Drivers and challenges of implementing integrated water-cycle management strategy in regional NSW
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 10:39 authored by Tasneem Kanpurwala
Regional water utilities in the state of New South Wales (NSW) are recommended to prepare a 30-year Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) strategy. The aim of IWCM strategies is to ensure that the regional town water supply, sewage, stormwater and related infrastructure, is safe, secure, efficient and sustainable, fit for purpose and meets with community needs at fair price. But, barriers to implementation of IWCM strategies are fraught with many challenges including multiple regulatory obligations, differing community expectations, shifting political priorities and influences and having to navigate institutional silos. This study reveals an insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by and for rural-regional water utility's strategic planning and its implementation. The method used is stakeholder engagement of the bottom-up perspectives of strategic and operational water managers and top-down perspectives of state level water managers and regulators. The vertical and horizontal approach is designed to facilitate the needed step change in IWCM to future proofing water services of regional towns in NSW. The findings from on-grounds, bottom-up barriers in IWCM strategy development is that: process is very expensive and resource intensive; used as procedural document to obtain funds; multiple and prescriptive regulations leading to prolonged approvals processing times; resource limitations and internal organisational silos. The top-down solutions as suggested by the strategic water managers and regulators are: acknowledgement of governance as a major reform area; identified need to streamline the IWCM processes and procedure, but that the options analysis requirement - needs to consider all available options; taking ownership of the strategy development process (reducing reliance on consultants), legislations are enabling the pieces in the puzzle of achieving water security; These challenging, complex and interwoven settings, if not overcome, may result in towns being without a reliable supply of water as has, and is, presently occurring across the rural-regional NSW -- abstract.