Water Crisis adds urgency to guidelines


Recycling guidelines get push along: "Water Ministers will ask the Environment Protection and Heritage Council to accelerate work on national water recycling guidelines as soon as possible," Chairman, Ken Matthews said.

Uniform national standards: "With proposals for recycling water for communities like Toowoomba and Goulburn currently being considered, moving national water recycling guidelines forward will mean that consistent, national standards are in place as more communities consider water recycling options."

Water data exchange left for summit: Meeting in Canberra this week, the National Water Commissioners noted that Water Ministers had discussed the importance of free and open water data exchange between jurisdictions. To advance the issue commissioners agreed to convene a National Water Data Summit in August.

Boost ability to monitor climate change: "Improved access to data will improve capability to plan and manage water resources, improve water productivity and to predict the impacts of climate change and land use change on water resources and entitlements at local, regional and national levels. It is also consistent with the Commission’s work on the Australian Water Resources 2005 and development of the Australian Water Resources Information System," Mr Matthews said.

Water trade met with ‘good discussion’: Commissioners also had very positive discussions with senior state officials on the progress on water trading and current state and territory water trading issues this week. The Commission has consistently identified water trading as one of the most vital elements of the NWI. The discussions this week also form part of the Commission’s work in assessing states’ progress in order to regain their suspended competition payments.

Urban water reform meeting held: Urban water reform was another major focus for the Commission, with the first meeting of the Urban Water Advisory Group. The Group comprises urban water experts and industry practitioners and has been established by the Commission to improve its understanding of the important urban water issues facing our cities.

Restrictions brought under scrutiny: The Group considered a range of current urban reform issues including NWI commitments in relation to institutional and regulatory barriers to integrated urban water cycle management, water sensitive urban developments and a national review of water restrictions.

Supply issues: The Commissioners considered a number of urban reform priorities to progress the NWI, including approaches to assist Parties to the NWI better coordinate water resource and urban planning at a whole-of-government level and to assist water agencies to undertake urban water supply and demand planning.

Business access: The Commissioners also supported a comprehensive review of the issues to provide greater certainty and innovation in the access arrangements to water infrastructure by the private sector. They also reiterated their support for policy development to clarify entitlements to alternate sources of water, including recycled water and stormwater, and also to review the issues and requirements to support water trading between regional and urban areas.

Raising National Water Standards: Commissioners also encouraged relevant organisations to get behind the recent call for proposals under the Raising National Water Standards Programme launched on 16 June 2006 by the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for water, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull.

Water Smart Australia: Commissioners noted the closure of the current Water Smart Australia call for proposals on 16 June, which included a separate call for proposals from the irrigation sector, and were encouraged by the number and diversity of projects put forward.

Unprecedented move: "This was the first time the Commission had conducted a special round for a specific sector under the Water Smart Australia Programme and we will be reviewing the success of the special call and identifying other sectors where special attention may be required," Matthews said.

Reference: Media contact: Kim Ulrick, Manager NWC Communications, Tel: 02 6102 6023, Mob: 0412 786 945. Website: http://www.nwc.gov.au

Erisk Net, 14/7/2006

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