Targets driving change

Targets driving change

18.04.2013 - Posted by Rob Catchlove
Last week The Australian reported that the South Australian government was to announce a plan to reduce stormwater and wastewater pollution * going into Gulf St Vincent. The targets they refer to included:

• Reduce nitrogen discharge from the 2003 level of 2400 tonnes to 600
• Reduce total suspended solids (TSS) by half the 2003 level
• Reduce stormwater, wastewater and industrial discharge
• Reduce organic matter flowing into the gulf

There has been no official statement from the government, but also no denial, so for the time being I’ll assume this is true and could become government policy. The science behind the plan is based on the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study, which was initiated in 2001 on the back of the concern for the Gulf and seagrasses. The 2007 final report had 14 recommendations.

Targets are an important mechanism to drive stormwater management controls, wastewater treatment and catchment management in general. In Victoria, similar targets have initiated a change in approach and water authorities and local councils have embraced water sensitive urban design.

The use of targets to drive environmental change (or minimise environmental impact) is particularly relevant for the drive to improve skills and knowledge in the industry, referred to as ‘capacity building’. When we did the ‘Business case for WSUD capacity building in SA’, last year, there was always a need to tie capacity building back to a ‘problem’. Pollution is a key issue and regional targets will help drive a change in capacity to manage stormwater and wastewater.

I suspect the future of these types of water quality and urban runoff targets will move towards focusing on stormwater harvesting, whereby the target is to prevent x % of the stormwater discharging, on average, into the receiving environment. Such an approach would be driven by a ‘liveability agenda’- a move to retain the water, reduce potable consumption and create the green cities that are being discussed so often these days.

Adelaide coastline (Gulf St Vincent)

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