Alluvium plays a key role in supporting Water Authorities to advance the understanding of source catchments as water quality treatment assets. Our work helps authorities to understand the effectiveness of catchment intervention measures and cost benefit considerations compared to more traditional water quality treatment
Source water protection programs are essentially catchment management programs with the specific goal of protecting drinking water supplies. In recent years, it has been more widely recognized that source water protection is a critical first step in the multiple-barrier approach to providing safe drinking water. In an economically regulated environment where consumer affordability is paramount and where the regulator puts the burden of proof on the water provider to illustrate successful mitigation of water quality risk, there are two critical challenges:
a. How can a sound business case be made for investment in catchment management as a water quality ‘treatment’ option, using best practice approaches in triple bottom line cost benefit evaluation?
b. How can it be demonstrated, in the geographic context of the catchment under consideration, that mitigation measures can be successfully implemented and water quality improvement is achieved?
With these two critical challenges in mind Alluvium was engaged by WSAA and WRF (via Seqwater) to undertake this key project to help advance the understanding.
This was an international project where we undertook a high level assessment of key lessons learnt from catchment management initiatives and programs in the United States and Australia. Supported by Jeremy Cheemsan (MJA) and Adrian Volders (Volders Consulting), this work had to consider the large divergence in local policy and planning instruments and organisational culture.
The project developed a Catchment Management Investment Standard to assist water utilities to build stronger business cases for catchment management as a viable alternative to more traditional, capital intensive investments. investments.
Key to the project was the Catchment Investment Assessment Tool (CIAT). The CIAT was developed for authorities who need to demonstrate that catchment management activities deliver social, economic an
environmental benefits, and that these benefits have economic value. The CIAT can also be used to understand the financial costs of implementing the catchment activities and support water utilities and catchment managers across Australia to make a stronger business case to decision makers (and regulators) for catchment management as a viable alternative to more capital intensive (traditional) investments, especially in impaired multi-use catchments.
The analysis tool helps Water Authorities to help quantify a wide range of financial, economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of source catchment investments. It is designed to be an easy to use, excel based system that can be customised to assess alternative source catchment investments.