Water Stewardship Australia January 2015 Newsletter
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Watson Creek project video launch and funding 

About 50 people attended the launch by WSA of a new video that describes the Watson Creek project on the Mornington Peninsula (Victoria) being undertaken in partnership with the Western Port Biosphere.  The three-year project will tackle water issues associated with what has been described as one of Victoria’s dirtiest creeks.  At the launch, it was announced that the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust would provide funding for the project over three years.  Inghams Enterprises, Melbourne Water, South East Water, Port Phillip and Western Port CMA, Parks Victoria and Mornington Peninsula Shire are also supporting the project.  The video explains the goals of the project and the aspirations of some of the participants.  While the initial focus for the project is Watson Creek it is intended that it will broaden over time to include all waterways in the Biosphere region.  WSA is grateful to Ernst & Young for hosting the launch event.

NWC Commissioner congratulates WSA, stresses need for leadership

At the launch event, WSA took the opportunity to thank the National Water Commission (NWC) for its support over the past eight years.  As NWC Commissioner, Professor Jane Doolan spoke; legislation to implement the Budget decision to wind up the NWC was being debated in the Senate (it didn’t pass but will be re-introduced in February).  Professor Doolan said that while government priorities change, the need for leadership on water management issues would continue and encouraged the private sector and state governments to fill any gaps that may emerge through the abolition of the NWC.  She congratulated WSA on its achievements over the past eight years and stressed the importance of water stewardship in providing leadership and a focus for good water management.  A video of Professor Doolan’s comments is available here

Communication key – former Environmental Commissioner 

Former Victorian Environmental Sustainability Commissioner Kate Auty said communication about collaboration and leadership on environmental management systems was a key to achieving success.  She said that through communication people and business could be connected around common goals and their efforts acknowledged and rewarded.  Stories about projects, such as the Watson Creek Western Port Biosphere project, would provide recognition to all the participants as well as provide leadership for others tackling similar issues in their local communities.  Kate’s comments are available here.

Business can play a constructive collaborative role 

Responding to Professor Doolan’s comments, Inghams Enterprises’ Sustainability Manager and WSA Deputy Chair Julia Seddon, said the Western Port project had the potential to be pivotal in demonstrating how business could play a collaborative role in catchment health.  Julia Seddon’s comments are available here. She congratulated the team at Ingham’s Somerville plant for having the foresight to embark on the project and looked forward to seeing its success.

Western Port project has broad potential 

In her comments at the launch, Western Port Biosphere Foundation Executive Officer Cecelia Witton said the project had potential to not only contribute to solving problems associated with the State’s ‘dirtiest creek’ but to be applied in other waterways and other areas to solve water related issues.  She also stressed the complementary nature of the Biosphere’s goals and the goals of water stewardship.  Cecelia’s comments are available here.

New Zealand Foundation Training program 

WSA Executive Secretary Michael Spencer and consultant Kevin O’Grady will deliver the AWS Foundation Training in Christchurch New Zealand on 4 February.  The initiative is in response to a request from Waitaki irrigators and has attracted interest from two regional councils as well as traditional owners.  WSA is considering holding a second course in Auckland in response to interest from agribusiness in that region.  Further details about the course are available from the WSA website.  Bookings can be made directly through Trybooking or with Megan McLeod at WSA.

Prof. Barry Hart joins WSA Board 

Distinguished water scientist Emeritus Professor Barry Hart (AM) has joined the Board of Water Stewardship Australia.  Based in Echuca on the Murray River, Professor Hart had a distinguished career at Monash University before retiring in 2003 and establishing the consulting firm Water Science Pty Ltd.  He is highly respected for his work on water quality, environmental risk assessment, environmental chemistry and Bayesian Network modelling.  In 2003 he received a Centenary Medal for services to water quality management and environmental protection.  He is a Board Member of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, has published 170 refereed papers and 12 books.  He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2012.  Professor Hart will replace Andy Roberts who was not able to continue on the Board due to heavy work commitments as CEO of the Water Industry Alliance in Adelaide.

Secretary schedule 

December was a busy time for WSA with the end of year Progress Report and Film Launch at Ernst & Young coming immediately after a three-state speaking tour with the Australian Water Association on Water-Energy-Food Nexus.  In the week prior to Christmas WSA Secretary co-presented the AWS Foundation Training Program in Delhi (India) with AWS and the Centre for Responsible Business.  Next week WSA Secretary is one of 300 people invited to participate in a United Nations conference: Water and Sustainable Development – from vision to action.  The Conference will focus on how to bring the post-2015 sustainable development agenda into action with particular focus on tools for implementation.  The Conference also serves as a preparatory meeting for World Water Day.  The following week WSA Secretary will be a special guest of Green Zhejiang’s at their annual ceremony for Our Water, Our Action in Hangzhou (China).  He will discuss a number of water stewardship projects in China.  Later that week he will speak at an ISEAL Alliance Water Salon in Beijing that is expected to be attended by a number of Chinese government officials.

Euroa talks 

While international collaboration on water is important, the most important action in local collaboration between business, government and the community.  This is a central focus of the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard.  With this in mind, WSA is always delighted to accept invitations to talk about its work with local community groups.  On May 30 WSA will participate in a half-day workshop on water management and environmental flows in Euroa (Victoria) organised by Strathbogie Voices.  The forum is part of a year-long series of workshops organised by the community to talk about important environmental issues particularly in the lead-up to the Paris climate change conference.  A full run-down of events for 2015 is available from the Strathbogie Voices website.

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