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Workshop 1 - homework activity

over 4 years ago

At the end of workshop 1, we ask everyone to reflect and think about the group discussion and information presented to answer the following questions...

·  Where would you do work first and why?

·  How you might prioritise work to improve waterways?

·  What’s the top five? Why?

·  What did you consider to make that selection?

Remember, this exercise will be discussed at our next workshop. Use this space to share, brainstorm and discuss your thoughts before workshop 2.

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  • rh over 4 years ago
    I am going to deliberately try to and avoid getting all 'NIMBY', and try to think a bit broadly. I guess what I see as important is that the public can be confident that decisions about expenditure of public money is being made on strong evidence – that is appropriately relevant, current, complete and comprehensive – and that assumptions are explicit. All the following comments are predicated on decisions being informed by robust analysis. I have also avoided any suggestions about the ‘what’ should be done. I would expect that the mix of appropriate augmentation, operational or maintenance solutions would be different for each location. I would assume there would be a ‘long list’ of potential solutions (say 50 different actions that might be relevant) of which only 5 might be useful to any specific part of the system. Again – specifics would be subject to robust analysis and an evidence based decision making process.To be clear – I am not proposing a novel or unknown approach. The scientific method is an established phenomenon. Economic principles start from an assumption of (among others) perfect knowledge and rational behaviour. Legal decisions include establishment of jurisdictional fact. These are all completely within the rationalist / modernist paradigm.A) Where would I do work first? and why?I’m not going to give specific locations – as I think that just gets into NIMBYism. I’m not comfortable enough with this level of consultation to nominate specific locations. I don’t speak on behalf of ‘the community’ And I will also put a note in that I suspect there may be spiritual and cultural values of waterways for Aboriginal people (which I’m assuming is the subject of a separate process).I would suggest that there has been a fair bit of work over the last 5 – 10 (and more) years that has already been done to identify what and where communities value. It’s not perfect – but go listen (choice of verb is deliberate) to Councils – they work directly with communities on a day to day basis. They also generally have jurisdiction for waterways and stormwater management (along with a few other organisations). I would expect that Sydney Water has done their basic consultation with local council and other agencies with interests and/or jurisdiction in management of waterways (eg LLS, Fisheries, OEH) in relation to existing information about how waterways are used and valued by communities and individuals. There is, of course, then the ‘99% perspiration’ where all that existing information needs to be reviewed and analysed and the information relevant for Sydney Water’s purposes extracted and presented in a useful way. Any gaps could be addressed through targetted consultation if necessary.B) How would I prioritise work to improve waterwaysI suggest that work should be done where it will deliver an improved environmental or public health outcome. Ideally, that improved outcome would be commensurate with or greater than the impacts associated with doing the works (ie improve or maintain / neutral or benefial effect), and the financial costs of the works - with the anticipated benefits clear and quantified (science), the impacts of the works considered (on the natural and built environment, social impacts), and the costs clearly identified. Essentially – you will need to perform a risk weighted assessment of the different performance metrics for the desired outcome and determine where you can get the best bang environmental and public health bang for your buck. This type of broad assessment of benefits, impacts and costs is a fairly standard process under the NSW planning system – it’s bog standard environmental impact assessment. That’s not to say there’s quick and simple answers – there’s not, EIA is the process of considering a wide range of relevant factors, and to do that requires analysis and evaluation of a lot of data, and formulation of objective conclusions on the basis of that data – aka evidence based decision making. Top 51 – Conservation of the really good stuff – do works that will protect waterways (or sections thereof) that have high ecological functionality2 – Recognise Aboriginal connection to country and the importance of waterways – and do works to protect areas of high spiritual and cultural value. 3 – human use values - any inland waterway that has physical characteristics that lend itself to being a swimming destination. These locations are not common – and from an economic perspective – these have rarity value. There are significant real and opportunity costs that are incurred when people need to travel distances to recreation destinations. Adults might not necessarily choose to swim there, but kids don’t have quite so much analytical capability. It is a depauperate society that does not to provide for all members of the community 4 - River reaches / waterways that are the subject of improvement / restoration works by local council, other state agencies or local communities. What additional metric of ‘value’ is required….?5 - River reaches / waterways where works by Sydney Water can deliver an improvement in an environmental or public health outcome. Eg if physical erosion and scouring is the issue – reconfigure the outlet to reduce physical scouring / erosion. If litter and plastics is an issue – put in a GPT type solution. Horses for courses. D) What did I consider in making that selectionAgain – bog standard process. Research, analyse, document and evaluate the biophysical characteristics and functionality of the system you are interested in. For waterways – that would include hydraulic, hydrologic, geomorphic and ecological (terrestrial and aquatic) functionality. Evaluate the functional units that you have capacity to affect, and be explicit about those units that are either out of human control, or out of Sydney Water control. Target actions to those functional units that you have capacity to improve the quality and functionality of. For example, doesn’t matter what Sydney Water does in relation to discharges to a lined stormwater channel – that concrete drain is never going to have ecological functionality (although there may be impacts to downstream areas that do have higher ecological values). If there is a large discharge to a small stream, this will impact hydraulics and geomorphology, which will impact ecological functionality. Reducing the volume of the discharge would improve the functionality of the waterway. Again – this requires acquisition of data – analysis of information and formulation of appropriate responses. A robust application of an evidence based decision making process.
  • Lynda Newnam over 4 years ago
    1. Communication: Engagement has to be a priority across the organisation. Every interaction is an opportunity to provide information and collect feedback eg. when working in an area should be open to talking to passers, twitter and facebook record tagging local councils, media, relevant groups. There is a lot of information to communicate it needs to be presented in layers with local (sub regional) focus without sacrificing generic messages. Dynamic website and getting users to debate priorities amongst themselves a strategy for encouraging public to understand that there are a number of competing demands.2. Planning: Plans of Management for local areas as tool to engage and work on improvements. Need all stakeholders identified and understanding of governance and constraints. What could be achieved if agencies performed according to agreed (in published policy/regulation/customer service manifestos) expectations.3. Regulation: Go hard on bad behavior (litter, flushing oils down sinks, dodgy plumbing, excessive use of concrete instead of WSD). It costs us all. Highlight opportunity costs eg "if we didn't have to spend $x million cleaning up here we could improve/build this". 4. Promotion: Sydney Water provides sponsorship for awards (particularly for Councils) - ensure they are for innovation and are truly outstanding and then promote heavily.
  • Ian Partridge over 4 years ago
    First I would work to detect all existing illegal connections of storm water to the sewer system and ensure they are removed. I would also like to see the introduction of regular inspections of properties with a 'pink slip' type of certification required to ensure compliance.The first priority should be to reduce or eliminate sewer overflows into the waterways.The top five are - Remove illegal storm water connections and introduce a regular inspection and certification of compliance system.Detect and repair damaged pipes and chambers which allow storm water to enter the system and wastewater to leak out.Where overflows are unavoidable increase the size of the storage tanks to contain the wastewater.Reduce the amount of wastewater entering the system by recycling, treatment on each property, grey water systems etc. starting with new developments then expanding to existing properties.Prevent blockages in the system caused by wet wipes and other items by banning their disposal into the sewers as has been done in some overseas countries. I would also improve the present system of reporting, locating and repairing overflows caused by blockages and damaged infrastructure.I considered which work would achieve the greatest improvement to the waterways although I realise that funding these works is another matter.