Home' ALGY : ALGY Edition 24 2017 Contents THE AUSTRALIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT YEARBOOK EDITION 24 • 121
The 2016 Australian Infrastructure Plan (AIP) by
Infrastructure Australia recognised that the northern
region of Australia is likely to rapidly grow its population
and economy. This supports the view of the Queensland
Government Statistician's Office, which estimates that the
population of Cairns will grow from 163,000 in 2016, to around
228,000 in 2036.
The AIP also identified that without additional water
supply (or demand management), population growth in
Cairns is projected to lead to a shortfall of approximately
20,000 megalitres each year by 2055.
In late 2013, Cairns Regional Council (CRC) resolved to review
and update its water supply strategy to cover the next 30 years.
The CRC's past experiences in water supply plan implementation
had involved community engagement to simply inform
the community of the outcome. Implementation would
consequently be delayed, as CRC's engagement with the
community would lead to localised resistance due to the
perception that it was simply informing them of a decision
without any consideration of the community.
To increase the likelihood of community acceptance, CRC
adapted its approach and involved the community up front.
This ensured that the water supply strategy would reflect the
community's needs and aspirations with an increased ownership
and understanding of the decision-making process.
In late 2013, CRC started a water resource planning project,
called Our Water Security. The project included a community-
based Water Security Advisory Group (WSAG), together with
experienced Council officers and a technical Project Team. With
technical input from the Project Team, the WSAG was tasked
with guiding the development of the strategy for consideration
At its core, the strategy was designed to achieve the
development of a long-term water supply strategy that identifies
a program of supply augmentations and demand management
initiatives to ensure that Cairns has sufficient water to meet
demand under normal and adverse environmental conditions.
Between April 2014 and February 2015, the WSAG and
Project Team met on a regular basis to consider the key issues
influencing the water supply needs of the Cairns region.
At first, the WSAG identified the key principles to underpin
the development of the Cairns Water Security Strategy (CWSS).
These principles were then used as the foundation for
defining the strategic objectives and evaluation criteria. With
environmental, technical, social, economic and human health
objectives agreed to be the most valued aspects of the strategy,
an objective analysis tool to robustly measure the performance
of various strategies and options was then developed.
This approach involved each member assigning a weighting
to the selected objectives based on the views of their respective
stakeholder groups. The weightings were then statistically
analysed, and one set of 'consensus weightings' was developed
and agreed to.
At each meeting, the WSAG was presented with a series
of technical reports and assessments of the current water
supply system, and possible alternatives for increasing the
supplies, as well as direct responses to requests made during
Water supply options within the CRC local government
area were considered, as well as opportunities in adjacent
catchments and areas that could provide a regional benefit. At
each meeting, the WSAG members often engaged in robust
discussions about the issues. This, in turn, resulted in a rigorous
planning process with the development of a robust strategy.
From this process, seven alternative water supply strategies
were defined and assessed in total through a two-phase
process of Normalised Multiple Objective Analysis (NMOA) and
a cost assessment.
To increase the
likelihood of community
adapted its approach
and involved the
community up front.
This ensured that the
water supply strategy
would reflect the
and aspirations with an
increased ownership and
understanding of the
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