily represent the official policy of the organisation. Display and classified advertisements are included as an informational service to readers and are reviewed by the Editor before publication to ensure their relevance to the water environment and to the objectives of the Association. All material in Water is copyright and should not be reproduced wholly or in part without the written permission of the Editor.

Subscriptions Water is sent to all members of the AWWA as one of the privileges of membership. Non members can obtain Water on subscription at an annual subscription rate of $35 (surface mail}.


COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN PLANNING M Dugdale* Introduction Over the last twenty years, water agencies have become experienced in using co mmunity consultation to inform and enhance their decision-making. But the political, social and environmental climate is changing, bringing a new demand which goes beyond the imperatives of good decision-making: the demand to move from consultation to participatory planning. The changes that make this necessary are : • the community (partly through the educational process that has taken place with consultation) is more informed about our water resources and wants more say in how they are managed • governments are asking communities to take more financial and management responsibility for natural resources • change in individual, municipal and industry practice is becoming urgent to protect and, in some situations reverse degradation of our catchments and waterways • the supply of water is becoming less secure • increased competition for use of a diminishing resource is causing conflict within communities. The outcomes required of consultation are now more complex. They demand a process that reflects this complexity and increases the participatory role of the community. The water agency (or the consultant representing the agency) must therefore develop a process that will facilitate: • community ownership of, or partnership in, any plan or policy • resolution of conflict within the community.

Ownership and Joint Responsibility 'What are needed are ways of forming and maintaining relationships in which the relevant stakeholders have an opportunity to be informed and involved in ways which reinforce joint resflonsibility.' (Shulman and Martinek, 1994) In the past, the emphasis has been on the process, the steps of consultation. This has led to a focus on the mechanics rather than the building of relationships that foster participation, an organic rather than 8

mechanistic concept. It is through this relationship that change takes place and conflict is resolved. The role of the agency is to provide the resources to develop an open, transparent and flexible process, tailored and responsive to the community's needs and characteristics. It involves the community throughout the whole planning process from issue identification, strategic planning, action planning and allocation of responsibilities and resources. It is in fact a process of involving the community in planning, a move from consultation to participative planning. Nowadays we often find communities that are tired of 'being consulted'. Many communities have been over consulted or are consultation weary. We hear expressions like, 'not another talk fest' or, 'don't give us more butchers' paper!' In some cases they believe that the consultation was token or irrelevant to decision making. Both the talking and the butchers' paper are acceptable if the community can see that the outcomes of their involvement are action plans that are linked to the priorities that have been identified through the participation process. These action plans may be major public works funded through government budgets, specific levies or changes in land management practices, community action plans, land care activities or education programs. The community needs to see that they will be involved in the planning process right through to implementation: action on the ground. Recently, in a major urban strategic plan, the authority involved the community very effectively in the identification of issues. They then went on to the solution generation stage with staff alone, bringing the community back into the process again only to have them respond to the, by then, glossy and well bound, draft plan. They were surprised when they received so much negative reaction. At the other end of the picture, a community water resource committee with no prior consultation, drew up a new allocation system for the valley's ground water that was becoming unsustainable. On the release of the new proposals, a small group were vehemently and vocally opposed to the policy. As far as they were concerned, their needs had not been

heard, regarded or considered. The committee had to begin again. Developing the process involves more than a scoping study or arranging a mechanism for community meetings. Not only do stakeholders want to contribute their ideas and knowledge to the planning outcomes, they must have the opportunity to influence how they are to participate, to have a say in the methodology, to take part in designing the process by which they will contribute. Any community or group of stakeholders is as unique as any river system, with its own natural boundaries, social systems and cultural patterns and acceptable ways of doing things. Time is required to develop a relationship, a period of working in the community that: • legitimises the participation • builds trust within the affected communities • demystifies the planning process • clarifies planning objectives • seeks ideas for effective way of involving the public • provides easily understood background information to the issue • elicits local knowledge and understanding of issues • ensures broad representation and • establishes agreement on the way in which participation will happen. In short, it engages the community. It is important to identify pre-existing community networks and resources that can be used to further participation rather than creating or laying a whole new superstructure on the community. Even small encroachments of this practice can have negative impacts. For example, in nearly all situations, information has to be distributed. Recently, while discussing with members of a community the possibility of writing a newsletter, hands went up in horror, 'NO, not another publication!' It turned out that there were several well established publications that could carry the information and which had very broad distribution. To have' started another specific to this project would have put the community off-side. Key community people can help contact minority, or for 'Environment and Social Planning, 2/8 Lower Spofforth Walk, Cremome 2090


that matter, majority silent groups and identify special needs to be addressed to ensure broad and active participation. Managing relationships is the · skill. Understanding the process by which people in the community can best contribute and modifying it when necessary for maximum benefit to the community and the planning objectives. Clear, accessible information is paramount to creating the relationship and in creating successful dialogue. Stakeholders can only participate in so far as they are informed. Several kinds of information are required. Firstly, process information explains how people can contribute to the planning process, and importantly the limits or guidelines within which these objectives must be achieved. The objectives might be quantitative, such as reduction · in groundwater use, attaining water quality objectives, reduction in irrigation allocations. Limits and known guidelines may be financial, geographic or legislative. Secondly, content information provides the necessary background to the water and natural resource issues. It must be easily accessible; written in non jargon language and brief. It can be followed up with more detailed information on request. Background information should pose questions, broaden people's perspective of a problem, stimulate thoughts and discussion and clearly indicate that solutions have not already been found. (Dugdale and West, 1991) Thirdly, stakeholders need opportunities for ongoing dialogue with expert opinion from the agency planners and appropriate specialists. This may mean that they are available at community discussion meetings or available to answer question by phone. This source of information offers clarification and may prevent the community from going down the wrong, misinformed track.

Conflict Resolution Change and the development of acceptable new policy and plans frequently involves conflict within the community. These may be about competing use for the resource, with implications for local industry and employment, conflicts based on misunderstandings and lack of information, or conflict embedded in long held values about the way things should be done. In an effort to resolve these conflicts some consultations call for submissions or call for comment, but don't bring the conflicting parties together. An agency that has taken this route has probably collected a mountain of data and very detailed statistics, but it has neither consulted the stakeholders nor drawn them into the participatory process. The agency may fear and/or be overwhelmed by this conflict and feel obliged to make a difficult WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

decision on behalf of the community. This robs the community of its right to ownership of both the issues and the eventual plan. The resulting decision can leave the community more divided and hostile than before. We see a classic example of this sort of consultation between the Federal Government Forest Industry and conservationists over logging rights. What the government has called consultation is really a bidding war between lobbyists. Such competitive processes perpetrate the view that the solution of conflict can only be of the type that is imposed by one side on the other by superior force , deception or cleverness. (Hancey, 1985) The more difficult the conflict, the greater the need for community and agency to move towards a position of joint responsibility and to aim for genuine dialogue. That conflict may not be open hostility but a misunderstanding of stakeholders' different needs. A poorly conducted community consultation and a decision made without addressing the need, will divide the community and fail to provide a plan that can be implemented. Even in situations of apparently intransigent conflict, the conflict may be resolved by understanding need and finding alternatives to meet it. Even if the conflict is not resolved, the painstaking clarification of issues and commitments provide a better chance for understanding; at least the parties will understand the different perspectives and be more ready to accept a final decision. (Burton and Dukes, 1990) There is no doubt that there are many occasions when it is appropriate for government to make decisions on behalf of a community, but not when they are claiming to consult the community in a manner that assumes community acceptance of policy. Effective participation and any resolution of conflict, require an environment that is safe and conducive to the open expression of needs and concerns. This trust is developed during the early period(which might be called the networking period) when the conflicting stakeholders are assured of: • the neutrality of the facilitator • enough time • an iterative and extensive process in which to express the conflict, clarify need and explore options. This approach is appropriate for two conflicting parties or where there are a number of disparate groups amongst the stakeholders. Given time, access to good information, an opportunity to interact at all stages of the process, individual contributions emerge and evolve together, allowing stakeholders to find common ground and understand differences. Often these parties have not had this opportunity and are surprised to discover the . degree of common ground. During

the review of land management planning of the Mt Lofty Ranges, farmers and conservationists discovered that they had similar goals for the region but they had for years been burdened with negative preconceptions about each other. Conflicting groups in the Northern Rivers of NSW strategic planning had encounted each other only through attacks in local newspapers and hostile exchanges across boundary fences. They were surprised that, given the right environment, they could talk to each other and share ideas and opinions constructively. More important they could agree on a common goal: the sustainability of tlieir local river. The first role of the facilitator was to provide those who were affected with information and tools of analysis and the means to question and think. The second stage is to lead stakeholders to generate solutions: to accurately define the interests that are negotiable and basic needs and values that are not and help them to discover mutually acceptable options. 'The primary activity is analysis: a searching exchange between the conflicting groups designed to reveal positions, frustrations, constraints and perceptions.' (Burton, 1990) Water agencies have a major advantage in the business of fostering community involvement in water resource planning and management. Stakeholders can see the inevitable consequences of not reaching agreements, of not protecting the quality and sustainability of our resources. Not to participate, is to risk losing the resource.

References Burton J, Dukes F (1990) 'Conflict: Practices in Management, Settlement and Resolution' Conflict Series, St Martins Press, New York. Burton J (1990) 'Conflict, Resolution and Prevention', Conflict Series, St Martins Press, New York. Dugdale M, West S (1991) 'Public Participation in Natural Resource Planning and Management', International Hydrology & Water Resources Symposium, Perth. Hancey J R.(1985) 'Objectives of Public Participation', Public Involvement Techniques: US Army Corps of Engineers, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. Shulman A, Martinek T (1994) 'Managing Institutional Collaboration in Catchment Systems Research', CSIRO Drylands Catchment Management Conference, Canberra.

Author Margaret Dugdale is Principal of Margaret Dugdal,e, Environmental and Social Planning, Sydney. She graduated in Social Science from Sydney, then Environmental Studies at Adelaide. She wqs posted to UK with the Department of Foreign Affairs and has taught at the University of South Australia. In 1986 she established her own business and has provided input for strategic planning projects for governments and the MDBC. 9


THE CONSUMER'S PERSPECTIVE j Simpson* I first became concerned about the management of our water some three years ago when the valley in which I lived was threatened by a dam. I investigated and discovered that our urban water cycle was a straight line from dams to waste disposal and pollution. I joined the Sunshine Coast Environment Council and became their Project Officer for Water Management issues, and also joined AWWA. I am presently -the Chair of the Qµeensland Branch's Community Education and Wastewater Re-use Committee. I am one of those who have been 'involved' in many projects. The most recent has been the Noosa re-use community consultation, in which the community's anxiety about discharge to the sea was translated into almost a majority vote for direct re-use. In the outcome, the decision is to proceed with full treatment including nutrient removal. Over the years the experiences we have had of such 'public involvement' have been varied but most of them have turned out to be unsatisfactory, frustrating encounters. The public has become rather cynical and negative - but also a lot wiser. Here are some observations and some suggestions from my - our - point of view to help improve the situation. • Frequently we, the community, don't understand why we are being involved. Often it becomes evident that the consulters don't know either. We can smell a 'snow job' from a mile off, so attempts to persuade us to concur with a decision that has already been made creates hostility in the community from the very outset. The consulters must be very clear in their own minds what role the community is to have and make sure we understand too. We will respond more positively if we know why we are being involved and what part we have to play. • The most frequent criticism of public involvement is that it starts too late in the decision-making process. If the path that you would like us to follow is clearly taking us to a better future, why not lead us logically from the starting point? • It is important to identify all options; include even those which seem far-fetched and also the option of doing nothing. If the reasons for rejecting some of the options are clear and correct, we will agree. • All too often we are asked for our views on something we don't understand. Our involvement is limited to collective sharing of ignorance. Matters relating to 10

wastewater management are particularly prone to this problem. There seems to be little point in further consultation on these matters without an education program all you will find out is what we already know - we don't know! With wastewater issues we are starting from a position of almost total ignorance so the education program should be the major part of the process. In order to have an informed opinion people must be informed; the more they are informed, the wider range of options they are able to accept. Ample funding must be available for the education program and if the leading stakeholders are being asked to become involved in it, they must be funded too. • Consultation must be more than writing down what we say, typing it up and then telling us what we said. Identifying the community's perceptions should not be the goal of the exercise. Decisions based on illogical perceptions are unlikely to lead to a sustainable future. • The object of the exercise is to change community values. The learning process works two ways; the consulters must be willing to learn and change too. • The process should be looking at the whole water cycle, not just a part of it and it should be focused on long-term goals. If the time frame is long, the process is less threatening and less likely to be influenced by immediate political factors. • It is wise to establish trust. Questionable data will put the whole project in jeop-

ardy, as will making basic assumptions about fundamental principles which cannot be substantiated. • Information must be free and freely available. It must also be understandable. In communications use the active voice and short sentences. Avoid acronyms sometimes we feel we are swimming in alphabet soup. • The decision-makers must be identified and preferably take an active part in the process. Feedback is very important. We may not find the decisions very palatable but if they are logical and looking at long-term benefits, we will be able to accept them. The outcome that we are trying to achieve should be rational decisions on the future management of water which are open and transparent and reflect the desires of an informed wider community.

Author Jenifer Simpson gained her degree in Chemistry from Birmingham, and has roamed the world ever since. She is an expert on donkey training, which she :rays is ofgreat help in dealing with governments. She has recently co-authored a 20 page booklet entitled 'Hey! Slow Down! I Want to Look That Word Up!' which explains the jargon used in the water industry in terms understandable by a 'layman'. (Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, Gympie, 4570) • 9 Meher Road, Woombye 4559.

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SYDNEY' S CHOICES CONSULTATION S Love* Summary Sydney Water Corporation has developed its consultation processes with both customers and stakeholders to assist the planning process. Following on four years of data collection for the Clean Waterways Program, a discussion paper, Choices for Clean Waterways, was launched in March 1994. This paper outlines the various meth. ods used to involve both individuals groups and major stakeholders in the dis'. cussions. A major component in Choices is the Sydney Water Project, in which four peak environment groups were funded, and assisted by access to all information, to provide independent advice on nine significant issues. This has culminated in a series of recommendations, most of which have been accepted by Sydney Water, though some require further discusssion.

Introduction Sydney Water provides water and wastewater services for a population of 3.7 million people. lnjanuary 1995, the then Water Board became Sydney Water Corporation Limited, a company fully owned by the people of New South Wales with financial performance regulated through the Statement of Corporate Intent agreed by the Board of Directors with the shareholders. Prices are regulated_ by the NSW Government Pricing Tnbunal and operational and customer service standards set out in our operating licence. Community expectations are high. Customers and stakeholders are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their activities and demands on organisations generally, especially one which has the high profile of Sydney Water. Our market research (Roseth, this issue) shows us that our customers are satisfied with our performance, but we want to build on that. 1!'_e want to ensure that our planning decmons are made with a clear knowledge of what our customers and stakeholders want. We know that only a relatively few people take the time, or are interested, in taking part in consultation with us. Our consultation strategies work hand in hand with our market research program, thereby providing us with a picture of what the community understands about us, their needs {both now and in the future}, and the way they see our impact WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

on the environment. Consultation attracts mainly our key stakeholders, those interested enough to take part, while market research provides us with the opinions of our 'silent majority'. Using both market research and consultation, we hope to build a partnership with our community based on understanding their needs and factoring them into our planning process.

The Choices Process Sydney Water has come a long way since the start of the Clean Waterways Program in 1990. At that time, pollution on Sydney's beaches led to thousands of ordinary people protesting and demanding solutions. Simply put, the Clean Waterways Program was set up to bring about some quick environmental improvements, monitoring to establish our impact on the environment and to plan a long-term wastewater strategy with input from our community. Now, five years later, we have progressed on all counts. Armed with relevant data from environmental monitoring, we published a discussion document, Choices for Clean Waterways, in March 1994. This was the starting point of our consultation process for a long-term wastewater strategy and built on earlier work we had done with our community under the Clean Waterways Program. It included: holding public meetings to agree on issues and set targets; establish~ng community advisory groups; developmg local newsletters and holding workshops to discuss upgrades of major sewage treatment plants. Choices discussed various options for the future management of the wastewater system and invited comment. That comment was obtained through a tear-out questionnaire and through submissions sent to us by key stakeholders. In order to satisfy all target markets, a summary brochure was also produced. To extend the marketing of the document we produced a nine minute video and a full-colour display. Choices Update is our newsletter which keeps participants informed on consultation activities. The Choices consultation process was targeted at Sydney Water's major stakeholders following a workshop on public involvement sponsored by Sydney Water in April 1994. Stuart Langton and Larry Aggens, senior members of the International Association of Public Participation Practioners (IAP3} were vis-

iting CSIRO from the United States and while in Sydney outlined their Community Corral template. This segments the target audience by looking at various kinds of 'publics', and defines·them in terms of the interest and time given to the activity within six categories. The categories can be seen as 'orbits' of activity around a nucleus, which is the decision-making process. The closer the orbit of activity is to the decision-making centre, the greater the opportunity for influencing the decision. This methodology and the available tools discussed at the workshop were adopted as the basis for Choices. In deciding on a targeted approach, we wanted to ensure that we received submissions from key players, and we wanted to give other community groups and individuals the opportunity to participate in the consultation process.

Advertising Choices In order to announce our discussion document, we dev.ised a newspaper advertising campaign. The advertising campaign was run in two stages; stage one, to let people know that the consultation process was happening and the date for their comments, and stage two, to remind people that the cut off date for comments was approaching. The advertisement encouraged people to obtain a copy of Choices and to register for the consultation process. The advertisements ran in the major Sydney metropolitan and selected suburban newspapers for two weeks. This provided the following benefits : • it allowed us to update our existing data base and get the audience for Choices right • it showed the community that the consultation process was open and that we were committed to it • it increased our chances of building an audience of the interested community so that single-interest stakeholders would not capture the process • it let people know that Sydney Water was consulting with customers • it helped us avoid sending information to people who were not interested in the process. The thrust of this stage of the consultation process was to raise the debate within the interested community and to receive initial comment on the options discussed in Choices. 'Sydney Water, PO Box A53, Sydney South, 2000


A Phased Approach We devised a five-phase process for consultation. The phased approach was along the lines of the template developed by Aggens and Langton, 'we wonder, we think, we believe , we propose'. As well, the consultation process was based on the strategies of both ACT Electricity and Water and the Water Authority of Western Australia. It was a step by step approach to enable the community to understand and absorb the issues and options. The five phases of Choices are: Phase one: to raise the issues with the launch of the discussion document. We did presentations to key stakeholders and sent out an update newsletter to keep participants informed of the process. Phase two: to collect the comment and to analyse it. We also held focus groups with customers in order to test the · issues with a broader cross section of the community, ie. those not included in the 'interested' Choices audience. This early comment was passed on to our wastewater planners to shape their strategy. Phase three: to hold further presentations, eg. the 'decentralisation' workshop, in order to refine and explore 'popular' solutions. We had our analyses validated by an specialist in social research because it was qualitative data and by nature difficult to demonstrate objectivity. Based on these analyses, we refined our options. Phase four: to refine the wastewater strategy on the basis of knowledge about system performance, environmental impact, stakeholder views and discussion with shareholders and regulators. (This is the stage reached as this paper is written). Phase five: the release of the wastewater strategy and further discussions with our regulators such as the EPA and the Pricing Tribunal. The phased process was developed so that it could be adaptable. We have shortened some phases and lengthened others. We have dropped off some items and added others so that the process would satisfy our needs and our community's needs. Flexibility is essential in managing a consultation strategy, especially if it is has a long-term horizon.

Our Data Base When Choices consultation commenced in March 1994, we had about 3,000 groups and individuals on our data base. These people had been receiving newsletters and information on the Clean Waterways Program, or had expressed interest in the program. Throughout the consultation process we have added 2,500 names to the data base. We distributed about 2,000 Choices documents during the first few months of the consultation process, and still receive requests for them. In total, 8,000 discussion documents have been disseminated, 12

both within Sydney Water, to customers and stakeholders, and to other interested organisations. We received 160 questionnaires and 70 submissions fr.om stakeholders following the launch of the discussion document. Another discussion document focusing on the sewage overflows component of the wastewater system was published in March 1995. Following a six week comment period, we received 30 submissions and 271 questionnaires from stakeholders. Our data base lists contact details of people and groups who have responded to our consultation process, as well as information on their key interests, further contacts with them and what discussion documents they have requested.

Market Research A market research consultancy helped us develop the questionnaire that was included with the discussion document. The research was mainly qualitative as we wanted more than a 'yes' or 'no' answer. All questionnaires, submissions and other comment were analysed by the consultants. This early information was passed on to Sydney Water's planners to help them steer their strategies. Focus groups were held as we wanted to compare findings of submissions and questionnaires from interested stakeholders with a representative sample of our 'uninitiated' customers. People chosen were not familiar with the consultation process, nor had they read Choices. In order to introduce wastewater issues, we made a short video to show focus group participants. Holding focus groups helped us ensure that we had a representative and fair response from the process, as well as an indication of the broad level of understanding of issues in the community. The issue of validity of comment received through consultation is an important one. We wanted to be sure that the analysis of that comment was balanced and that we were adopting the right direction from the findings so far. We engaged an Associate Professor from Macquarie University in Sydney to give us a report card on our analysis. This has provided us with a 'third party endorser', and enabled us to be assured that our assumptions are correct.

The Sydney Water Project A major part of the collection of customer information from Choices was our consultation project with peak environment groups. Called the Sydney Water Project, it involved funding four key environment groups to study and critically review Sydney Water's water and wastewater management and the ecological impacts of operational activities. The four groups were: • Nature Conservation Council of NSW Inc. • Friends of the Earth (Sydney} Inc.

• National Parks Association ofNSW Inc. • Total Environment Centre Inc. The project was instigated in order to establish a more informed, reciprocal relationship between the corporation and major environment groups. During the life of the Clean Waterways Program, environment groups have been fairly critical of our method of operating in recent years. We wanted to move from a confrontational relationship with environment groups, to a sharing of information with them. It proved to be a two-way street with our staff learning as much about the positions adopted by the environment groups as the groups learnt about how we operate. The project was a 'first' for a government agency seeking closer involvement this way, and it meant giving unprecedented external access to information. After the initial negotiating stage, which lasted 15 months, the project was completed in three phases: • a research phase which resulted in the production of nine detailed issues papers • a public consultation phase to help ensure that the community views on issues and recommendations were being taken into account • a final report phase, where the findings of all the issues papers were drawn together more explicitly in the context of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) . During the negotiation stage the environment groups discussed their needs and position. We agteed that throughout the life of the project we would ensure that the groups maintained their independence ; that the research papers would be based on a total water cycle approach; that access to documents and information would be available; that the research papers would be integrated; that the public consultation phase would be totally supported and that the project would include a fully funded steering committee to coordinate the tasks. The nine research projects were: • indicators of environmental quality • ecological implications for riverine environments • the efficiency of water use • ecological implications for marine and estuarine environments • sewage treatment • sludge management • source control • stormwater management • water reuse. Consultation was a key task for the project. With the advice of a consultation consultant, a model was developed so that the interested community could comment on the research findings. This took the form of advertising a series of workshops and supplying summary brochures of the research topics. Comments were invited on the brochures and the research reports were also made available for comment. Six workshops were held through-


out Sydney Water's area of operations. Comment was collected and analysed. As well, questionnaires were distributed at community events. The sludge management research team attended a national field day at Orange, NSW, where farmers and other interested people were asked to discuss their understanding of sludge application, and to fill in a survey. The environmental indicators research team held a workshop with technical people to discuss and test their findings. All community comment was analysed and factored into the final report. The Sydney Water Project's final report, A New Course for Sydney Water, Qune 1995) provided more than 150 recommendations on how the groups viewed issues and options associated with planning Sydney's water and wastewater · services for the future . The report cites ecologically sustainable development as the basic framework for providing these recommendations, defines its interpretation for ESD, provides reasons for such interpretations and gives guidance on the acceptability or unacceptability of various operational, planning and investment practices relative to these interpretations. The recommendations were grouped in two categories; immediate, and those to be implemented within the next ten years. This was an exciting outcome because it showed that the expectations were realistic, recognising staged improvement as a reasonable approach. The report was accepted with much enthusiasm by Sydney Water, with the corporation agreeing with over 85% of the recommendations. Both parties have agreed that the unique collaborative effort between the corporation and the environment groups has set the scene for a future partnership in water issues. During consultation with key stakeholders (including the Sydney Water Project) issues emerged that needed further discussion. Decentralisation of the sewerage system had been put up as a viable option. We gathered stakeholders round the table for a workshop where this issue was discussed. After much discussion and inspection of our modelling work on the system, it became clear that what appears to be a simple solution may not be practical give the investment already made in major infrastructure. We have learnt the value of watching and listening as our interested community debates the options in an open way. The findings from the Sydney Water Project have had a major impact on how we plan and it is gratifying to see this reflected in our documents. One of the major successes of Choices so far has been our collaboration with the environment groups. We will benefit from a closer understanding of our different philosophies.


Conclusions There is much discussion about the correct methodology for community consultation. Sydney Water has adopted a continuous improvement policy, based on best practice. Choices for Clean Waterways has allowed us to factor our stakeholders' requirements into the decision-making process. We do not believe that any one methodology works as every project or situation is different and requires special tools or approaches. There are some basic principles that guide consultation within Sydney Water: • be open • learn from our customers and stakeholders • make decisions, as far as possible, in partnership with the community • listen • incorporate comments into our planning process • change direction if required • help people understand our activities and our vision. Making the right business decisions is not just dependent on consultation. We have 'good science' and knowledge which we use to influence the debate on various inaccurate but popular views. As a corporation, Sydney Water has many responsibilities which we need to balance in order to deliver outcomes to satisfy our customers and our shareholders. We undertake consultation so that we can offer our community the opportunity to help develop ideas and options, and to comment on our existing and proposed activities. Gone are the days when an organisation like ours can build, add to, or change structures without consulting those who will be affected by the change. Through Choices for Clean Waterways Sydney Water is ensuring that the future for managing water and wastewater services in Sydney is undertaken with our community's input and support.



References The Water Board (1994) Choices for Clean Waterways. A discussion paper on planning wastwater services for the future. Sydney Water. Sydney Water (1995) Managing sewage overflows in the Sydney region, a discussion of issues for Environmental Management Statements on sewage oveflows from the sewerage systems. Sydney Water. Dowsett, Mather, Mercer, Pearson, Vincent (1995) A New Course far Sydney Water. Final report of the Sydney Water Project. Sydney Water.

Author Susan Love joined the Clean Waterways Program as a marketing consultant in 1991. She was part of the team which instigated the consultation project with the peak environment groups and was closely involved throughout the life of the Sydney Water Project. Susan manages the Choices consultation process for Sydney Water.

Disinfected Water

I Contaminated Water

71 Lewis Road, G lynde, PO Box 222, Marden SA 5070

Telephofte (08) 337 0079 Facsimile (08) 337 9465 13


COMMUNICATING WITH CUSTOMERS: RESEARCH TECHNIQUES N Roseth* Summary Sydney Water has maintained a program of customer evaluation for some years. 1bis paper outlines the methodology and some of the more recent results of such surveys.

Why and How? Sydney Water must improve its ser.vice to customers in order to achieve the goals set in its Act and Operating Licence, namely: • to be a successful business • to protect the environment • to protect public health. To do that we must know what our customers know about us, what they expect of us and how they judge our performance. In order to establish a partnership with our customers in matters such as water re-use and the implementation of demand management strategies, we must also gauge customers' understanding of, and attitude to, such issues. To gain this knowledge we communicate regularly and frequently with: • our stakeholders, members of interest and pressure groups and environmental bodies - the vocal minority • the 'man and woman in the street', those who rely on our services daily and whose opinion counts but is rarely heard - the silent majority. Communication with the first group involves extensive community consultation which includes the dissemination of position papers and an analysis of the response to them and this is the substance of the paper by Love, this issue. Our customer research program was developed t_o communicate with the second group and 1s the focus of this paper.

Customer Research In 1993 Sydney Water embarked on an annual program of customer surveys. We survey residential and commercial/ industrial customers separately. At the time of writing, we are in the process of analysing the findings of the third residential and the second commercial/ industrial customer surveys. The purpose of the annual customer surveys is to: • provide information on customers' views on Sydney Water's performance • enable a comparison over time of customers' views on Sydney Water's performance 14

• assist with decision making and planning for future services and products which align with customers' needs and expectations. The surveys cover topics such as: • the perceived importance of Sydney Water's functions and judgement of their performance • extent of contact with the corporation and satisfaction with the contact outcomes • views on the quality of tap water and the extent of using alternatives • views on the quality of sewage services • views on pricing and billing • customers' information needs. To enable comparison of findings, the majority of questions asked in the surveys remain constant from year to year. Some questions are added each year in response to emerging issues; others whose currency has expired are deleted. Covering such a wide range of topics, these annual surveys obviously cannot provide in-depth information on any one topic. When comprehensive information is required on a specific topic, Sydney Water conducts one-off specific issue surveys. For example, we recently conducted a survey on 'Community Views on Water Conservation and Restrictions'. This provided us with both direction on how to manage drought strategies and an evaluation of the related media campaign. We are currently analysing the data of another one-off survey which examines community views on water re-use. This is a sensitive topic in which it is important to know the extent of the community's understanding of the concept and its acceptance of it. We also use qualitative research to gain in-depth information on aspects of service that cannot be captured in quantitative research. For example, prior to corporatisation we wished to assess the community's understanding of the implications of corporatisation and their acceptance of the concept. This was not a topic which could be suitably studied through a phone or mail survey. The concept ?a~ to be explained and therefore a qualitative approach was used. The surveys described above are carried out at a corporate level and focus on corporate, 'big picture' issues. In addition, the regions conduct a Customer Satisfaction Monitor four times a year which targets customers who have inter-

acted with a Sydney Water office by phone, visit, letter or fax. The monito: is designed to measure the extent to which customers are satisfied with the effectiveness and efficiency with which the matter they raised was dealt with.

Methodology Questionnaire development. The surveys have the potential to provide a rich source of information on customers' views of our activities. We recognise that to make the most of the opportunities provided by the surveys, those who use the results (senior managers, planners, operators) must. identify the information that they reqmre from customers. A few months prior to the conduct of the annual surveys, a workshop is held to review the previous year's survey, identify obsolete questions and add new ones. All questionnaires are trialed and further refined where necessary. The Managing Director approves the final version of the questionnaires. Sampling. In sampling for the residential survey, we assume that customers use water and sewerage services in a fairly uniform way. A sample of 1,000 customers is drawn randomly from the telephone book; 250 from each of Sydney Water's four regions. In the analysis, data is weighted to allow for the different number of customers in the various regions. The assumption that water is uniformly used does not hold for commercial and industrial customers, where the amount of water and the purpose for which it is used varies considerably across customers. In this case, Sydney Water's customer database is used to draw a random sample of commercial and industrial customers. The sample is further segmented according to the magnitude of water c~nsumption - low, medium, high and ma1or water users. All 'major' water users (100,000 kl/ pa or more) are included in the survey. Mode of survey and response to it. The surveys are conducted by way of a telephone interview lasting about _15 minutes. In the residential survey, carried out during the evenings aµd weekends, the interview is conducted with a member of the household over 18 years of age. In the commercial/industrial survey, someone in the business who is knowl•sydney Water, PO Box A53, Sydney South 2000


mance rose considerably. Between 1994 and 1995 performance ratings continued to rise, but not quite as significantly. The mean performance rating for the three years is 5.6, 7.0 and 7.2 respectively. Commercial-Industrial Survey. Customers were asked to indicate whether they expected their business' demands on Sydney Water to increase, decrease or remain the same over the next few years. Table 1 summarises results. The table shows that future demands on Sydney Water are not evenly distributed across the various consumption groups. In planning customer service initiatives we know that demands are more likely to come from major and high consumers. Direct approach will reveal the nature of future demands. Community views on water conservation and restrictions. In the midst of a severe drought last summer and while restrictions on water usage were in place, customers were asked whether they would support the continuation of restrictions if the drought continues and their retention if the drought ends. Table 2 summarised findings. The table shows that while there is a generally high level of support for restrictions, in planning future drought strategies some forms of restrictions are more likely to gain support than others.

edgeable about that company's water and sewerage matters is interviewed. In some cases, it is necessary to interview more than one person in a particular company to obtain a response to all topics covered in the questionnaire. Interviewers make about three to four call backs where necessary. Typically interviewers have to make three calls to obtain one response. Qualitative research. Qualitative research is conducted by way of focus groups. Typically between five and ten groups are organised across Sydney Water's area of operation. The groups' composition reflects the demographic characteristics of Sydney Water customers. A social researcher facilitates the group discussions following a set interview schedule and using, where necessary, support materials.

· Some Key Findings To illustrate the range of information yielded from customer surveys, below are key findings from three recently conducted surveys. Residential customer survey. Customers are asked to rate the overall performance of the organisation on a 10 point scale ranging from 1 - terrible to 10 - excellent. Figure 1 shows performance ratings for 1993, 1994 and 1995. It shows that between 1993 and 1994 overall perfor-

Table 1 Over the next few years, do you expect your business demands on Sydney Water to

increase, decrease, or remain the same? Water consumption group

Increase %

Decrease %

Remain the same %

Unsure %

38 34 18 55 23 9 14

30 9 3 6 1 4 4

26 56 75 39 71 80 76

6 1 4 0 5 7 6

Major Industrial Customers High Industrial Customers Med/ low Industrial Customers Major Commercial Customers High Commercial Customers Med/ low Commercial Customers Total Commercial/ Industrial Customers

Table 2 :what kind of restrictions would you su/J/Jort? Nature of restrictions

Support if Support if drou2ht continues - % drou2ht breaks - % 92 77

Further limiting hours of watering gardens Complete ban on washing cars Setting an upper limit on the amount of water people can use Lowering pressure in everybody's taps Complete ban on watering gardens Ban on hosing down driveways/ paths 30

-] ~






74 70

20 49

62 49





Performance reporting. Along with the obligation to report on performance against targets in health, technical, financial, regulatory and environmental areas, Sydney Water is required to report on its performance in the area of customer service. In fact, for the Key Result Area of 'Meet Our Customer Needs', one of the stated targets is: 'Continuous improvement in customer satisfaction and perception of Sydney Water's performance.' These surveys which reflect the views of the 'typic<!,l customer', are an obvious tool to measure the extent to which the target is achieved. Report Card. Sydney Water produces a 'Report Card' which is often used by the managing director in presentations to the Board of Directors, the Government, shareholders and addresses to staff. The Report Card contains 21 performance indicators. Four of these derive from customer surveys. The planning process. In order to coordinate its planning function, Sydney Water has developed a Strategic Management Process designed to: • establish a clearly defined overall direction for the organisation • set priorities for the continuing development of products and services • provide a detailed framework for the production of business plans. Customers' expectations and needs, as gleaned from surveys, are a regular input into the process. The education campaign. Information derived from customer surveys assists in shaping Sydney Water's advertising and education campaign. We need to know what customers' information needs are and how best to impart the information. We need to know whether the messages we are putting out are clearly received. Customer surveys provide us with this knowledge.

Summary These surveys are a finger on the public pulse. The effectiveness of public involvement initiatives can be enhanced by knowledge of 'where the public is at' in its views, knowledge and expectations. Sydney Water's customer survey program provides the corporation with research based information to direct its public involvement programs.



26 20

Using Survey Findings






0 2








Rating out of 10

Figure 1 '7' to '1 O' overall performance rating, 1993, 1994 and 1995



-- -




Dr Naomi Roseth has ulorked in research and evaluation positions in the Department of School .Education, the Independent Commission Against Corruption and far the last two years as Manager, Performance Evaluation, in Sydney Water. 15


COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAM: SEVEN STEPS R Whately* Communication and Education

Developing a Communication Program

The primary aim of community con· sultation is to involve stakeholders and/or the broad community in the decision-making process. To do this effectively requires an informed and an interested community, which involves communication. A communication program includes a ·range of activities such as community education, community consultation, pub· lie relations, media relations and advertis· ing, community development and involvement (see Figure 1). The bound· aries between these activities are not clear cut and can overlap. The type of consultation desired will determine which ele· ment of the communication model is cho· sen. This will depend on the perceived importance of the issue/project by the community plus the environmental, eco· nomic, social impact of the issue/project. Communication programs need to build on a platform of previous knowledge and experience. So, before deciding on the outcome or level of impact a program is trying to achieve, a check should be made to determine what level of awareness or understanding the target audience already possesses. Community education programs aim to encourage long-term attitudinal and behavioural change by the community, through increasing awareness and under· standing. In addressing community behavioural change, community education is one important component of an integrated approach · the 5 'E's: • education and other forms of communi· cation • engineering and technology • enforcement (legislation and regulation) • economics (pricing) • encouragement (incentives). For example, a water conservation pro· gram could contain: • education · school teacher materials, brochures with conservation tips, TV advertisements • engineering · allowing re-use of grey water or treated wastewater for non· drinking purposes to save potable water • enforcement · restriction on water use during summer high use periods • economics · user pays and pricing struc· tures which encourage more careful use • encouragement · rebates on water efficient appliances.

Experience has shown that a success· ful program can be analysed into seven steps. As you work your way through the seven steps, you may find the need to modify your analysis by going back through the circle; or you may even be able to do some of the steps simultane· ously. The important point is to ensure that no steps are left out.


Step 1. Defining and Analysing the Situation. Situations requiring a communication program can arise from a number of sources. For example, as a result of a crisis; a new initiative; an emerging issue; a regular activity; a man· agement directive; as a result of feedback from customers or formal evaluation of an existing communication program. In order to answer the following key questions, it will be important to draw upon different sources of information, namely: previous experience internally or in other organisations, feedback from staff, market research and reports. • What is your communication need or issue? • Is this need or issue part of a larger problem? • Can the need or issue be linked with an existing or proposed communication pro· gram? • What are the urgent, short-term and long-term needs? • Is another type of management response also required? ie. one or more of the other five 'E's · engineering, econom· ics, enforcement or encouragement. • What factors will have a positive impact on your program? For example, benefits, motivators. What resources are already available? • What factors will have a negative impact on your program? For example, barriers. • Are there any groups directly affected by the issue? · If yes: who are they? · Do they know about the issue? · If yes: what do they know about the issue? · If yes: how have they obtained informa· tion about this issue? · What is/would be their attitude towards the issue? Your answers should lead you to deci· sions on a broad strategy. For example, you must recognise that different target

audiences will have different needs and that higher level outcomes may require several stages leading to behaviour change. There are differences between short-term issues · where the emphasis should be on awareness of the issue in the community, and long-term issues where understanding of the issue is enhanced by school education and by encouraging and facilitating local action to address the issue.

Step 2. Target Audiences and Stakeholders. Target audiences can be defined in several ways. For example: geographical region, ethnic background, socio-economic group, age group, occu· pational group, special interest group, or behavioural or attitudinal segment within a broader community. You must define: • which are your target audience(s)? inter· nal or external? • which are the audiences that you most want to reach? • prioritise your list. . Stakeholders can be identified under six broad categories (Brotherton and Owen, 1991). • broad interest groups • vested interest groups • affected individuals • general public • champions • media. Step 3. Key Messages. The infor· mation collected in Step 1 tells you about people's existing knowledge and atti· tudes. Now you have to work out what you want to communicate to people; what you want them to know, feel, think or how you want them to behave. Firstly, identify the essential one or two key messages you wish to communi· cate. Keep it simple. An example of a key message is: Wasting water wastes money. From the essential key messages you will probably need to develop supporting messages which go into more detail. If you want to change behaviours about the issue or situation, you will need to make sure your selected messages cover the five different types listed below. If you just want to raise awareness, then use only informative, feelings or responsibility messages. ' • Informative messages convey 'facts'. For example, 150 litres of water is flushed down an average household toilet every day. • Melbourne Water, Box 4342, Melbourne 3001


Table 1. Communication Program Matrix A





Key Messages

Appropriate Tools and Techniques

Target Audiences

Priority Key Messages

Priority Tools and Techniques

Message l (MI) Message 2 (M2) Message 3 (M3) Message 4 (M4) Message S (MS)

Tool A Too!B Tool C Too!D Too!E

Audience Audience Audience Audience Audience

Ml, M3, M4, for example Ml, M2, MS, for example Etc. Etc. Etc.

Tools C, D, E, for example Tools A, C, E, for example Etc Etc. Etc.

l 2 3 4


Notes: Column (A) lists the various messages to be conveyed by the Communication Program. Column (B) liits the tool, and techniques to be used in the program (selected from the list in Step 4 above). Column (C) lists the various target audiences, one to a line, e.g. general, schools, older customen, environmental groups, etc. Column {D) contains, on each line, the messages from column (A) for each target audience in column (C). Column (E) contains the tool, and techniques to be used to convey the messages of column (D) to the target audience in column (C).

• Feelings messages get people emotionally involved in an issue. For example, plastic in waterways can kill or injure animals. • Responsibility messages appeal to a person's sense of what is right or proper. For · example, plastics and other non-biodegradable domestic waste cannot be treated in the sewerage system, so dispose of waste properly. • Empowering messages empower people to act. For example, individual actions, no matter how small, do make a difference. • Action messages advise people how they can become involved or what to do. For example, do the right thing. Dispose of your litter thoughtfully and recycle when you can. Step 4. Possible Communication Tools and Techniques. In this step, you will need to think widely and creatively about possible tools and techniques for your communication program. Brainstorming is a quick and easy way of freeing-up your mind and generating lots of ideas quickly. Techniques can be selected from the following categories: personal contact, participatory media, 'activated' displays, static displays and media, audiovisual media and mass media. Step 5. Matching Your Audience To Key Messages and Techniques. First, select the appropriate key messages for each target audience. Secondly, for each of your target audiences, determine which communication technique{s) are appropriate, effective and cost efficient.

Thirdly, identify which techniques will be used to transmit each message. Check here that each message is going to be effectively transmitted. You may want to use more than one technique per message. The matrix in Table 1 analyses the options. Finally, you will need to check that there is an appropriate balance between techniques which give information and those which facilitate interaction between the organisation and its audience(s). Step 6. Costing, Timelines and Approvals. From Step five you will have an outline of a communication strategy. In step six you will turn it into an action plan. Costing: identify initial capital and recurrent costs including staff, any ongoing costs and in addition, the possibility of any potential income. Tirnelines: timelines need to be prepared to ensure that sufficient staff and financial resources are available to deliver the various components of the program. Timelines should also identify key milestones and evaluation points. Exposure and distribution: techniques which require your target audience to visit a site, e.g. wastewater treatment complex tour, need to be effectively promoted via and advertisements, presentations launches. A distribution plan needs to be developed before a publication is written, so that you can be sure that your messages will reach your audience and you know how many copies to print. Videos and

films also need distribution outlets. Approvals: You will need to document the proposed communication program in a proposal for approval by your manager using the material you have gathered so far. Brief: if you propose to use other staff or consultants to develop some part of your program, e.g. publication or a video, you will need to prepare a job brief for them. Step 7. Evaluating. Finally, you will need to set measures which will evaluate your program. Go back to your essential key messages from Step three and your target audience from Step two. • Did your message{s) reach the audience to the extent expected? How do you know? • Were your message(s) understood? How do you know? • Did you achieve the hoped for effect? How do you know? Evaluation methods which could be used include: market research and evaluation questionnaires developed for specific techniques, e.g. school visits, random phone samples, informal evaluation, word of mouth or audience response at a talk.

Acknowledgements This article is based on a Melbourne Water publication, lmpl.emmting Community Edur,ation, and incorporates ideas from delegates at the MUWAA 1992 and 1994 Education Network conferences.

Reference Inform

Behaviour Chango Attitudinal Chango

~ ~ 0

--- --- ..._ ..._

'' '


Community Education

of Message

Retention ol Message


Public Relations Madia Relations Advertising



Community Oavalopment and Involvement


'' \



Exposure of Massage



listen to and Advise

' '\





One Way


Figure 1 Communication Model


Two Way


Brotherton PD, Owen D K (1991) 'Sustainable Development: The Public Consultation Imperative' International Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium

Author Richard Whately has an Honours B.Sc (Geology) and a Diploma of Education. He has worked on a number of,stormwater and wastewater communication projects and was Manager Community Education for Melbourne Water. Following the dis-aggregation, he holds the position of Manager Community Relations within the Waterways and Drainage Group. 17


COMMUNITY EDUCATION: GRASS ROOTS A Colliver* Papers in this issue of Water have emphasised the degree to which planning of water resources and the water industry now involves the community. For optimal decisions we must have a community which can understand the impacts of our behaviour as individuals and as society and of the effects of our decisions. A well-informed community is the essential pre-requisite for meaningful and effective community participation in water resources management. Conveying the issues to a community of adults even today requires engineers and planners to translate their jargon into real language, and even then, sometimes concepts are rejected by ignorance, emotional response and prejudice.

Water Week, Water Wise, Water Watch, Streamwatch and other initiatives are endeavouring to overcome these difficulties, and there have been a number of succesful programs in schools in most states. It is in this latter area that there has to be hope for the future, and over the past two years a national approach has come to fruition. A joint initiative betweeen the National Land care Program and the South Australian Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with input from representatives in other states, has resulted in

Watercare - A curriculum resource for schools, aimed at teachers in primary schools all over the nation. It is a lively and innovative teaching and learning resource that 'encourages passionate discussion about water, watercare, integrated catchment management, ecological sustainability, and informed and active citizenship'. Students are involved in investigating water in natural and built environments, both as a system and as a resource, and encouraged to take action on local, regional and global scales. Where it differs from most other school initiatives in the field of water, is that it is integrated into the eight required areas of study in the nationally developed curriculum for Australian schools, so that the pervasive nature and values of water-related issues can be understood. It falls within the area of Studies of Society and Environment, but its cross-curricular approach calls on all the other areas such as art, science, maths, health, technology, English and other languages. The curriculum package can be used by teachers and students from reception to Year five. It includes a cassette recording of fun songs (about frogs, gardening,


The resource comes as a 90-page, A 3, two-colour production of high quality, costing a mere $15.00, plus $3.50 mailing, from the Water Resources Group of the Department for Environment and Natural Resources, GPO Box 1047, Adelaide 5001. The ape costs an extra $10.50. It is recommended not only for its target audience of teachers, but also for those in our water industry who have to plan for the future ... and their future customers.

Author W atercare was produced by Angela Colliver, a teacher who has been a curriculum writer for the past seven years. She has been involved in writing W ormwatch, Kids for and 'shorter showers sure save water', to mention but a few) . Some have obvious environmental messages, others are more subtle, and they are designed to appeal up to Year five. The resource bank includes fact sheets, fiction, poetry, songs, science support and activity sheets. A more advanced program for Years 6-10 is currently being developed.

Landcare-Ecosystems, Bilbies not Bunnies and a Murray -Darling Basin Commission publication, We all have a part in caring for the land. For the Watercare

project she was seconded from the SA Department ofEducation to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. *Dept of Environment & Natural Resources, Adelaide

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WASTEWATER 2040 REVISITED G V Harris,* EJ Murphy, B S Sanders Introduction The Water Authority of Wes tern Australia's Wastewater 2040 strategies for Perth and the South-West corner of Western Australia, are currently being informally assessed by the Department of Environmental Protection. This assess. ment period offers an opportunity to review and revisit the Wastewater 2040 project and the community involvement programme (Figure 1). The technical information to support the development of the strategies was derived from the major engineering and scientific studies, the Perth Coastal Waters Study and the Study of Effluent Disposal Options. This article considers the principal elements of the Wastewater 2040 project and in particular the Wastewater 2040 Community Involvement Programme. The project has been previously detailed in the paper published as part of the AWWA Federal Convention, Sydney in April 1995, entitled 'Wastewater 2040 Community Involvement Programme'. Sound commercial practice indicates that community and customer involvement in the decision making process to help shape future wastewater services and provide services to meet the customer needs has become the overriding business and marketing principle.

Wastewater 2040 Project The Wastewater 2040 project and the Wastewater 2040 Community Involvement Programme has been an outstanding success in identifying the wastewater treatment and effluent disposal/reuse issues. Some of the major issues that the community wished the Water Authority to address included: • treated wastewater effluent was considered as a valuable resource that should be reused to the community's benefit • the ocean disposal of treated wastewater effluent was considered unsatisfactory • small scale and local treatment to be given greater consideration • treatment and disposal/reuse options to be evaluated against an agreed criteria. The generally held opinion within the Water Authority is that these issues were already well known. However, hearsay and anecdotal evidence cannot form the WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

basis of a strategy with the potential to commit millions of rate payers' dollars in capital expenditure. The documented scientific research produced during the project provided a sound basis for the development of the Wastewater 2040 Strategies and a wealth of additional information on which to base management decisions. The project was tracked using market research and a project evaluation process. The project evaluation process was developed by the Water Authority's principal community involvement consultant, the CSIRO's Australian Research Centre for Water in Society. One of the interesting facts to emerge from the project's evaluation process was that participants who took part in the project were very satisfied with the process and indicated a willingness to participate in future involvement programs. This fact reflects well on the performance of the CSIRO in achieving psychological satisfaction and procedural justice for community participants. The project was also successful in determining through the Perth Coastal Waters study that there was a negligible effect on the marine environment from the disposal of wastewater secondary effluent. However, some early warning signs were found at Cape Peron from the disposal of primary effluent and as a result the Water Authority is continuing an extensive monitoring program in the area to determine effects and take any necessary corrective action. The Alternative Effluent Disposal Options Study demonstrated that there are alternative land based options for the disposal/reuse of treated wastewater effluent. However these options involved additional cost and the need to safeguard public health standards and the environment. The information from the studies was drawn together in the Wastewater 2040 strategies which established broad directions for the treatment and effluent disposal over the next 50 years. These strategies have been generally well received by the community, local authorities and planning agencies.

Project Awareness Community awareness of the Wastewater 2040 project and wastewater issues was a constant source of concern

for the project's management. Initial awareness was measured early in the project and levels of 4% were achi~ve~. Community awareness peaked at 9 1/o m October 1994 at the height of the project following an extensive media and advertising campaign. Superficial analysis would suggest that the achievement of a 9% awareness rating is very satisfactory. However, when this result is compared with other major Water Authority undertakings such as the 'Drought Campaign' which achieved 60-70% market penetration then further analysis is warranted. An initial decision taken by Water Authority management was to conduct the Wastewater 2040 project as a low profile community based project, relying heavily on community and grass root support and involvement. As a consequence, the design of the program, including timing and finance, werj:! based around this proposition. While the Water Authority is confident that the issues have been addressed, doubt still lingers in regard to overall community awareness of the project and the community's understanding of wastewater treatment, effluent disposal and reuse issues. This is one aspect of the project that could have been handled differently and is further considered under the section on improvements.

Involvement Process The Wastewater 2040 project and the community involvement programmt were managed through the rigid application of commercial principles, including competitive tendering, project man~gement, fixed financial budget and cost JUStification. The CSIRO was appointed as the principal consultant for co~~nity involvement after successfully wmnmg a competitive tender from a short listed group of community practitioners. The interaction between the Water Authority and the co~munity is !h,e important 'shop window of the pubhc s perception of the authoritr and the way its business is conducted. The workshops facilitated by the CSIRO on behalf of the Water Authority presented the two groups to the community as a team, with all the benefits and costs that resulted *Water Authority of WA, Box 100, Leedeiville, 6902


from the association. The overall community involvement process was designed to give the community three specific opportunities through workshops to contribute to the project. However, many other opportunities were offered to enable opinions to be registered. Workshops were the principal forum and means of obtaining information from the community on wastewater issues. The workshops were carefully designed by the CSIRO to minimise information-giving and maximise community feedback. This was achieved using short presentations by technical experts followed by community discussion in small groups. As a result individuals and single issues could not dominate proceedings and at the end of the day if the individual wished to say more or put a point of view, an additional information ¡sheet could be filled out and submitted. Ten workshops were conducted during stage one and two of the process, with a total of 387 people attending. Comments were also received in 122 written submissions which have been integrated into the final strategies.

Community Involvement The Water Authority, having awarded the contract to the CSIRO, was fortunate to gain many additional attributes which were not anticipated in the original specification. The CSIRO has an extremely high standing in the Australian community with a reputation as the senior statesman of Australian government scientific agencies. The CSIRO also brought to the project community trust and credibility, objectivity and a well established list of environmentally active participants. The Water Authority for its part is also held in high regard by the community and its customers. This is the result of sound engineering practice over many years delivering environmentally sustainable services and maintaining health standards of a high order. When these groups teamed in the Wastewater 2040 project they represented a balanced debate.

Water Authority Involvement The Wastewater 2040 project commenced at a time when the much publicised Sydney experience, Bondi Beach and Sludge Files, was still fresh in the minds of the public. As a result, Water Authority staff entered the project with considerable apprehension. Apprehension also existed due to the defence of past practice, notwithstanding an excellent health and environmental record associated with the wastewater business in Westem Australia It is now felt that the wastewater business may take a generation to overcome the stigma resulting from the Sydney experience. These circumstances, coupled with a growing community awareness of wastewater issues and the


worldwide trend aimed at reversing the current practice of disposing of treated wastewater effluent to the marine environment, presented a contentious base from which to launch the project. The initial impetus for the community involvement programme was the potentially controversial launching of an additional ocean outfall at Cape Peron. This was an option unacceptable to the majority of community members. As the project and process evolved, the authority's view on a possible ocean outlet and many other issues changed, to the point where it now appears unlikely that a new ocean outlet will be launched in the near future, providing a suitable alternative can be found. There has also been a considerable attitudinal change in the way the Water Authority's wastewater business has been carried out, moving from a defensive group with the high handed attitude of

'we know what's best' to an open and responsive organisation prepared to listen and consider.

Environmental Conditions The main trigger for future capital expenditure within the new corporatised water utility in Western Australia will be the environmental and regulatory licence conditions imposed for each treatment and disposal facility. It will be imperative for the Water Authority to meet the conditions in order to retain the licence and remain in business. Environmental values are based on scientific information and reflect conditions acceptable to the community at the time of issuing the licence. If unrealistic environmental conditions are imposed there will be an extra cost to the community. Additional treatment and disposal costs are passed onto the community and

Minister for Water Resources invites Community to Participate

October 93 Stage 1

0Community Given Information About Wastewater

0Members of Community Give Their Views

0Water Authority Listens, Thinks, and Responds with a Discussion Paper


Community Views


M a rine Opt ions


L a nd Options

0Stage 2


Community Review


0Water Authority Prepares Draft Wastewater 2040 Strategy

October 94

Stage 3



Community Comment

Submit to DEP



DEP Considers Strategy

March 95



IWater Authority Adopts Strategy I Figure 1 The Consultation Process


industry and ultimately affect infrastructure costs and economic viability. Environmental standards tend to be very site specific. They vary from location to location and standards that were acceptable in the past or those that have been applied in other states may not be appropriate. To illustrate this point, in Perth there are a number of wastewater pumping stations located adjacent to the Swan River. In an emergency situation, these pumping stations can overflow into the river. Unlike Sydney, these facilities have three hours storage at peak flow and are attached to an alarm system prompting a response within one hour. Overflows to the Swan River are generally of short duration and the Department of Environmental Protection is kept fully informed of each event. Stand-by power units are available to help offset the effects of power failure . Similarly, overflows of wastewater off Woodman Point into Gage Roads occur in emergency situations such as strikes and power failures . These occurrences are also of short duration and monitored by the regulators. By default, it can be assumed that the community is prepared to tolerate these incidents given the minimal community response and the limited impact on the environment. Market research indicates that the community trusts the Water Authority to handle the wastewater business on their behalf. Certainly the cost to provide additional emergency proof facilities would be excessive. Clearly, informal community involvement has been a part of the wastewater business for many years. When this input is combined with the formal projects such as Wastewater 2040, it is apparent that the community makes a significant contribution in determining the level and nature of the services and future licence conditions.

Political Support One of the most important successes to come out of the Wastewater 2040 project was the political and Ministerial support that the project received. The project was launched by the former Minister for Water Resources in October 1993 and he challenged the armchair planners within the community to get involved in Wastewater 2040. The project reached a high point with the Ministerial release of the Wastewater 2040 strategies in July and August 1995 by the Minister for Water Resources and the Environment. The Minister was very supportive of the strategies and the project outcomes, identifying options and costs to extend and encourage the community debate. Ultimate acceptance of the Wastewater 2040 strategies and support for the identified research and development projects has been enhanced as a result of this promotion. WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

Project Improvements The level of the community's awareness of the Wastewater 2040 project and the issues associated with the treatment and disposal of wastewater continues to be of concern to the project's management. If the project were to be undertaken again, then far greater consideration would be given to a series of informative television advertisements. Despite the cost, television is the communication media of the twentieth century that has the ability to attract a concentrated audience. A prime time spot adjacent to the commercial channel news could achieve the awareness objective. A television campaign, coupled with print media exposure and community based workshops, would be seriously considered for future community involvement programs. Controversy attracts community attention and in so doing creates interest and awareness. Six months into the Wastewater 2040 project there was a series of prolonged power failures in Perth leading to major overflows from wastewater pumping stations into the Swan River. At the time these incidents were viewed as a disaster for the Water Authority and the Wastewater 2040 project. However, with hindsight, the overflows could have provided the platform on which to launch a major television media campaign. The free media coverage combined with paid segments dealing with wastewater issues and information would have been of considerable benefit to the Wastewater 2040 project. The Water Authority's customer interface is fundamental to its viability as a service pro'('ider. It was essential that a sound working relationship was established between the Water Authority and the CSIRO in order that the Water Authority remains creditable in the eyes of the community. This is particularly important where two separate organisations interact with the community. Understandably, differing cultures and philosophies exist in the CSIRO and Water Authority. Partnering is the current management tool used to establish understanding and close working relationships. Partnering seeks to recognise the achievement of common goals through cooperation and communication and establishes a process to achieve common objectives. It attempts to identify possible problem areas well in advance of the project's execution. The CSIRO and the Water Authority overcame the difficulties and established a sound working relationship. However, the formalising of the process using the partnering methodology in future contracts could be a great advantage.

Conclusions The Wastewater 2040 project was sue-

cessful in identifying the issues and concerns of the community relating to waste- . water treatment and effluent disposal. These issues have been addressed in the Wastewater 2040 strategies, currently being assessed by the Department of Environmental Protection. The strategy documents establish broad directions for the treatment and disposal of wastewater based on best practice principles. The Water Authority's record as an environmental manager and as a maintainer of health standards has been of a very high order. The authority has adopted the principle of ¡nvolving the community in planning future wastewater services. Future community involvement programs would undoubtedly require increased levels of awareness within the community. This could be achieved through an extensive media campaign to ensure political and community acceptance of the final strategy and the financial implications. This will be achieved even if the proposals prove to be more expensive or unacceptable to certain sections of the community. To present a unified front when presenting future community involvement projects, the internal and external parties participating in the project need to agree on common objectives. The partnering methodology presents an opportunity to resolve cultural and philosophical differences well before ¡ a project enters the. public arena. The Water Authority's wastewater business is committed to involving the community in planning wastewater treatment and disposal services.

Award The Water Authority efWA rÂŤeivd tht prestigious Community Communialtions Award for 1995 from the Public Relations Institute of Australia for tht 'Wastewater 204()' program

Authors All the authors have had long experience in the Water Authority of Western Australia. Gill Harris has over 25 years in the planning and design of wastewater treatment and disposal facilities. He was the Project Manager far the Wastewater 2040 Community Involvement Programme, and coordinated the other programs of Wastewater 2040 Eugene Murphy is Manager of Infrastructure Development Branch, with a total of 30 year's experience in planning and design, construction and operations. He is the Project Director far Wastewater 2040 . Barry Sanders is General Manager Bulle Water and Wastewater. 'His 35 years have covered water quality, wastewater treatment, effeuent disposal and reuse. He has been active with NWQ,MS and the National Water Technolof;J Commitee. He constitutes the client far the Wastewater 2040 Project. 21


SECOND BOOT PLANT COMMISSIONED: MACARTHUR EA Swinton On-time, On-budget The Macarthur water supply project is now on-stream, delivering 265 MlJ d of filtered water under a Q!Q performance contract to Sydney Water. It was built by NWT Water Pty Ltd, Gointly owned by Transfield and North West Water Australia). The detailed design was by ¡ Transfield and Connell Wagner, following process design by North West Water. The operator is North West Water Australia. The time from letting of contract to passing the commissioning test was probably an Australian record for a plant over $1 00m. It took just two years, in fact, with seven days to spare. The project comprises four sections: low-head and high head pumping stations, associated pipelines and electrical work, for abstraction of the raw water from the weir pool and delivery over three km to a height of 390 m, to the raw water feed tanks; the treatment plant itself; a pipeline, 15 km long, 1200 mm MS Cement-lined, for delivery to the Sydney Water network; a minor 10 MlJd pump station for delivery of treated water to the local municipality.

Key Points Environmental sensitivity: the raw water weir pool is in a scenic area, Broughtons Pass weir, in the Cataract Gorge. In fact, a scenic road crosses the river. The old pump station, built nearly 100 years ago, bore no concessions to the 'environment', and is an eyesore which will eventually be dismantled. Problem: how to build a 400 MlJd pump station, with switch yard, in such a spot, with the added problem of the occasional raging flood, which can reach ten

metres above the weir. Answer: a two-stage pumping system. Within the gorge itself, six submersible ITT Flygt pumps {with space for two more) are installed below normal weir level, in a cut from the western cliff. Both the delivery pipeline and the power line are submerged below the river bed, and climb 40 metres up the opposite cliff in a back-filled trench, onto a plateau which is almost invisible from the road. On this plateau, the high-lift pump station, the switch yard and transformers are built. The run of the power supply from the transformers to the low lift pumps is 0.23 km, so an unusual feature is to drive the pumps at 3300 volts in order to reduce voltage drop. The highlift pumpsets were supplied by KSB Ajax Pumps. Currently four horizontal split-casing pumps are installed, driven at 11,000 volts, an unusually high voltage. They deliver the raw water through a lift of 108 m through a 2.8 km buried pipeline {1200/1350 mm mild steel, cement lined, sinkacote coated, rubber ring jointed) to break tanks {2 x 5 ML) which have been built on the top of a hill, from which the plant is fed by gravity.

The Plant The treatment plant uses direct filtration, after dosing potassium permanganate, lime, carbon dioxide, ferric chloride and polydadmac in rapid mix coagulators and channel flocculators. The filters are conventional dual media, with airwater scour prior to backwash. An innovation, not used in the previous plant at Yan Yean for Melbourne Water, is a pair of inclined baffles in each filter cell which reduce carry-over of media. These have

Potable Water Weekend

Don Bursill of the new CRC for Water

Around 110 delegates flocked to the Greenmount Beach Resort from 13-15 October to attend the Queensland 1995 regional conference: Potable Water Water, Water, Everywhere. The conference was opened by the Mayor of Gold Coast, Ray Stevens, who pledged council support for AWWA Queensland branch's proposed potable water reuse demonstration plant. The keynote speaker was Professor

Quality and Treatment in SA which commenced operating on 1 July 1995. The CRC concept ensures that epidemiological studies are integrated with water management and technology skills. Martin Neave of Fisher Stewart reviewed the pathways for recycling water; Paul Sherman of the QDPI reported on the first round of a survey of heavy metals, THMs and radionuclides in_102 Queensland urban water supplies;


been recently developed by General Filter Inc., a member company of North West Water's Brocess Equipment Division. Fluoride, chlorine/ammonia, lime and carbon dioxide are dosed to the filtered water. The site is subject to subsidence due to the network of undergound coal mines, so the plant is constructed in modules with elastomer connections in the water channels. The process can cope with raw water of turbidity as high as 60 NTU, but throughput may be reduced after storm events which provide high turbidity. However, Sydney Water can blend raw water inflows from a number of dams, {Cataract, Nepean, Cordeaux and Avon) via tunnels to the weir pool. The contract with Sydney Water is based on historical data on turbidity, but allows for reduction in throughput in case of 1/5 year or 1/ l 0 year flood events, provided best practice is maintained. As with Yan Yean, staffing is reduced to three operators, who are multi-skilled, and perform their own operational analyses. A sophisticated SCADA system enables them to monitor the whole system, from river level to finished water tanks, with lap-top access from home after hours. A safety feature operated by Sydney Water guards against the remote possibility of an acute toxic event in the catchment, such as spillage of chemicals from a road tanker. A bio-monitor station is maintained, whereby fingerling trout are maintained in a number of parallel channels fed from the raw water supply. They are scanned photo-electrically, and if more than one at a time loses its normal activity, the treatment plant is shut down .

and Geoff Hamilton of Gold Coast City Council reviewed the literature on the risk of developing cancer from long-term consumption of chlorinated potable water. Mike Muntisov, GHD Melbourne, reviewed the emerging issues in water supply and forecast that future technology for drinking water treatment would be based on methodologies that involve the least chemical usage, e.g. microfiltration, nanofiltration, GAC and ozone. WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996


WATER CONSUMPTION DOWN 30% AT STRINGYBARK GROVE HCumming Initial figures from water consumption monitoring at Stringybark Grove, a medium density development of ten energy and water efficient townhouses in the Sydney suburb of Lane Cove, show that residents use around 30% less water than they would in a conventional townhouse. When first built, the savings were anticipated to be around 20%. After a government-sponsored competition to find the best design, the townhouses were built to demonstrate that well-designed, medium density housing can be an attractive and environmentally sound alternative to the conventional, detached family home. The architects Devine Erby Mazlin and developer/ builder Capitol Apartments won the competition. All the townhouses were sold to private owners but one was retained as an exhibition house for 12 months to show its energy and water efficient features.

Water Saving Features Each townhouse has dual flush toilets which use 30% to 40% of the water used in a conventional single flush toilet. The bathrooms and kitchens use low-flow aerated taps and shower heads, which add bulk to water flow. Signs throughout the exhibition house gave advice and details about water saving appliances and technology: 'Aerated taps cut the flow of water by up to 50% and reduce splashing,' 'Front loaders use less water and soap powder,' 'Solar clothes drying is recommended.' The exhibition house had a front loading washing machine with the AAA water conservation rating and each townhouse has a water-efficient, five star energy rated dishwasher. (The exhibition house closed at the end of November.) Building in all these features means that over time, residents save money. Using less water also reduces the load on the sewage treatment system.

Every Drop Counts The importance of using water saving appliances was emphasised recently by Sydney Water Managing Director, Paul Broad. Calling for community support for the new Every Drop Counts campaign he pointed out that while: ' .... Water use per person has dropped by 210/o since 1981..... our lifestyle has changed so much over time and we now have more appliances which use water.' WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

Sydney Water has formed a new partnership with the private sector and is encouraging households to purchase and install the same kind of water saving products which are proving so effective at Stringybark Grove. A booklet containing water saving tips and special offer vouchers for water saving appliances, has been distributed to over 1.4m households. The Every Drop Counts campaign is part of a strategy to reduce water use in NSW by 25% by the year 2000 and by 35% in 2010.

Water Recycling Most of the water for Stringybark Grove's dual flush toilets comes from the recycled roof water system. Rainwater is collected from the roofs and piped into a 21,000 litre underground storage tank. From there it is transferred by a solar powered pump to individual 240 litre holding tanks in the roof space of each house. Water from the roof tanks is used for flushing toilets, watering gardens and washing cars.

Stormwater Detention A second underground detention tank, also with a capacity of 21 ,000 litres, collects runoff from driveways and parking areas. It then slowly releases it into the stormwater drains after the peak of a storm, thereby reducing the surge of storm runoff which can cause local flooding and flush rubbish into our waterways.

In the Garden In the 'average' house with a garden and lawn, between 30% and 50% of household water consumption goes on the garden. At Stringybark Grove, the open courtyard and landscaped areas not only offer privacy, but are low maintenance and designed to reduce water use. The garden of the exhibition house (and in all ten townhouses) is planted with native species which demand little water. After 12 months of minimum watering and maintenance, they are flourishing. Rainwater is collected and stored from roof runoff and can be used on the garden during dry spells, but so far, this has not been necessary. In the courtyard, the ground surface is porous mulch, gravel and open-jointed paving which allows more rainwater to be absorbed, reducing runoff into the stormwater system.

Monitoring Water and energy use is monitored throughout the complex as part of a twoyear research project. The water pipe to each hot and cold water tap is routed via a digital flow meter which measures the amount of water passing through. Meters are wired to a central data logger where the electrical digital data records the amount of hot or cold water used, the time and the date. Results will be made available after more information is gathered and analysed. They will provide a broad picture of the way water is used in the home and how it can be used more efficiently.

On the Roof Another part of the research project is a remote reading weather station on the roof. It provides a continuous record of air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction and solar incidence, along with the time and date. As well as providing information on air temperature inside the townhouses, the data will be produced as digital electronic signals and stored in the central data logger for computer analysis.

Awards The Stringybark Grove development has won five awards: • the 1994 Green Home Design Merit Award from the Architecture Show magazine • the 1994 Royal Australian Planning Institute Award for Excellence in Planning • a commendation in Lane Cove Council's Civic or Environmental Design Awards • the Master Builders' Association Award for the Energy Efficient and Effective Home category, $250,001 and over division • the 1995 National Royal Australian Planning Institute Award for Excellence in Planning.

Sponsors Stringybark Grove is supported by the Sydney Water Corporation, the NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, Sydney Electricity, Pacific Power and the Office of Energy. Further information: Department of Urban Affairs and Planning, tel (02) 391 2297.




Abstract Wastewater managers within the nonmetropolitan coastal zone are faced with the need to upgrade treatment and disposal facilities to deal with growing permanent and tourist populations. Many communities are no longer willing to accept direct disposal to the marine environment because of the risk of environmental degradation that may impair economic benefits particularly through tourism. Risk associated with current or proposed disposal techniques has not been adequately assessed in many cases because of the limited financial and technical resources of local management authorities. Environmental monitoring which forms the basis of proper risk assessment is often neglected. The responses of local managers and communities to the need for change and the influence of State and Federal policies in facilitating change are discussed.

Introduction Direct disposal of urban wastewater to the marine environment is common. Figures 1,2,3 demonstrate that the focus of wastewater disposal is on disposal to the ocean, primarily via rivers and estuaries. Estuaries in particular are the focus of anthropogenic discharges, and inshore coastal waters are particularly sensitive to pollutant introductions because they act as nursery areas for marine organisms. This means that there is significant risk that current disposal strategies may cause eventual environmental degradation. Degradation of coastal marine water quality may have negative economic consequences for coastal communities, particularly where successful tourist development depends on the natural beauty and cleanliness of the marine margin. Characterisation of these risks within complex natural systems is not easy and is also time consuming and costly. In this paper we examine the impact and efficiency of current coastal nonmetropolitan disposal systems, the range of disposal options available to planners WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

in coastal communities, the management of change in these areas and the role that communities have played in determining directions for change and decision outcomes. The experiences of two coastal towns are examined to illustrate how the need for change in wastewater disposal practices has been approached.

Recent Policy Changes Recent years have seen considerable restructuring of water industry in Australia in response to poor public sector productivity. Management shift has been from demand management economics to what is termed supply side economics where the management of water has increasingly been linked to commercialisation and improvement of service delivery. For water supply, user pays pricing policies have enabled authorities to increase their financial returns and changes have perhaps redressed some of the long-standing community belief that water can or should be delivered without charge. The utility of the user pays approach however, has not yet been applied successfully to wastewater services. At present, practical constraints surround the apportioning of a charge to sewage load contributed by each tenement. From the non-metropolitan point of view the current management and policy changes have not necessarily achieved even distribution of improved financial returns across the community. The user pays approach for instance, removes assistance provided by property based charges and displaces hidden subsidies currently built into public ownership and supported by property based charges for sewerage services. It can be argued in this context, that without these cross subsidies to both revenue and capital, many country areas simply will not generate sufficient revenue from users for the continued development, improvement or even maintenance of wastewater infrastructure. While water pricing policy may be an integral part of change in this area, infra-

structure changes are equally important. For instance, Victoria's water industry reforms have focused so far on reduction of the number of water authorities, boards and municipal operations within the State, from over 200 to the current 18 new regional water authorities (RWAs). The aim of this consolidation of management is to deal more effectively and coherently with financial and environmental issues. Control of infrastructure development by the Victorian Government has been through the Victorian EPA (VEPA} which administers the Environment Protection Act 1970 and aims to eventually eliminate wastewater discharge sites with primary effiuent treatment or less. VEPA controls change through a system of licencing (allowable effiuent pollutant volumes, concentrations and reporting requirements} and works approvals defined in the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria}, 1988. VEPA prefers to encourage rather than demand greater environmental awareness, upgrade of treatment and disposal facilities and if possible, implementation of land disposal techniques. As a result, current minimum wastewater quality standards are not stringent (primary wastewater treatment is the minimum required standard, followed by either secondary treatment or ocean outfall, with nominal 50 : 1 dilution into the ocean}. While Victoria has chosen consolidation of local water authorities as the most effective means of promoting change, New South Wales continues to rely upon a decentralised non-metropolitan wastewater management system of local government authorities (LGAs} for provision and maintenance of wastewater treatment and handling facilities. Similar to the Victorian example, however, the New South Wales EPA (NSWEPA) encourages rather than demands improvement in wastewater disposal practices through a licencing and monitoring system defined in the NSW Protection of the Environment Administration Act 799 7. The NSWEPA is • Esso Australia Ltd, South Melbourne 3006


required to 'ensure that the best practicable measures are taken for environment protection' (s7(2) POEA Act) but in reality, approval and licence standards for STPs appear to be a tradeoff between compliance costs and environmental quality benefits. General lack of environmental monitoring along the NSW coastline means that successful determination of real environmental benefits within this system may be difficult to measure. Recent EPA acceptance of the stringent ANZECC Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters (ANZECC, 1992) may appear to provide a good basis for environmental protection, though from a practical standpoint, compliance costs associated with attainment of 'acceptable' pollutant levels and the monitoring of outcomes are likely to be high.

Coastal Effluent Systems Development and introduction of strategies for change to wastewater disposal methods are usually the province of state governments, but individual communities are increasingly active in promoting the need for change. Heightened community concern is a response to overt environmental changes that have resulted from increased seasonal and permanent population along our coastline. Reticulated sewerage networks in small coastal villages, often designed and built twenty or more years ago , are now required to process effluent volumes that far exceed design capacity. Examples that typify how coastal populations have outrun disposal infrastructure are Anglesea in Victoria and Tathra in New South Wales where systems were designed to cater for maxima of around 2000 people (with treatment nominally to secondary level) . Permanent and summer holiday populations in these two coastal areas have more than quadrupled over the last twenty years (since initial system design and installation in the 1970s) to over 12000 at Anglesea and 6000 to 8000 at Tathra during summer. There has been little or no infrastructure upgrade during this time. Wastewater disposal is still effectively to the ocean (via a submerged pipeline at Anglesea and by infiltration into dune sands and ultimately into a low tidal intrusion estuary and wetland at Tathra). This is a typical disposal means for most sewered coastal communities in Victorian and New South Wales (see Figures 1 and 2). Some communities have recently developed limited water re-use (eg. local golf course at Tathra, recreation areas at Lakes Entrance and wood lots at Alberton in Victoria) but re-use of significant effluent volumes is not typical. The current capacity of treatment and disposal systems to cope with highly variable discharg-e volumes and variable pollutant loads (variable with season) is highly suspect. Examples of discharge variability are given in Figure 4 where peak


summer load at Anglesea has been recorded at 2.63MUd in contrast to a winter flow rate of 0.55MUd (280MUyr) (Gutteridge Haskins and Davey 1991). A similar seasonal variation of over 250% can be shown for Tathra ( Figure Sa, b).

Environmental Impact Depending on local dispersion conditions, seasonal sewerage system overload like that described above can result in elevated concentrations of pollutants in areas surrounding outfalls. While effluent quality is usually monitored at the outfall (for instance end of pipe monitoring at Anglesea shows typical effluent mean phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations of 3mg/l and 48mg/l respectively; Gutteridge Haskins and Davey 1991), distribution of pollutants and their concentrations within dilution zones or within groundwaters surrounding outfalls are not usually well understood. The efficiency of any dilution effects around an outfall depends upon a range of hydrologic conditions including swell and current conditions for open ocean outfall (eg. Anglesea) or tidal/riverine/ groundwater flow interactions for wetland disposal situations (eg. Tathra). These interactions are complex and demand considerable broad area monitoring to enable confident prediction of any dispersion effects, but broad area monitoring does not seems to be a common part of traditional effluent outfall management. Attempts have been made at some locations to record baseline data within receiving surface and/ or groundwaters (eg. Tathra Sewerage Augmentation

Groundwater Study: Groundwater Technolog"J 1994) though typically, studies seem to be very focused . They examine short-term effects and therefore fail to provide sufficient understanding of long-term disposal consequences (eg. Tathra Sewerage

Augmentation Groundwater Study: Groundwater Technolog"J 1994 and Geelong and District Water Board, 1991). Choosing between disposal options, however, even when monitoring data of this sort is available, is likely to be difficult, particularly if the physical and biological framework of the disposal area is complex and consequently not well understood. Tathra provides an example of how, despite considerable field data gathering (sampling and monitoring of over sixty bores), understanding of the physical processes around the outfall is still insufficient for clear choice between the various disposal options. Tathra effluent enters a small low tidal intrusion estuary where a complex set of highly variable and seasonal land and ocean processes (flushing mechanisms, wetland biological processes and aquifer movement) are relied upon to effectively process effluent pollutants. These natural estuarine processes are further complicated by variable but generally elevated

freshwater input from the STP which has formed a substantial fresh groundwater mound about the outfall (Groundwater Technology 1994). The natural wetland equilibrium is obviously disturbed (evidenced by nearby development of a reed swamp, Pragmites australis), but the exent of this disequilibrium is unclear (no further overt changes to the swamp ecology have been observed: SWC Wetlands, 1994) and the threat posed by low numbers of Microsystis (blue-green algae) cannot be predicted. To address the broader question of impact to the whole wetland by effluent ~osal, a communityled pollution momtoring program is attempting to plot seasonal as well as longer term changes to the swamp water and sediment chemistry. Leakage of nutrients from the infiltration pond into the surface waters of the swamp can now be shown. (Phosphorus levels over 4 mg/I and nitrogen at 10 mg/ I have been detected within the groundwater at the edge of the swamp and within the surface waters). However, not enough is known of the wetland ecology to characterise any risk posed by disposal. Similar uncertainties exist at many locations along the New South Wales coast. Direct ocean disposal presents a different, but no less complex set of environmental variables. Anglesea, for instance, relies on strong easterly running diurnal tidal currents to disperse discharges from its outfall which is located below low tide level. There are times, though, when discolouring of the receiving waters is significant (Geelong and District Water Board, 1991) and dispersion is poor. Ocean waters are demonstrably subject to significant vertical as well as horizontal stratification which depends on season and weather. This affects effluent dispersion (AGSO Research Newsletter May 1995). While the tools to resolve ocean dispersion effects are available (see AGSO Research Newsletter May 1995), traditional attitudes regard dispersion within the ocean as adequate, the ocean being self cleaning, ipso facto by nature. Certainly, visual inspection of seagrass beds (H ta.smaniai) opposite the effluent discharge point (above the 7 to 8 metre depth contour) showed no overt signs of biological degradation (Geelong and District Water Board 1991), though pollutant retention in local or far afield marine sediments or benthic and planktonic plants and animals are beyond investigation at this point. There is potential for concentration of pollutants at other locations along the coast.

Disposal Choices , Today, the range of potential disposal choices and eventual selection of alternatives is determined by a combination of community needs as well as natural physical systems (climate, geomorphology and geology). In the past, physical constraints WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996












k ilom t t,u

~ ~





~ Figure 1 NSW North Coast wastewater disposal method alone have determined the choice of treatment and disposal infrastructure. For instance, at both Tathra and Anglesea, while populations were relatively small, effiuent disposal direct to the ocean was the most convenient and cost effective means of eliminating wastewater, despite low annual rainfall (800-900mm at both locations} and consequent poor system flushing. A hilly coastal fringe at both locations and a poorly developed groundwater system at Tathra (generally impermeable metamorphosed sediments around the Tathra township and granitic basement within the Bega Valley} at the time reinforced the notional impracticality ofland application of effiuent and the cost effectiveness of ocean disposal. Recent years however, have seen a great expansion of coastal populations and confirmation along our coastline that the local rivers and estuaries provide only intermittent effiuent carrier performance (particularly in low rainfall areas} . There has also been a re-alignment of the community economic basis, from agriculture to tourism. Communities are now likely to see the natural coastal waterways as a tourism resource rather than as conduits for wastewater disposal. Communities are now asking for more rigorous examination of a wide range of disposal options, particularly those options that are likely to affect the viability of



Figure 2 NSW South Coast wastewater dispos~l method

tourism. Although community consultation programs are intended to provide a bridge between disposal strategies, plans and community aspirations, the interface is often far from perfect. The Anglesea and Tathra consultation processes (Anglesea: April 1990 to May 1991 and Tathra: initiated in December 1993 and continuing) showed that initial community reaction favoured the negative with a list of 'don'ts', and did not offer any positive guidance to practical disposal alternatives to ocean disposal. Communities took a precautionary approach to any outfall proposals rather than risk degradation of local environments. Community caution was heightened by the early inability of local managers to provide data or analyses that reduced uncertainty about environmental outcomes. Consultants were subsequently engaged to provide environmental data that could allay community concerns but while data was gathered to address challenges to shortlisted options, the decisionmaking processes stalled. Proposals for expansion of existing treatment and ocean disposal facilities are a typical starting point when managers are faced with the need for system upgrade. This approach generally represents considerable capital investment for upgrade of disposal facilities ( Tables 1 and 2}. Large centralised facilities were certainly initially favoured by manage-

ment authorities at both Anglesea and Tathra, but these communities displayed strong opposition to maintenance or expansion of any ocean outfall (Gutteridge Haskins and Davey, 1991 and Vivien Twyford Communications, 1994). Eventually wastewater re-use and land disposal were pursued as viable options despite the greater technical difficulty (runoff control, percolation to the groundwater, land acquisition for disposal etc} associated with land application systems. The decision to largely abandon ocean outfall options in both cases was no doubt driven by persistent community concern over the unknown pollutant effects of ocean outfall.

Acceptance of Risk How communities perceive and accept risk therefore, appears to be a critical factor in eventual option choice. As a result, an increasing proportion of management time is now absorbed in the task of communicating an accurate understanding of these risks to reduce community uncertainty and provide unambiguous options choice, but tHe cost of data acquisition is usually high and the technical benefits of acquisition are often not assured. Environmental field studies undertaken to date at both Anglesea and Tathra are an example of how attempts to provide sufficient information for accu-


20 I






!O 100 t

k dornel rf's LIM IT O F D I VID I NG RA N GE


I \

~ oc ean outtoll


o c ton outtall


Figure 3 Victorian coastal wastewater disposal method

rate risk assessment of the various disposal options ultimately meet an escalating requirement for more data to improve understanding of the natural systems involved. For instance, some environmental field research into the coastal land and marine physical and biological systems has been carried out at Tathra. This research includes basic, localised investigation of the groundwater system around the current STP {Groundwater Technology, 1994), very preliminary surface water and sediment sampling and analysis within the effluent discharge area and a visual description of wetland biology {SWC Wetlands, 1994). At Anglesea, a detailed examination of soil quality and the distribution of groundwater {ACIL, 1990, 1992) successfully laid the basis for the land disposal recommendation. Current studies however, have taken only preliminary steps towards identification of pollution hazards and do not yet adequately define, for example, contaminant migration pathways through the environment or potential bioreceptors. Appropriate management of potential risk {implementation of risk reduction measures and relevant monitoring) is a function of clear risk characterisation and evaluation {see Focht W, EPA 1995). In these cases, the initial presentation of disposal options to community groups without attendant risk assessment, promoted a considerable degree of uncertainty about strategy choices.

Conclusions Communities are demonstrably aware that risks are associated with the disposal of wastewater to the environment. They typically responded to proposals for infra27

structure change by demanding more information on the environmental impacts of current systems and proposed disposal options. Often, planners are unable to immediately provide data to reduce perceived environmental risks which means delays in instituting change {over 18 months in the Tathra case). Delays that occur in the planning process probably result from a mismatch of management and community objectives. Managers frequently do not confront at the outset the need to accurately and comprehensively define the extent of the problem {temporal as well as spatial) and the need to mould any solutions about long-term community objectives. This observation implies the need for early consultation and continuing dialogue between management and community. The Anglesea and Tathra examples clearly showed that once dialogue with the community was established, the range of possible options changed. It should be noted, however, that important constraints restrict the effectiveness of local managers who plan for changes of this sort. These constraints relate to the significant cost of data collection and the technical experience shortfall within many LGA's. The cost of thorough risk assessment is high but the financial resources of small communities are limited, so environmental investigation and monitoring programs are often neglected. They need direct financial support, perhaps through a mix of State and Federal Government funding, industry and community levies as well as accessible, central experience resources that provide background on environmental and infrastructure issues. State or Federal

Government need to take a lead in this issue of support for change, to provide LGA personnel with a range of practical and timely solutions to difficult wastewater disposal problems {Brown et a~ 1991). From the broader policy perspective, these communities should be moved {either through education or regulation) towards reduced reliance on ocean disposal. Ocean outfall of any sort appears to foster a dangerous 'out-of-sight, out-ofmind' mentality which exposes communities to the risk {currently unquantified) of environmental damage which can have serious negative impact on economic prospects {see 1988 impact of blue green algae on Gippsland Lakes communities, Fisher Stewart, 1991). To achieve truly sustainable levels of development for coastal communities, continued acceptance of risks associated with effluent disposal is clearly no longer acceptable. Innovative design of disposal/ re-use methods (for instance land application and cropping) can reduce risk, maximise the use of community resources and even provide tangible financial benefit, but the technical, logistic and financial support of the State and Federal Governments is vital in this process. In this way a more effective balance between the wastewater disposal, environmental protection and the development needs of Australia's small coastal communities can be maintained.

Acknowledgements The subject matter described in this article was prepared by the authors in part fulfilment of the requirements of Master of Environmental Studies at WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

1 Tathra Potential Cost of Infrastructure Upgrade

Table EHm fillJ')

ai-.4BXD ; ~ 4XIl) 0 0 3E[(()

>QJ" i



\ \ \



~ ~ 2SXX) 2XOJ

11U 50

.!!? ] 0 -






15'.XXJ lCXXXJ 5'.XX)


0 .0 OJ











Initial Capital Cost ($m 1994}

Upgrade of existing facility to IO 000 EP


Upgrade of existing facility to 10 000 EP plus land disposal {pipeline to site}


N earshore ocean outfall plus use of existing treatment facilities


Construction of new treatment plant and ocean outfall


Total land disposal {pipeline to site)





lv'oonlhs 1991

Figure 4 Anglesea STP effluent discharge volumes 1991

Data Source NSW PWD, 1993

Table 2 Anglesea Potential Cost ofStrategy

Option 30000 ill E ..c


~ g;_









=-~ 'fl ] 10000 .!2 :,2 Cl -


:\ I !

\ :..-- i











.n w u...

















Anglesea facility upgrade Establishment of land disposal



Data Source Gutteridge Haskins and Davey, 1991




Centralised Ocean Disposal at Black Rock

Initial Capital Cost ($m 1994)












Months 1994

Canberra Focht, W (1991) EPA Set Tone for Risk Assessment AAPG Division of Environmental Geosciences ReporterVol 4, Number 2. Fisher Stewart Pty Ltd (1991) Regional Wastewater

Management Study for Gippslarul Lakes Catchmen~ Volumes 1 and 2, A Report to the Department of Conservation and Environment, Victoria Geelong and District Water Board, (1991} Anglesea Outfall, Biological Reconnaissance Survey and Assessment, Laboratory Report: Ref. Al/91 November. Groundwater Technology Aust Pty Ltd (1994}

Figure Sa Tathra STP effluent discharge volumes 1994




-~ ]

Tathra Sewerage Augmmtation Grourulwater Study arul Wetlarul Impact Assessmen~ prepared for NSW

1200 1000

PWD and Bega Valley Shire Council. Gutteridge Haskins and Davey (1991) Geelong


Wastewater Review: Wastewater Treatment arul Disposal: A Framework for the Future, An

~ 600 QJ

E ::,



Independent Report for the Geelong and District Water Board, Geelong. SWC Wetlands and Ecological Management Consultancy (1994) Tathra Sewerage

400 200 0

Augmentation Wetlarul Impact Asessment. 6






J onuory Date

Figure Sb Tathrajanuary 1994 daily discharges Melbourne University. The authors wish to acknowledge the great assistance of Dr Alan Atkins at Melbourne University who supervised the research project on which this paper is based and provided editorial comment for this article and the generous help of personnel within the Barwon Water Authority in Victoria, the Bega Valley Shire Council in New South Wales, the Victorian Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the NSW Department of Public Works.

References ACIL Australia Pty Ltd

(1990} Anglesea


Wastewater Treatment and Disposal: Land based re-use by irrigation, August. ACIL Australia Pty Ltd {1992) Anglesea

Wastewater Land Distribution Scheme Site Investigation Repor~ February. AGSO Research Newsletter (1995} Ocean Outfall Discharges of Nutrients, Offshore Sydney Bulletin No. 22 May. Bega Valley Shire Council and NSW Public Works Department {1993) Options for wastewater treatment and recycling for Tathra and Bermagui and Wallage Lake: A community consultation program, Bega. Browne], Orr L, Smith DI, and Sellars N {1991), Environmental Information Needs of Local Government in Australia 1991, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies ANU

Vivien Twyford Communications Pty Ltd {1994) What the community says about the options for wastewater treatment and recycling for the Tathra and Bermagui and Wallaga Lake, Bega

Authors Stephen Keith Twartz is a geologist. He graduated from Sydney University in 1975 with a BSc and has over 20 years experience as a geoscientist in the management and development of natural resources. He has recently gained a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies from Melbourne University. Miguel Wood has completed a long tenure at the University of Melbourne. He graduated in 1992 with a Bsc(Hons), and has recently acquired a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies. He has taken up a position with the Victorian Department of the Premier and Cabinet. 28

WASTEWATER Chemical Versus Biological P Removal Ian Law (CMPS&F Environmental), Alan Potter (Sinclair Knight Merz) and Ross Fraser (Ross Fraser Consulting) spoke to around 45 members of the Sewage Treatment Interest Group of the NSW Branch on 20 September. Ian Law sees a place for both chemical and biological phosphorus removal to meet today's stringent discharge criteria while satisfying economic constraints. The most cost effective, reliable process would involve a combined biologicalchemical system. Issues related to biological P removal include shorter design SRT's, release of phosphorus under anaerobic conditions and prefermentation for generation of short chain volatile fatty acids for reliable performance. The need for chemical dosing to meet increasingly stringent P standards (in NSW, P must be <0.3 mg/L for sensitive water) was discussed by Alan Potter. Ch~mical dosing is very simple and may be implemented upstream, in, or downstream of biological processes. However, there is a need for a cost balance and biological P removal can reduce operating costs. Alan concluded that solutions need to be investigated on a case-by-case basis. Ross Fraser focussed on sludge aspects of the two methods of P removal and saw the major issue in the debate as disposal/ re-use.

Trade Waste Meeting Sixty people attended the third annual seminar of the Trade Waste Interest Group of NSW. Colin Ridley, Manager of the Wastewater Source Control Branch at Sydney Water Corporation (SWC), spoke about the 1995 Trade Waste Policy and Management Plan. Under the new Act, no one is permitted to put substances into a sewer without the corporation's agreement. SWC has the power to enter and take samples. ~ad_is now a major concern and ecological nsk assessment will be used to assess future standards. Pollution targets for SWC will be set by the EPA and demand management targets will be set after this. Andrew Doig, Environmental & Technical Services Manager at the Australian Chamber of Manufactures (ACM), spoke about the ACM's view of Trade Waste Policy. That the biggest issue is beach pollution, followed by fresh water and air pollution. Sydney Harbour is a major source of some pollutants for metals and sediments, urban run-off and diffuse sources produce 60-800/o of total suspended solids. A survey of 71 companies in 1993 showed costs to industry increased by 29

$30m to cover the cost of additional treatment and fees. ACM noted the improvements in TW policy, with more flexibility, concentration on new customers and resetting of limits, allowing for treatment in the sewer. Robert Kemp from BP Oil discussed waste minimisation efforts at BP and emphasised that companies needed to advertise their environmental successes to counter bad press about pollution from industry. Terry Schultz, Manager of Odours & Agribusiness at CH2-MHill, talked about odour minimisation in trade waste and other facilities and olfactometry, a quantitative method which uses people's noses as a measuring instrument in a controlled laboratory process. Several control technologies exist including air-scrubbing, catalytic conversion, biofiltration, incineration and others. Robert Shaw, Treatment Technology & Research Adviser at Tubemakers Water, talked about trade waste treatment by biological methods. Tubemakers Water are involved in intermittent activated sludge systems, applied to numerous wastes. As sludge can be a major problem, the aim is to produce small quantities, which are well stabilised and do not smell. Another requirement is to have single stage treatment to ensure simplicity of operation. Sid Agranoff, Senior Chemist at the Australian Government Analytical Laboratories, spoke about BOD testing and its history. Despite the use of electronics, measurement of DO is essentially the same as devised in the 1930s. After the meeting, there was a tour of the advanced treatment and solids handling systems at the Rouse Hill STP.

Stormwater Data On 13 September, AWWA and the Institution of Engineers jointly presented the results of Brisbane City Council's Stormwater Data Collection and Modelling Program. Sixty people listened to Tony McAlister (WBM Oceanics Australia) and Brian Bycroft (Brisbane Council Department of Works) . Tony provided the background to the study. Brian explained the concerns about importing out-of-state data. For example, extrapolating runoff export rates from cool climates in Canberra to tropical centres such as Cairns. Three sites were used in the study: two are centred on urban areas with a third control site incorporating Brisbane Forest Park. To date, information is only available from the two urban sites. Samples were not refrigerated and were only analysed for suspended solids, total

nitrogen and total phosphorus at this stage. Both the urban catchments generated very similar load-runoff relationships, particularly for total nitrogen and to a lesser extent, total phosphorus. Data was analysed for these interpretations using event means. A rainfall runoff quality model (AQUALM-XP) was then calibrated using this loading information. It was concluded that annual pollutant loads were higher in Brisbane than for the data derived from other southern studies.

Wetlands Conference Fifty platform papers and 10 poster papers were presented to around 200 delegates (50 more than estimated) at the Wetlands for Water Quality Control national conference in Townsville from 25 to 29 September. The papers covered all areas of water quality control by artificial wetlands including urban, industrial, agricultural, mining and aquacultural effluents. The conference was sponsored by the Land and Water Resources Research Development Corporation (LWRRDC), the National Landcare Program (NLP) and AWWA. Two field days were held. One visited the sewage effluent wetland at Ingham and the Victoria Sugar Mill wetland north of Townsville, and the second visited the LWRRDC pilot wetland at the Burdekin Irrigation Area and the Mt St John's sewage effluent wetlands at Townsville. Operations of these wetlands caused much discussion at the conference, both because of the rapid rate of growth at the wetland, and the allowing of weeds to grow within the wetlands. The opening address was given by the Director of Greening Australia, Winsome Mccaughey, who set the scene for using artificial wetlands in the Australian environment. Keynote addresses were given by Ian Gunn, University of Auckland, Dr David Mitchell, CSIRO/CRC Freshwater Ecology, and Dr John Bavor, University of Western Sydney. Issues that were consistently raised were the efficiency of phosphorus removal, control of weeds and mosquito problems in wetlands. Many conference papers covered these aspects. It was agreed that a further national conference should be held in two years time, probably in Sydney. Copies ,of the conference papers can be ordered through the Department of Primary Industries in Brisbane for $50. Contact Sonja van den Ende, tel (07) 3224 2647, fax (07) 3224 7999. WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996


ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING PROBLEMS WITH STREAM SAMPLING MJ Lichon* Abstract Conditions and variables of environmental monitoring at a Wes tern Tasmanian mine site are discussed. Factors leading to design of a sampling ¡program are examined, as are areas of potential weaknesses. Sites and protocols need to be established for reproducibility. Monitoring of environmental variables in addition to analytes of concern is recommended. The resources put into accurate environmental sampling must be commensurate with the cost of the actual analyses.

Keywords Environmental monitoring, sampling, mining, heavy metals

Introduction One of the weakest aspects of environmental monitoring is sampling. Samples at the case study site were taken from matrices that can be highly inhomogenous over three dimensional space and time {Pitard 1989). The sampling variation of real-world monitoring can be orders of magnitude greater than the analytical error {Lichon 1992). Environmental monitoring has its own set of difficulties and variables {ACS 1983, Keith 1991), especially in the context of the Hellyer Mine site, on the West Coast of Tasmania. Hellyer is an underground mine at which Aberfoyle Resources brings ore to the surface for flotation processing into Zn/Pb concentrates for shipping. Study focus is on effluent treatment for the removal of Pb. The site receives over 2000 mm of rainfall per year, some of which falls as sleet, snow and hail, often at near-horizontal angles with the winds of the 'roaring forties' from the Southern Ocean. Many activities at a mine site have effects on effluent outfall, some less predictable than others in both magnitude, distribution and duration. This paper discusses aspects of the protocols, sampling technique, field operations and consequences, as applied at the Hellyer Mine site.

Nature of the Streams The streams of interest were inhomogenous both spatially and temporally. Vertical variation is to be expected.


An unexpected factor is that the presence of surfactants, both natural and from flotation plants together with light insoluble matter can give rise to surface scums, which tend to attract heavy metals as shown in Table 1. Dissolved matter should logically be uniformly distributed, but in reality interacts with other nonhomogenous components. Colloidal matter is present throughout the depth of the stream, although concentration of interaction with the surfaces of insoluble material forms boundary layers. Colloidal organics and suspended organic matter and clays have metal-binding properties, and tend to concentrate metals by their distribution. The lower portion of the streams tend to concentrate heavy suspended material, both fine matter sinking against diffusion and silt held in suspension by turbulent mixing. The degree of depth differentiation of suspended matter depends upon flowrates and local turbulence . The bedload of the stream consists of coarse matter mobilised downstream by saltation and traction, and is particularly significant during high flows . However, sampling the base of streams is fraught with practical difficulties, and is usually ruled out. The most reproducible sampling depth of -50 mm is thus likely to sample the portion of the stream with the lowest total metal content, and hence underestimate the metals in the whole stream. Horizontal variation results from stream braiding over differing substrates, and the lateral entry of tributary streams of differing composition. Figure 1 illustrates an example of variation across a 5 metre wide stream at one monitoring point. Figure 2 illustrates variation across a 200 mm wide drain. Reproducible results can only be obtained from samples taken at the same position, or preferably below a point of thorough turbulent horizontal and vertical mixing.

Variation Over Time Temporal variations can vary from annual cycles of rainfall dilution, through diurnal changes, to the short term irregular changes resulting from human activity. Significant changes have been monitored over time scales as short as being measured in minutes . Figure 3 illustrates vari-

ations recorded in samples taken at 2-3 day intervals at one site. Temporal variation is due to a myriad of factors : temperature, rainfall events, changes in mill effluent, reworking of tailings dam sediment by braiding streams, dam level fluctuations altering tails aerial exposure, machinery disturbance in the catchment area and so the list goes on.

Sampling and Storage Techniques Sample containers for environmental analysis need to be prewashed with nitric acid and purified water. This is especially so for containers which are usually supplied open, with the lids supplied separately, and in a mining scenario often stored in contaminated environments. This being so, it could be the case that precleaning may not guarantee accuracy. The use of these containers for blank water determinations, while not rigorous, can draw attention to contamination problems. SAA {1986) describes container preparation and sample preservation. At Hellyer, samples were typically taken just below the stream surface, in triplicate: one with no preservatives, filled to the top, for anions and other non-metal assays; one preserved with 10/o nitric acid for total metals; and a third filtered through a 0.45 mm porosity membrane then acidified for 'dissolved' metals. Colour coded lids backed up the labels on bottles. Onsite readings of pH etc. were made at the time of sampling. Samples were typically assayed within a month. Florence {1977) noted that some unacidified samples can be stable over this time if kept cool. However sometimes precipitation has been noted in Hellyer samples in this time interval, which would invalidate some analyses. Field vehicles are generally filthy, with mineral concentrate coating surfaces inside and out. Sample container preparation, filtering operations and dispatch were initially conducted in a room within a drilling core shed. These ,situations were subject to dirt, mud and mineral dust, and undoubtedly contributed to contamination of samples. *Department of Plant Science, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252C Hobart, Tas 7001


Table 1: Pb in samples from a scum-

laden stream Depth

Concentration mg/L

Surface 50mm

3.70 0.65

700 o.o .


( p pm KSO)

t emp ( ~CxSO)

cond ( ÂľS,c0 . 5)

500 Eh ( mVx3 )

400 pH ( xS O )


Pb ( Âľg /LI

Zn ( Âľg/L)

200 +----.---~----~ 0.5


Samp le


l oc a t i on,



m from west ban k

Figure 1: Spatial variation across a

5 m wide stream

Staff Problems Initially monitoring staff purchased technical grade nitric acid for sample preservation. This point was soon detected and rectified by environmental management. At one later point the monitoring staff unilaterally decided to purchase and use 5.0mm filters in the place of the standard 0.45mm filters, because 'it was quicker' to filter the samples. As a significant and variable proportion of suspended matter falls within this filtering range, the assay results for these (non-standard} filtered samples were thus made meaningless, at a not inconsiderable expense. It was several months before this was discovered by the writer and rectified by management. Problems continued with these staff, drawn on a part time basis from geological staff. They were inadequately trained and poorly motivated in respect of their environmental sampling duties. The problems were finally resolved by the use of laboratory staff, with better understanding of the intricacies of environmental sampling, and better motivation to take the necessary care and attention.

Sampling Stations The monitoring program at Hellyer requires the establishment of sampling points (in space} to define the environmental performance over time. It has since been necessary to more rigorously define these sampling points to minimise spatial sampling errors. The principle of defining consistent sampling stations for monitoring changes

over time is described by Tattersall (1986) in reference to defining systematic sampling grids over farm paddocks for monitoring soil fertility. Environmental management had established a number of monitoring locations; but these were found not to be precisely defined sites. Sampling stations were constructed at many of the Hellyer locations to allow consistent spatial sampling. This was found to be particularly necessary where a number of different operators take samples. Stations are now clearly labelled by prominent signposts placed as near as possible to the actual sampling point. In this way there can be little ambiguity as to the position of the sample point and the identification of the sample. The sample containers are either labelled on site, or chosen from a pre-labelled collection and checked against the sign before taking the sample. Construction of stations allows ease of access to the desired sampling point and minimises disturbance and contamination of the sample stream. Approaches to flowing streams are constructed from downstream if possible, so if movement generates turbidity, for example, it does not result in contamination of the sample stream. The construction of a solid landing minimises the disturbance to the site on approach of the operator; bank collapse, vibrational release of silt and gas bubbles are thus minimised. In this case there is also the safety consideration of providing a stable platform to avoid samplers slipping into the deep mire. Proper support is provided for monitoring probes (pH, conductivity etc.) to better




600 1.5






200 + - - - - - - - - - -e ast we st


l ocat i on

0.0 + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - May 1991

Dec 1991

Date of sampling (approx every 3 days)

Figure 2 : Spatial variation across a


Figure 3: Temporal ~ariations ofPb at one site (mg/L)


define the sampling point at optimal flow positions and also to encourage the operator to allow sufficiently long time for stable readings. In this case the operator can position the probe, retreat to the vehicle in foul weather, and observe the slow equilibration reading in comfort. The photograph shows the access to a sample point to a fast flowing river which fluctuates in level. The utilisation of a disused mine plant walkway fulfilled the needs of sample point access and safety considerations. Streamways at several points were subject to crossing by vehicle, with deposition of mine concentrate from the bottom of the vehicles and gross agitation of waters and sediments. Perpetrators included semi-trained samplers on the way to downstream stations! As a result of this study, these points have been barred to vehicular access by means of ¡physical barriers.

Other Monitoring Many factors may have effects on the sampling program, and are best recorded at regular intervals. Unusual events should be noted. This information may not be of immediate significance, but later analysis of results may show important trends. Rainfall and evaporation, for example, change the dilution of wastewaters, and hence toxicity and gross flow volumes. Seasonal and daily temperatures affect reaction rates and biological activity. Weather parameters at Hellyer are monitored at 9 am and 3 pm daily. Flow volumes are monitored at a few sites. This, along with concentration data, is essential to gauge total effluent movements. The gross volumes also indicate likely erosion events and turbidity releases. Other events of singular, intermittent or periodic nature should be noted. At the Hellyer site there may be localised activity and disruption by wildlife, for example, stirring up silt by traversing a channel. Structure collapses, spills, exploration drilling, passage of heavy machinery may all have significant short term effects. The activities of non-mining interests should also be monitored. At Hellyer the electricity authority maintenance crews access high tension lines across the lease. Runoff & spills from railway, sealed highway and numerous unsealed logging roads outside the mining lease flow into the streams of the lease. Fire and clearing of soil cover releases nutrients and silt, with associated changes in local chemistry {Lichen 1993}. The losses of vegetation cover in one catchment in W estem Tasmania after a fire led to massive increases in river flood peaks {Livingstone 1995). Delays in revegetation caused soil erosion, turbid streams and pond sedimentation. One set of monitoring points downstream from the mine compares the catchment waters affected by the mining


activities with a converging stream from undisturbed sources. Unknown to the monitoring authority, the mine or the researchers until after the fact, a forest extraction company constructed a road from the confluence up the side of the dividing ridge to the top, from which the ridgetop and slopes were clearfelled and cable-logged. The road construction and baring of the erodible steep slopes doubtless released turbid waters into both rivers. The exposure of bare ground is likely to result in at least a 200 fold increase of turbidity in water running off this high rainfall area (Lichen 1993}, equating to erosion rates of 100-200 t/Ha/year (Haydon et al 1991}. The massive scale of turbidity release was graphically evident during the heavy downpour of 15/2/93 when rivers turned to brown torrents of slurry. Due to the nature of the terrain, it is not practicable to venture upstream to monitor either of the rivers above the reaches affected by the logging. The integrity of this part of the monitoring program has clearly been compromised. It may well be the case that prior consultation could have avoided this situation. Aquatic faunal distribution is typically adversely affected by mine effluent; particularly metal content, siltation, acidity or sulphate. Local fishermen describe the Que River as barren of trout. Fauna! surveys of the Que River confirm other species are in lower abundance relative to adjacent rivers, though this was also the case before mining commenced, probably due to natural exposure of mineralisation. Even non-metalliferous mining operations have affected stream fauna in Tasmania (Lichen 1993}. Chemical and biological monitoring can best provide useful information when unaffected control sites are similarly monitored. The use of control sites removes the need for gross assumptions as to what baseline to consider as 'normal' or 'natural'. Such sites may need to be protected from visitation access or other disturbances.

Conclusion Care and resources are needed in sampling to make the expense of assays hold purpose in an environmental monitoring programme. Spatial variations in two or three dimensions and temporal v~ations require study, and a regular

sampling program designed appropriately. Stable and reproducible sampling site establishment removes many errors. Procedures to minimise or eliminate sample contamination need to be followed. Apart from sampling for analyte assays, additional monitoring is required of flows, water temperature, weather indices, regular and irregular events of natural and artificial origin. Quality assurance audits should confirm adherence to procedures. Pitard (1989} states that the resources put into environmental sampling should be commensurate with the cost of analysis of the samples to maximise the benefit/cost of monitoring of spatially and temporally inhomogenous environments.

Acknowledgements This work was funded by an Australian Postgraduate Research {Industry} Award, a cooperative arrangement between Aberfoyle Resources, the Commonwealth of Australia, and the Department of Plant Science at the University of Tasmania.

References American Chemical Society {1983), Principles of Environmental Analysis, Anal. Chem, 55, 2210-2218. Florence TM {1977) Trace metal species in fresh waters Water Res. 11, 681-687. Haydon S R, Jayasuriya MDA, and O'Shaughnessy P ]{1991) The effects of vehicle use and road maintenance on erosion from unsealed roads in forests: the road 11 experim ent. MMBW Report W-0018, 85+pp. Keith L H {1991) Environmental Sampling and Analysis: A Practical Guide. Lewis, Chelsea, 143 pp. Lichon MJ {1992) Sample preparation for chromatographic analysis of food. J Chromatogr 624, 3-9 Lichon MJ {1993) Human impacts on processes in karst terranes, with special reference to Tasmania. Cave Science, 20 {2) 55-60. Livingstone A {1995) Hydrological and Engineering Issues associated with draining and restoring Lake Pedder. Symp on Natural History & Restoration of Lake Pedder, Uni of Tas., in press. Pitard F F {1989) Pierre Gy's Sampling Theory and Sampling Practice, CRC Press, Boca Raton, USA, 460pp. Standards Association of Australia, Australian Standard AS 2031.1 -(1986) Selection of containers and preservation of water samples for chemical and microbiological analysis. Part I-Chemical. Tattersall P J {1986) Soil Sampling and analysis a timely overview. Unpublished paper.

Author Michael Lichon commenced his association with environmental heavy metal analysis in 1981. Following his chemistry & geolo[!;j B.Sc.Hons studies at the Univer,sity ofTasmania, he undertook food analysis and research with the Armed Forces Food Science Establishment in northern Tasmania for 6 years. In 1991 he commenced his present Ph.D. applied environment research project. His other research interests lie in the fields ofspeleolo[!;j and biolo[!;j. WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

ENVIRONMENT Water Quality Management On 19 September, at a meeting of the Victorian branch organised by the Environmental and Catchment Management Special Interest Group, Pat Feehan from Goulburn-Murray Rural Water gave an overview of preparing a water quality management strategy. In his talk: 'Sources of Nutrients in the GoulburnBroken Catchments', he explained how a working group of interested stakeholders oversaw the preparation of the GoulburnBroken Catchment strategy. The aim of the strategy was to minimise blue-green algae, water treatment costs and nutrient contribution to the Murray system, foster regional development and enhance the riverine environment. The study used the adaptive environmental assessment model (AEAM) process to derive average nutrient exports for various land uses. Consultants looked at each of the nutrient sources in detail in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment (Issues papers are available from GoulburnMurray Rural Water.) The work done by Hydrotechnology and Water Eco-Science indicated that the annual nutrient contribution from irrigation drainage is likely to increase to 203 tonnes of phosphorus and 820 tonnes of nitrogen as the surface drainage system is extended and the salinity management plan is implemented. On the average, one ha of irrigated perennial pasture contributes 8.6 kg of phosphorus per year. The bulk of the nutrients in the irrigation drains category were from irrigated perennial pastures which generate especially high loads in the summer. CMPS&F looked at diffuse dry land runoff, sewage treatment and urban stormwater runoff. Diffuse dry land runoff covered around three quarters of the catchment and involved many types of land use . In general, relatively low nutrient export rates were observed from the cleared areas of the catchments. In upland parts of the catchment, 900/o of the phosphorus came from forested areas and only 100/o from pasture. The bulk of nutrient loads moved in high flows following heavy rain when control measures are not as effective. The consultants studied the 18 sewage plants within the catchment which discharge to streams. They examined a number of nutrient removal options including land disposal, chemical, and biological processes and concluded that phosphorus levels could be reduced to very low levels, but at a very high cost. However, in some areas, significant reductions could be achieved by applying simple low-cost solutions. WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

The urban stormwater runoff survey looked at local issues and recorded a number of complaints about septic tanks. The general modelling showed that the export loads of nutrients were high in the wet years. The nitrogen rate was proportional to the urbanised area, while the phosphorus export appeared to be related more to the presence or absence of reticulated sewerage. Options to be considered are wetlands and various types of nutrient traps. GH&D looked at intensive animal industries. The main source of nutrients appeared to be from fish farms. The principle source of phosphorus was the phosphate level of the fish food. One management option is to develop low-phosphorus feed for fish farms . The runoff from poultry production was considered negligible. However, a small load from the estimated 138,000 pigs in the catchment indicates a need to revise the code of practice for piggeries. Overall, the water quality study evaluated various options for reducing nutrient export on the basis of the cost per kilogram of phosphorus export prevented per year. The most cost-effective options minimise nutrient discharge from irrigation drainage. The least cost-effective were urban stormwater management projects. Goulburn-Murray Water now has to develop the strategy in consultation with various stakeholders. Kevin Love, Manager of Sustainable Development at Victoria's Department of Agriculture, spoke about water quality and farm management issues. Kevin outlined the challenge for Victoria's food and agriculture industries: maintaining productivity by providing optimum levels of nutrients and water for plant growth, while minimising the adverse effects on surface and ground water. He discussed the effect of rainfall and soil type on nutrient export from agricultural activities and the average variations between 0.1 kg/hectare/year of phosphorus in a normal year, rising to 0.2 kg/ hectare/year in a flood. Kevin explained that the cost of achieving the aims of the department's Sustainable Development Program (to protect Victoria's agricultural resources and enhance their long-term productivity) would be beyond government and must be done by the private sector. However, to encourage private investors, there must be a clear dollar return. The program aims to develop best management practices for the agriculture industry. In particular, it targets soil erosion, fertiliser runoff, dairy shed waste and stream bank erosion as the major areas requiring action to minimise nutrient export. The program is most effective

if it is part of a whole farm management plan. He also stressed the value of "Farm$mart", which provides property management training for landowners.

Algal Grazing Dr Martin Sholten, Head of the Department of Ecological Risk Studies, The Netherlands, gave a talk on 'Algal Grazing: An Underestimated Factor in the Valuation of Nutrification Problems'. Prolific algal density in a water body creates a range of well known problems. In a healthy system, the phosphorus, microclgae, zooplankton and higher levels are all in balance. Dr Scholten claimed that although excessive nutrients can generate enhanced algal production, it may be an ineffective zooplankton response that allows unrestrained growth of biomass. Using Chlorophyll A concentrations as a measure of the total algal biomass, he presented data which showed that in water bodies with total phosphorus levels of up to 1 mg/1, low Chlorophyll A levels were recorded where there were high concentrations of daphnia (water fleas) . However, in the water bodies with low daphnia concentrations, much higher Chlorophyll A levels were recorded. Although zooplankton populations depend upon the level of suitable food, Dr Scholten suggested their numbers are adversely effected by: • high suspended solids • heavy predation (especially a shift away from large fish to smaller species) • toxic loads (eg pesticides) • inedible algae (such as the clumping of cells into colonies). In controlled experiments, algal blooms had been introduced simply by adding toxicants that inhibited zooplankton. A study of two lakes in north-east Holland showed rapid algal growth in early spring which proceeded to dominance of blue-greens in one lake which had industrial inputs but fell away in early summer in the other lake. Studies on lakes with similar phosphorus levels, showed the Chlorophyll A levels could be correlated with zooplankton activity. He concluded that often eutrophication may be the result of an imbalance between algal production and zooplankton grazing. In his opinion, the community should reconsider the effectiveness of our current management option (based solely on reducing phosphorus concentrations) and look at strategies that optimise the health of the aquatic ecosystems, in favour of zooplankton, biodiversity and stability of sediments. (For copies of his paper, contact Myra Wilson on tel (053) 203 198.)



WATER TRADING IN VICTORIA: POSSIBLE CONTROLS J McMullan* Summary This paper is a lawyer's view on the necessity for controls to be implemented in respect of the trading of water rights in Victoria as envisaged under the Water Act 1989 (and the amendments to that Act up to and including the Water (Amendment) Act 1995), and suggests a number of protections which might be included in that Act. The new legislative regime should, it will be submitted, incorporate a number of protections/ restrictions to control the trading of water rights, including: • statutory guidelines as to the refusal or approval of water transfers • possible public participation in the water market to influence the commodity price without affecting the commercial operation of the market • the introduction of a water market regulator created for the sole purpose of refusing or approving transfers • a mechanism for compulsory acquisition of water rights • a mechanism for reserving rights for future public use {subject to payment of compensation where necessary).

Introduction Water trading as a mechanism for increasing the efficiency of the use of water resources is being implemented in Victoria (Stringer, 1995) (Bjornlund 1995). Similar actions have been undertaken in the USA and discussed by a number of authors (eg. Milliman, 1959, onwards). These papers suggest a series of issues which will be relevant to the new water trading regime which is being introduced into the Victorian water industry. This paper considers:• the original aims of the Victorian government in introducing water trading • control issues relevant to water trading in Victoria • possible control mechanisms which might be adopted in conjunction with water trading in Victoria.

Original Aims In its original statement issued by the Victorian Government (Office of State Owned Enterprises, 1993) water trading was proposed as a mechanism which would bring benefits to the water industry driven by 'competitive forces' . The government suggested, in that statement, that


one of the 'international lessons' learnt from water reform undertaken in the USA, UK, France, Eastern Europe and Southern and Central America included mechanisms for reallocating water, for example water trading. The report set out the proposed role of government as follows : • 'The primary role of government is to convert existing rights to water to bulk entitlements and then set up and encourage the development of water trading. Government will be required to provide a light regulatory hand.' {emphasis added) There was, however, a general caveat as follows :• 'Water trading will be voluntary and available on a temporary or permanent basis and trading will be determined by agreement between the buyer and seller in the market place. It will not be subject to government intervention, although there will be some rules to ensure the integrity of the market.' Accordingly, the government's aim was to bring efficiency to the water sector through a largely unregulated private market. Any controls were intended only to ensure the 'integrity' of the market. David Stringer, the then Director of the Office of Water Reform (now restructured as the Water Bureau) introduced his paper (Stringer 1995) with the following: 'There is a major potential for 'finding new water' for high value use without building financially and environmentally costly new dams. This is by re-allocation, not by bureaucratic edict, but by the use of market mechanisms.' There are theoretical benefits of water trading as a mechanism for water resource allocation asserted by the Victorian government, and by other commentators, including:-

Re-Allocation of Existing Unused Resources. Water trading is said to effectively unlock water held within existing regional water areas, and/ or irrigation holdings. The mechanism effectively makes available water which, in the absence of watertrading, would remain unused in those holdings, though better use could be made of that water. The ability to re-allocate water within Victoria is the primary benefit implied in the phrase: 'finding new water'. Highest and Best Use. The allocation of water resources by a government

body and/ or a regional authority does not necessarily direct water to its highest and best use. For example, there may be political constraints (eg. between respective state governments, or between water allocated to ameliorate salinity problems versus the same water directed to irrigation). The linking of the re-allocation to an open market mechanism is likely, it is asserted, to result in water eventually being allocated to that use which represents the highest economic return. In this sense, the introduction of water trading is certain, in time, to result in water migrating from its present use, whatever that may be, to, ultimately, its highest and best use ... in economic terms. Breaking Jurisdictional Restrictions.

The ability to buy and sell water on the open market has the effect of breaking the previous connection between water resources and particular water authority jurisdictions. For example, there is a natural tendency for individual authorities to prefer to retain water presently within their geographical boundaries on the basis that, though their present needs may be catered for, there may, in the future, say in different climatic conditions, be a need to provide for increased requirements. Similarly, distribution of water across interstate boundaries has historically been driven by political considerations rather than economic or physical issues. The outcome, therefore, of the present legislative regime has been that water will usually be retained within the jurisdictional boundaries of regional water authorities rather than being redirected to the physically best suited or economically best suited uses. Illogical results can occur where water systems are based on administrative ease rather than economic efficiency. For example, a Victorian Department of Conservation report {1991) cites an instance where pipelines from separate water sources cross on their way to two rural towns. Encouraging Commercial Investment. The ability to secure water

sources, on the open market, is likely to encourage long-term investment in commercial infrastructure dependent upon such water availability. For example, Stringer {1995) pointed to recent water auctions by the Rural Water Corporation *Chambers & Co. Level 43, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne 3000


of private irrigation development {diversion} licences along the Murray which were 'snapped up by big export-oriented viticulturalists'. There are, therefore, a number of phenomena which would arise if water trading were introduced in Victoria which would have obvious beneficial effects. In contrast, however, there are a number of disbenefits which might occur in the absence of adequate controls incorporated within the legislation. For example, regional water authorities could conceivably be pressured into balancing their books by selling water which might otherwise be diverted to uneconomic though necessary uses such as environmental protection, salinity control, recreational water. These issues are, in fact, the subject matter of the numerous factors to be 'con. sidered' by the Minister in approving or refusing transfers, outlined in Section 40 of the Act. In summary, therefore, the government's original aims seem to have been, in respect of water trading, as follows: • to extend water trading in Victoria {previously limited to irrigators in respect of irrigation water rights} , to trading between regional water authorities in respect of bulk entitlements in the hope that, through such market mechanisms, water will be re-allocated from those who presently hold water ri~hts (including regional water authorities) to those who will be able to put that water to its highest and best use (upon payment of the market price} • to keep government intervention in the market to a minimum • to ensure competition within the water industry in Victoria • to reduce or defer the need for infrastructure investment in the development of water resources.

Control Issues Future Needs. The need to provide for future requirements recurs in discussions of the benefits of water trading by several USA and Australian commentators on water trading, dating back to the 1950s. Milliman {1959} concluded that blanket reservations do not serve to promote the efficient use of water resources. He suggested that where there was such a 'blanket reservation' of water for future needs, it might be possible to provide for some adjudication or quantification of those open-ended rights so that although an authority might prefer to reserve water rights for its future needs, at least the real cost of doing this would be apparent from the income foregone by not selling those water rights. Trelease (1965} noted the unease which might arise where future public needs are affected by private users of water, but ultimately concluded that, subject to issues of payment of compensation, trade may still be preferable. Chan WATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

(1989} commented that pure market driven mechanisms do not make adequate provision for future human needs. Dragun & Gleeson (1989} noted the conflict between the rights of existing licence holders of irrigation water (under the New South Wales legislation}, and the ability to issue future water licences. With respect, these commentators were right to be uneasy about introducing a pure market-based system of water trade in the absence of controls over future water needs. Indeed, though the Victorian government has indicated that it would rely on a light-handed regulatory approach, it has always indicated there would nevertheless be some controls. Any system of trad~ in water rights should, for the benefit of the community, involve some control mechanism which can adequately have regard to future requirements . The mere abrogation of future requirements by leaving such issues 'to the market' is likely to result in a failure to deliver such water as is necessary from time to time for future community needs. Effeds on Other Users. A second issue connected with a pure market-driven system is the effect that a particular transfer might have on other users (not themselves parties to the particular transaction}. Milliman (1959} made the point that what he described as 'third party spillover rights' are essentially issues of economics. Trelease {1965} preferred to regard harm to a third party as a pre-condition to any allocation system based on benefit-cost analysis. It seems that Trelease, like Milliman, saw the issue of detrimental effect on third parties as primarily an economic question. Both considered that detriment to others should, at least, be taken into account by the water resource allocation system. Johnson, Gisser and Werner {1981} in considering mathematical models for analysis of the effect of return flows and the rights of third party users} concluded: 'efficient transfer is facilitated when water rights are defined in terms of consumptive use coupled with protection for local third-party impairment. It is submitted that whatever system of water allocation is adopted by a community, the general aim of the community is, inter alia, to include notions of collective benefit, and not to promote a system of high benefit for some, low benefit for others, irrespective of the efficiency/ community good which may result from such a preferential system. ' Any system of water trading in Victoria should therefore incorporate protections to prevent detrimental effects to third parties (though such protection might merely involve the financial compensation of those third parties, rather than prevention of the water transfers}. Private Aims versus Community

Goals. Chan {1989} questioned the use of the phrase 'efficiency' as a complete guide to what is being pursued by the community in considering various water allocation systems. Chan, in relation to New Mexico, concluded that certain costs arising out of water trading should be included in the equation to determine the efficiency of market allocation. Such costs might include, for example, the 'costs' of unemployment, effects on individuals and society, financially, psychically, and socially. Nevertheless, Chan concluded that the competitive market may still be the correct mechanism to adopt subject to community involvement. This seems a potentially strong criticism of 'efficiency' per se as the sole reason for introducing water trading in Victoria. On examination, however, Chan was doing no more than noting that protections need to be incorporated into water trading if community interest issues are to be catered for. The market mechanism is not defective so long as appropriate protection mechanisms necessary to achieve such community goals as may be identified from time to time are incorporated. Maximising Benefit. The commentators have always agreed on one issue in relation to water trading, namely that the overall reason for adopting such a system is to 'maximise' the potential benefits to the community of the community's water resources. Trelease {1965}, however, identified difficulties in reliance on the market mechanism to achieve optimum results: • in some instances there is not a sufficient market to operate efficiently in producing an optimal result • many demands for water use have no dollar value {eg. saving of human life, protection of health, recreation, etc.} • some interests are so dispersed through society that there are no effective means for them to compete on the market (for example, particular recreational uses} • the absence of bidders for future uses • the market for water may be so dominated by existing rights holders that competition breaks down • people do not always act rationally within a market. These factors again suggest that a pure (uncontrolled?} market mechanism is inadequate in the absence of some degree of public intervention. The maximisation of benefit to the community is the driving force in choosing to move towards a free market mechanism for the allocation of water resources. The characteristics of a pote·n tial market in water resources, however, suggests that public intervention/ protection mechanisms, again, should be incorporated into any such system. Intangible Benefits. By definition, water trading makes no allowance for intangible benefits such as recreation and


environmental protection. Trelease (1965} listed a number of such examples including: • lives saved by flood control projects • strengthened national defence • control of cyclic depressions by public works programs • recreation industries • wilderness areas. Each of these matters will be difficult to cater for under a pure market mechanism. Firstly, it would be difficult to find a particular user to purchase those rights. Secondly, even if there were such a purchaser it would be difficult to allocate a value to such rights. Some commentators suggest that such rights ought to be at least valued, so that the community understands their real . economic worth before deciding that they should be retained. This is not to say, necessarily, that the highest value should always be preferred, but at least the community would be aware of the foregone economic benefit in preserving such intangible values. (See Brotsky & Grey, 1994}. In fact, though a degree of preservation of intangible values should and is likely to be incorporated in any water allocation resource system, the discipline of understanding the economic benefit foregone in maintaining such intangibles when making such decisions is a worthwhile justification in itself to prefer a market based system.

Possible Control Mechanisms There are numerous possible control mechanisms, therefore, based on the above, which might be incorporated into the Water Act at the time of implementing the market in bulk entitlements (and, in fact, which might be equally incorporated into the existing sales of irrigation water rights presently occurring in Victoria}. Those mechanisms might include any or all of the following: Requirement for Approval of Transfer. The legislation presently requires all transfers to be approved either by the Minister (in respect of the transfer of bulk entitlements between authorities} or by the regional water authorities (in respect of irrigators' water rights}. This mechanism should be maintained, however it should not be left in its present ill-defined form. At present, a Minister in deciding whether or not to approve a transfer of bulk entitlements is given little guidance as to which matters should be given priority. The factors listed in 'Section 40' are broad to the point of being unhelpful (either to a Minister or prospective transferors or transferees}. There is currently no obligation on a Minister to take any or all of those factors into account, merely an entitlement to take the factors into account. With respect, it is hard to imag-


ine any matter which would not fit within one or more of those factors . The difficulty for a Minister, therefore , is that he still does not know the answer to the fundamental question, namely whether he should take a strong interventionist approach to give effect to some of the values referred to above, or alternatively whether he should adopt the 'light regulatory hand' foreshadowed in the early Victorian government statements foreshadowing the implementation of water trading in Victoria. Having regard to the matters considered above, and in particular to the publicly-stated wish of the Victorian government to adopt a 'light regulatory hand' to 'ensure the true market operation' of water trading in Victoria, the Minister should perhaps presume that transfers generally ought to be approved unless there is a strong reason to refuse the approval and the particular difficulty cannot be overcome by the adequate payment of money compensation by the transferee and/ or the transferor. Such detrimental factors might include: • a need to preserve water storages for future use (though, for the reasons referred to below, perhaps such broad grounds should not be left to Ministerial whim, but rather to formal systems of 'reserving' particular future water resources for 'public purposes', with consequent entitlements to compensation}; • detrimental effects to other users (not able to be remedied by the payment of compensation} • inconsistency with a 'seriously entertained' government policy; • where the proposed transfer would be contrary to the 'public interest'. The phrase 'seriously entertained' is borrowed from planning law, to distinguish between policies which are not yet wholly formulated, and policies which are either formally adopted or very close. 'Public Interest' is also borrowed from planning law. Where a planning permit is refused on these grounds, there is a statutory right to compensation. Where the Minister refused to approve a transfer, for example, the transferor could be entitled to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in respect of that refusal. Such a regime would have the advantage of being analogous to that which is presently in place in Victorian planning law, including the necessary administrative bodies and procedural legislation to deal with issues of appeal and/ or compensation. Public Participation in the Market. The government could choose, either through a newly created body for that purpose or through the Water Bureau or some other existing body, to buy and sell water on the open market for the purpose of affecting the price, as it saw fit from time to time. In this respect,

the purchasing body would be analogous to similar bodies operating in the wheat market, wool market and other existing commodity markets. Through this mechanism, the government could, if it chose from time to time, influence the water price on the open market yet at the same time preserve the integrity of the market. Existing Competition Legislation. The market in water would, without further legislative amendment, probably be subject in any event to the normal legislative regimes affecting competition. In this respect, the Trade Practices Act (Cth} would apply and, accordingly, the Trade Practices Commission, and in time, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, would be able to exercise jurisdiction within the water market, as in any other market. It is a matter for debate whether the water industry should be subject to this control like any other industry or whether it should have an industry-specific body. Water Body Regulator. The government could create, as occurs in other industries, a body to regulate, inter alia, the market and give to that regulatory body the ability to refuse or approve transfers (the power presently within the Minister's jurisdiction}. There are reasons why this may be more attractive than the present legislative arrangements including: • the new regulatory body would be independent of political pressures • an industry-specific body may be able to bring particular expertise to bear on the market (though for the reasons thrown up in the recent telecommunications debate, this could also be self-defeating} • that body's decision would be more easily able to be reviewed by, say, an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (if this were ultimately thought to be desirable} than, perhaps, a decision of the Minister. It should be said that there are counterarguments against the creation of such a new regulatory body, including:• another bureaucratic institution being created (though perhaps the present Water Bureau could fulfil this role at minimal extra cost?} • water market decisions would be in the hands of bureaucrats (with little knowledge of or perhaps commitment to, free market administration, and potentially a preference for the non-economic parts of the water industry, for example, recreation, environment, power needs, etc. } • the creation of an independent body would remove the decision-making power over proposed transfers from the Minister and subject the Minister to unnecessarily complex procedures. On balance the existence of a market regulator, with responsibility to approve or refuse water transfers as between regional water authorities and/ or irrigaWATER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1996

tors, may be beneficial. In fact, the necessary expertise possibly already exists within the Water Bureau (formerly the Office of Water Resources). Compulsory Acquisition. Irrespective of any other reform, it is essential that government retains a right to compulsorily acquire water rights. One could imagine future projects which would require the clawing back from regional water authorities and/or private irrigators of water rights. On one view, it might be said that the government should be able to simply take such rights as it desired. This view, it is submitted, is unrealistic. The effect of such a regime would be to remove confidence in the water market and discourage any substantial commercial/private investment in infrastructure based on the acquisition of water rights on the open market. As presently occurs with relation to land acquisition, the correct approach would be to introduce a regime of comJ?ulsory acquisition and compensation (akin to the existing procedures set out in the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 7976-J. Perhaps that legislation could be extended to include water rights? Reservation of Certain Water Rights. From time to time, it may be appropriate for certain water rights, though not presently required, to be 'reserved' for future possible public use. In those circumstances, as occurs in relation to the reservation of land for future purposes under planning schemes, bulk water entitlements could still be traded provided that the proposed trade/use was not inconsistent with that reservation. (In tum, certain compensation effects would arise from that reservation.) In this respect, again, there are parallels to the present planning and compulsory acquisition legislation in Victoria.

Conclusion On balance, therefore, it is submitted that the water trading regime in the process of being implemented in Victoria should include a number of control mechanisms to give effect to the necessary restrictions on such a market, yet at the same time preserve the commercial operation of that market.The new trading regime should incorporate a number of protections /restrictions including: • statutory guidelines as to the refusal or approval of water transfers • possible public participation in the water market to influence the commodity price without affecting the commercial operation of the market • the introduction of a water market regulator • a mechanism for compulsory acquisition of water rights • a mechanism for reserving rights for future public use {subject to payment of compensation where necessary.


New WSAA Chairman

Brotsky J, Grey F E (1994) The economics of wilderness areas. Water 21. 5: 31 Bjornlund H, McKay J (1995) Can water trading achieve environmental goals? Water 22 (6) Chan A H (1989) To market or not to market: Allocating water rights in New Mexico. Natural Resourcesjnl 29. :629. Department of Conservation & Environment (1991) Water Victoria: The Next 100 Years, Melbourne. Dragun AK, Gleeson V (1989) From water law to transferability in New South Wales Natural Resourcesjnl. 29 : 645 Johnson RN, Gisser M, Werner M (1981) The definition of surface water right and transferability Jnl. Law and Economics 14 :273. Milliman] W (1959) Water law and private decision-making: A critique.jnl Law & Economics 41 :445. Office of State Owned Enterprises, Victoria (1993) ' Reforming Victoria's water industry: A competitive future ' Department of the Treasury, Melbourne. Stringer D (1995) Water markets and trading developments in Victoria Water 22,1 :11 Trealease F J (1965) Policies for water law: Property rights, economic forces and public regulations. Natural Resourcesjnl. 5: 34.

Dr Mike Sargent, Chief Executive Officer of ACTEW is the new Chairman of the Board for the Water Services Association of Australia r,NSAA). Mike is also the WSAA representative on the Federal Council of AWWA. At the recent AGM, Paul Broad of Sydney Water stepped down as the the association's inaugural chairman. Other members of the new board are Russell Cooper of South East Water, Paul Broad of Sydney Water,John Morgan of Melbourne Water, Garry Law of Brisbane City Council, David Evans of the Hunter Water Corporation, Jim Gill from the Water Authority of Western Australia and Ted Phipps from the South Australia Water Corporation. Coliban Water, Barwon Water and Gold Coast City Council were admitted as new association members. When WSAA was incorporated, it replaced the Major Urban Water Authorities of Australia which had existed since the 1920s. The Chief Executive Officer, Dr John Langford, has established an office in Melbourne. The Urban Water Research Association, the research arm of WSAA, has a new focus supporting strategic research. AWWA congratulates the new board and chairman of WSAA and looks forward to continued cooperation on issues affecting the industry.

Author John McMullan gained his first degree, B. Eng, from Melbourne University in 7976 then switched to I.aw. He commenced practice as a solicitor in 7983 and specialises in matters rel.ating to engineering and the environment.

Environmental Engineering Professor, tenurable, Nathan Campus The University is seeking to appoint a Professor of Environmental Engineering within the Faculty of Environmental Sciences located at its Nathan Campus. This position was the first dedicated Chair in Environmental Engineering in Australia and was first held by the late Professor Phillip Jones. The appointee will provide effective leadership in relation to undergraduate and graduate programs , curriculum development , the promotion and expansion of applied research , and establi shing strong University-industry relationships. The appointee would be expected to undertake the duties of Head of School from time to time. Applicants should have a distinguished academic and professional engineering background in one or more of the broad areas of urban catchments, water quality, air quality, pollution prevention , site rehabilitation and remediation and environmental assessment and risk management. App li cants should also possess a PhD or eq uivalent in a relevant engineering area , a distinguished international record of research and publication , administrative and management competence and a strong commitment to the development and maintenance of high quality education . Candidates must be eligible for registration as professional engineers in Australia.

Remuneration: $80,176 per annum . Applicants for this position should be aware that the University may at any time transfer you from the Nathan campus to another campus within the Brisbane/Logan area.

Information package: Ms Sandy Smith , Faculty of Environmental Sciences, telephone (07) 3875 7360, facsimile (07) 3875 5282 . Further information : Dr Rodger Tomlinson , Head , School of Environmental Engineering , telephone (07) 3875 7486, facsimi le (07) 3875 6717 or email R.Tom linson @ens.gu .edu.au Applications close 31 January 1996. AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER