March 2015

The Alluvium water leadership program

20.03.2015 - Posted by Matt Francey

One of the big issues facing a medium sized consultancy like ours is that of personal development. Our people are technical experts and are recognised as such but taking time out from the day to day and working on ‘how’ we do things instead of ‘what’ we do is an ongoing challenge. To improve in this area last year we worked with Andre Taylor and the International Water Centre to develop a leadership course specifically for Alluvium which focused on the twin topics of leadership and systems thinking. Seven of our staff from around Australia participated in the course which involved residential sessions, discussions with prominent industry people and some self reflection about strengths and weaknesses.

It’s safe to say that the program has been a huge success. There has been very positive feedback on the course from participants and their co-workers. We have had unsolicited, very positive, feedback from clients and partners about the noticeable change in individuals. Some of the direct results have included Misko Ivezich playing an instrumental role in setting up a River Basin Management Society chapter in Queensland (rbms.com.au) and Luke Sunner playing a similar role by starting a Townsville Waterway discussion group for practitioners in the region. Another large positive for us is that Alluvium people from across Australia got to spend time together and develop the relationships upon which our business depends.

Based on this success we are running the program again. Congratulations to Jo, Luke, Greg, Stu, Misko, Rachel and Rob who completed the program last year. Thanks to Andre Taylor/Brian McIntosh for running the course and Jude Munro and Leith Boully for their perspectives on our industry. The International Water Centre have some further detail on the program on their website : www.watercentre.org/news/building-water-leadership-capacity-a-short-course-for-consultancy-staff 

 
  

Assessing the performance of stormwater infrastructure: Understanding system objectives

16.03.2015 - Posted by David Barratt
We all know that water quality infrastructure assets have essentially the same objective – to clean water. Right? Well, yes, but it’s not that simple.

Yerrabi Pond (Canberra) provides significant community benefits beyond stormwater quality treatment
Yerrabi Pond provides significant community benefits beyond stormwater quality treatment

Our ongoing work with the ACT Government to conduct a strategic review and analysis of urban water quality management infrastructure in Canberra* has highlighted the broad range of stormwater treatment systems in existence in the ACT and the range of performance objectives that these systems are being assessed against.

Of course, these assets must be assessed against their main objective to manage water quality, but some assets (particularly the larger ones) have additional objectives, such as stormwater harvesting, floodplain management, habitat and biodiversity improvement, amenity, and recreation.

The objectives of treatment systems designed (for example) 20 years ago reflect the philosophies and paradigms of that time and, therefore, often differ to what is expected of stormwater treatment systems today. While recent treatment systems in greenfield areas may be designed to meet the pollutant removal objectives specified in design codes (or are part of a treatment train designed to meet those objectives), older treatment systems have generally been designed to different standards.

Retrofitted infrastructure is often designed to meet a broader range of objectives, including urban biodiversity and community engagement goals.

There are also pragmatic objectives, such as minimising ongoing maintenance costs.

The performance of assets therefore needs to be assessed against the range of objectives that are specific to each site. Understanding this suite of objectives and their relative importance is a critical step in assessing treatment systems. Without a real and comprehensive understanding of each stormwater infrastructure asset’s specific objectives, incorrect conclusions can be drawn – and a water quality management system may be underrated when in fact it is meeting its original objectives, or is failing only with regard to one of a range of objectives.

* Part of the ACT Basin Priority Project (click here).


Other relevant blogs:

A review of urban water quality management infrastructure in Canberra (November 2014)
The ultimate design challenge: aesthetically appealing + cheap + resilient in extremes (September 2014)

Managing Melbourne’s waterways

10.03.2015 - Posted by Lucy Moon
Melbourne Water is the caretaker of river health for more than 8,400 km of waterways across the Port Phillip and Westernport region, and one of the leading catchment and waterway management agencies in Australia. We were therefore very pleased to recently be appointed to a new technical services panel that will provide all of Melbourne Water’s River Health and Developer Service needs for the next three years.  As one of only three consultants appointed in these technical areas, we are proud to be able to continue to support Melbourne Water in advancing the science and management of waterways, support more sustainable management of urban water, and enhance the liveability of our communities. 
 
To provide an integrated service offering for the panel, we partnered with the leading scientists, engineers, economists and communication professionals in the Australian water industry. Our team comprises Water Technology, Marsden Jacob Associates (MJA), Biosis, Thompson Berrill Landscape Design (TBLD), Mendleson Communication and Beca.