Issues in which qldwater has represented Service Providers to influence ongoing industry change.
Sewage Pumping Station (ERA 63) Guidelines Review*
Excavation and Piling Near Sewers
Building Over Infrastructure Guidelines
Water Seepage Legislation
National Industry Reviews
Streamlining Mandatory Management Plans
Drinking Water Quality Management Framework
Future of the Regional Water Industry*
SEQ Institutional Restructures
Reporting to the Regulator on drinking water quality monitoring became mandatory for Service Providers in January 2009. qldwater played a crucial role influencing development of guidelines to simplify processes for members. For example, in response to industry feedback, incident reporting requirements were simplified and the additional requirement of annual reporting on water quality was removed. Unfortunately, industry was allowed little input during the development of the legislation introducing the new Drinking Water Quality reporting. In contrast however, the Regulator is consulted broadly on the development of Statutory Guidelines and processes for the implementation of the new legislation through qldwater and directly with the industry. Our advocacy contibuted to development of a broad-based industry reference group to advise the State and more foccused State Guidlines. The result is a more meaningful and achievable approach to the important issue of managing drinking water quality. At an operational level, qldwater was able to secure a clear articulation from the State that on ground coliform testing kits are an acceptable addition to a testing regimen, addressing one of the most critical issues for remote areas – the shelf life applicable to samples.
In December 2007, the Queensland Premier announced without warning that fluoridation of public water supplies was to become mandatory across Queensland. qldwater immediately wrote to the State requesting liaison about capacity building and ongoing support for operations and maintenance of fluoridation. A local government technical committee was formed to provide industry-driven feedback on the fluoridation program and provide scrutiny for the State program. qldwater joined and remains a member of the State Fluoridation Technical Committee representing Service Providers in discussions about the Capital roll-out program.
The installation of property service infrastructure has long been a contentious issue which is periodically challenged to propose that licenced plumbers are required to install and maintain this infrastructure. A minor change in the legislative definition of plumbing in late 2007 led to a change in Government Policy resulting in legal proceedings against one Council and the threat of further action across the state. qldwater responded immediately and together with LGAQ sought to rationalise the proposed changes to enable Service Providers to continue to provide services to their communities. The outcome was that only licenced plumbers are able to install meters, but the remaining installation and maintenance may be undetaken by appropriately skilled workers as determined by the Service Provider.
A number of new demand management measures were introduced into legislation by the State government in 2007 with limited input from the industry. qldwater provided a high level of feed-back on the measures and was successful in influencing the change in favour of our members thanks to cooperation with LGAQ. Continuing advocacy during implementation of the changes resulted in the new measures being developed to be more reflective of the needs of all members.
A common cocern for many Service Providers in 2007 surveys was the lack of suitable training opportunites for water workers. qldwater embarked on a program to increase the number of suitable RTOs for Queensland but in the first instance Wide Bay TAFE, Skillstech Queensland, ICEWaRM and the International Water Centre about expansion of their existing courses for Queensland service providers. These activities aimed to build a framework for both Water Industry Workers and Water Managers that will assist in defining skills and proficiencies and in outlining a career paths within the industry.
A strategy being developed by the State was to provide a framework for the demand management measures that have been rapidly developed during the SEQ drought. qldwater played a strong role in influencing the development of this strategy to ensure that the measures applied would be relevant to regional Queensland and not merely copied from the SEQ experienceThis is a real risk that was mitigated through continued lobbying at a range of levels along with LGAQ and the State strategy was deferred.
In late 2007 confusion was generated when the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service released a policy (B.AP 2.2 on 9 October) on the Design of Hydraulic Systems. The policy was subsequently withdrawn at least in part because of advocacy on behalf of the industry (which would otherwise have been required to guarantee minimum flows and pressures 100% of the time). There are still issues to be resolved and qldwater convened a meeting of NRW, LGIS and pressure and leakage experts to discuss the impacts on the Queensland Water Industry. This meeting was followed by a workshop for all staekholders in 2008 but with no clear resolution of this complex and controversial issue.
The initial review of the numerous data requests required of Service Providers for water reporting was completed in late 2007 revealing that an initial list of 900 indicators could be reduced to just over 200. A whole-of-government taskforce was convened to determine how best to rationalise the overlapping data requests from five State agencies.
To support Service Providers in their use of the DMP Template and Guidelines created in consulation with the State in previous years, qldwater applied and was successful in gaining funding support from the Department of Local Government to undertake workshops throughout the state at 12 locations in 2007. Feedback was positive with some participants able to complete key elements their legislative requirement during the single-day workshop.
In early 2006, qldwater and LGAQ developed an industry position paper dealing with grey water reuse legislation. Subsequently, in 2007, State Policy began to change rapidly, causing concern for many Service Providers. qldwater advocated on behalf of Service Providers and produced a FactSheet on the changes, the reasons behind them and how members could respond to minimise their risks and also collated a joint industry response on the draft State Policy. The result was better technical input to the State processes and a mechanism for collating feedback from Service Providers. The outcomes were a more suitable regulatory framework for greywater reuse providing future savings for Councils in the forms of costs and risks avoided.
With water restrictions becomming more common across the State , late in 2006, a number of members requested that qldwater develop a generic set of restriction levels to aid developing consistency across Council borders. Such an approach is at the discretion of each council but requires a centralised review of existing restriction levels. A comparison of relevant restrictions from a range of sources was distributed to provide Service Providers with the necessary information for benchmarking and setting their own levels, potentially in collaboration with their neighbours.
Advocacy by qldwater contibuted to the extension of the SEQ BWEP to regional Queensland. qldwater partnered with the State in the initial consultation phase of the program to facilitate two-way communication with Service Providers. Thanks to the goodwill of our members, appropriate information to design the program was collated despite a taxing timeframe. Industry involvement through qldwater influenced the program design and the State-wide roll-out of BWEP to benefit all Queensland Service Providers.
LGAQ and qldwater collaborated in negotiating with the State Government to defer water charging by the State saving Local Government over $20 million. On 19 March 2006, the Queensland Government announced a suspension of the new water charges that were due to commence for all Local Governments on 1 July 2006. The LGAQ was been formally advised by the State that Local Governments will not be levied any water charges until the government has fully considered the outcome of an independent analysis of costs.
The On-site Sewerage Code which includes the technical requirements for greywater use in unsewered areas was being revised to form the new Plumbing and Wastewater Code which would include a new section relating to greywater use in sewered areas. The qldwater TRG and LGAQ developed an industry position paper dealing with the implementation of the grey water reuse provisions which included recommendations on the methods for determining whether ot noy local government accept applications for greywater systems.
qldwater negotiated with the State to create SLMP Templates and Guidelines along with software to assist Service providrs in assessing their system leakage. The software was developed by an international expert and integrated water loss learnings from the previous 10 years into an easy to use program for Service Providers of all sizes.
qldwater, LGAQ and Department of Local Government Planning Sport & Recreation (DLGPSR) completed the Terms of Reference and Project Plan to commence investigating the reform of water reporting in Queensland. The project seeks to reduce the number of reports from the 5 state government agencies and provide surety and build capacity for Service Providers.
qldwater worked in partnership with the EPA and GBRMPA between October 2004 and February 2005 to provide technical input to a proposed load based licensing policy for sewage treatment plants. The outcome was a flexible licensing arrangement with an option to move to advanced wastewater treatment or increased recycled water use to minimise nutrient discharges. EPA and GBRMPA policies and license conditions were better aligned and a model license document was prepared as the basic template for new STP licenses.
In response to the 2005 amendments to the Water Act 2000 requiring compulsory Drought management Plans, qldwater negotiated with the Regulator to develop templates and user guidelines.
The LGAQ and qldwater gained the support of Ministers and the Queensland Treasury Corporation to review regulatory and voluntary water industry reporting arrangements. The DLGP was nominated by the Minuster for Local Government as the lead agency for the project with the aim to condense reporting arrangements into one annual water industry report.