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Onewater advocates

OWA Website 1

Advocating for the alignment of urban water policy with credible science and technical capability.

OneWater Advocates is an independent body of experienced water leaders and practitioners, concerned that Australia is falling behind in realising the sustainable use of its water resources through lack of political, technical and social leadership. The group’s aim, by speaking out, is to ‘encourage a positive and unified national consensus for innovative management of water’, one that is based on a thorough and transparent consideration of all supply options.

OneWater Advocates has a multi-disciplinary make-up amongst its membership of senior and experienced water industry leaders – academia, governance, technical, operations, financial, management, policy and environmental covering NSW, WA, VIC, SA and QLD.

Why did the group come about?

OneWater Advocates believe there is no place for policy bans on various water supply options. Australia currently has policy bans in place in VIC and SA preventing open and transparent consideration of an option that is now finding widespread application overseas – namely water recycling for drinking. This position is at odds with other Australian jurisdictions, for instance, the successful uptake of water recycling for drinking in Perth, WA and its potential implementation on a large scale in Brisbane, QLD. We believe this position is due solely to a lack of informed political leadership.

All members believe there is a need for a strong advocacy group, independent of governments, big water utilities and regulators, that provides a trusted source of unbiased comment and guidance for our politicians, their advisors and the media.

Why is this important?

Rational and timely decisions which take into account all potential options will result in solutions that are less costly and more sustainable than hasty decisions forced by desperation – our current situation. The days of the ‘quick-fix’ are over!

Water supply systems in the future cities and towns of Australia will require a portfolio of water sources and the use of different grades of water for different purposes. This approach needs careful, thoughtful, fact-based regulation of water systems, not reactive, ad hoc policy decisions.

Western Australia is a great example where, since 2000, an evidenced-based strategy has resulted in effective use of surface water, groundwater, stormwater, seawater desalination and water recycling for drinking.

What is Onewater advocates seeking to achieve?

Our Mission is to encourage a positive and unified national consensus for innovative management of water.

OneWater Advocates urges all levels of government to consider the full range of options available for securing a sustainable mix of future water supply options – there cannot be any policy bans in place and all assessments must be carried out in a transparent way.

Our first objective is to have the policy bans in VIC and SA publicly lifted. Following this, our aim will be to ensure that there is a process for open and transparent evaluation of all options for the future water supplies. This process must be adaptable and suitable across geographic and demographic contexts. Seawater desalination is not a feasible option for inland communities or for inland suburbs of large sprawling cities.

Water recycling, in all its forms, must be considered when assessing the most sustainable long-term solution, not only for our large metropolitan areas but also for our smaller regional centres where water security is already a serious issue.

Now is the time to start this planning and evaluation process – we must not wait until the dams become dry!