Strengthening Basin Communities

This Project is an outcome of funding received from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities for the Planning Component under the Strengthening Basin Communities initiative.

This is a consortium project which recognises that many of councils in the REROC region have not had the opportunity to explore the real impacts of climate change and as a consequence a future with less water on the operations of councils. It will consider climate change impacts on a regional and sub-regional basis and will produce LGA specific plans, including recommendations as to the possible solutions that can be implemented.

The project is to be delivered in three stages:

  1. Identifying and mapping the water security impacts of climate change across the participating LGAs to build a regional picture
  2. Identifying and mapping water dependent industries across the participating LGAs to build a regional resource; and
  3. Preparation of plans and policies that are specific to each participating LGA in the following operational areas:
    a) Infrastructure and asset management planning; and
    b) development strategies and landuse planning

AECOM were engaged to carry out Stages 1 and 2 and have now delivered the following reports:

STAGE 1

Stage 1 Report - Climate and Water Resources (Part1)
Stage 1 Report - Climate and Water Resources (Part2)

The Stage 1 Report summarises the salient information contained in the following two detailed technical papers:

Weather and Climate Discussion Paper (provided to Councils in January 2011)
Water Resources and Consumption - Discussion Paper 2

The Stage 1 Report provides an overview of climate in the REROC area. An overview of the context of the climate change assessment is provided, along with a description of AECOM's approach. Current climate observations are made on a regional and local level, and climate predictions summarised at a REROC scale.
The water resources available and their management frameworks are described. An assessment of how climate change is expected to impact runoff in the region is also provided. The region’s urban and non-urban water consumption is assessed at an LGA scale, with a high level assessment of the type of use also provided.

A greater level of information on the background, methodology and results of climate and water assessments at both a regional and Local Government Area (LGA) scale may be found in the above mentioned reports.

 

STAGE 2

Stage 2 Report - Industry Water Use, Vulnerability and Adaptation

The Stage 2 Report summarises the salient information contained in the following three detailed technical papers:

Business and Industry Water Consumption - Discussion Paper 3
Potential Impacts of Reduced Water Availability - Discsussion Paper 4
Water Saving Initiatives - Discussion Paper 5

The Stage 2 Report provides an overview of the social and economic factors that are present within the REROC area. An overview of the general issues facing the region from an economic, environmental and social perspective is presented. Seperate to questions of water availability, the three most important issues affecting REROC as a regional Australian area are global commodity prices, technological innovation and changing consumer preferences.

A summary of some of the key industries operating within the REROC region is presented. The summary focuses on describing important aspects of each industry, with a particular focus on water usage, and water quality and quantity requirements. Elements of best practice within each industry are canvassed as a means of presenting potential areas for improvement.

Future scenarios are that may affect the region, or specific industries are considered. These scenarios encompass reductions in rainfall, increased drought frequency and climate variability, and reductions in water allocations. Individually and collectively these scenarios represent real possibilities for the region, and in some cases identify specific geographic, or industry vulnerabilities. In other cases, these scenarios can indicate potential increases in output and employment, with increased investment. A summary of the economic implications of less water availability in the REROC region is provided.

In response to the adaptation needs identified from the scenario modelling process, a number of adaptation actions are put forward. These include industry specific adaptation actions, broader scale awareness actions, and legislative and policy responses. For each action, a detailed description, and implementation summary is provided.

A greater level of information on the background, methodology and results of climate and water assessments at both a regional and Local Government Area (LGA) scale can be found in the abovementioned discussion papers.

STAGE 3

The information obtained in the first two stages of the project was used to develop individual plans for each LGA. The plans specifically identify the issues and challenges that each LGA is likely to face and makes recommendations as to possible solutions that can be implemented. AECOM were once again engaged to develop the following in consultation with each Council:

  1. Infrastructure and asset management planning

Councils recognise that its most tangible response to a world with less water will be in the manner in which it plans for infrastructure and assets. The participating councils have identified concerns about the ability of council infrastructure, particularly buried infrastructure, to deal with the severe weather events that are anticipated as a result of climate change. It is expected that this stage of the project will address these concerns.

In this part of the project individual plans were developed for each LGA that address:

  1. the issues and challenges to be faced by the LGA as a result of climate change
  2. infrastructure needs to meet those issues and challenges;
  3. recommendations on policies and procedures that should be implemented by councils to address a world with less water;
  4. water saving initiatives that can assist council to meet its forecasted water needs;
  5. suggested works schedules and costings.
  6. identification and development of strategies and actions that are best implemented on a regional basis.
  1. Development strategies and landuse planning

Water planning should inform and integrate with land use planning. The participating councils recognise that water planning should precede land use planning; identifying resource opportunities, constraints and incompatible land use activities. In this part of the project LGA specific plans were prepared that address the following:

  1. the issues and challenges to be faced by the LGA;
  2. examination of council’s current landuse planning strategies and proposed developments to determine their compatibility with forecasted water availability;
  3. identification of mis-matches between proposed landuse planning and development and water availability;
  4. identification of water saving initiatives that can mitigate identified mis-matches
  5. identification of development and planning strategies that could be implemented to address water availability issues within the LGA;
  6. recommendations on future directions;
  7.  identification and development of strategies and actions that are best implemented on a regional basis.

Following completion of the reports for the individual Councils, AECOM also prepared the following Regional Wrap-Up Reports to summarise the findings:

Climate Change, Infrastructure and Asset Management in the Eastern Riverina
Climate Change, Planning and Development in the Eastern Riverina