Australia has a long history as a water conserving nation. As a hot, dry country it has regularly suffered cycles of severe droughts and floods leading to fears about water security and an understanding of the need to save water. There is no doubt that Australia will experience hotter and more frequent hot days, sea level rise and more extreme rainfall events as a direct result of climate change. What does this mean for water resources and the availability of water in our homes and gardens.
However, recent investment in large scale desalination plants and recycling schemes means that cities in Australia are now considered ‘drought-proofed’ by some. Yet water efficiency remains critical to Australia by the water planners. In non-crisis times, how do we ensure the momentum for water efficiency and what does the Australian public think about water use and how we embed it into society?
Ozwater 2017 is Australia’s International Water Conference & Exhibition, this year it was held at the Sydney International Convention Center in Darling Harbour. Smart Approved Watermark participated amongst more than 4,500 industry professionals who provided leadership in the water sector through collaboration, advocacy and professional development.
The workshop began with Andrea Turner the Research Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS by providing an in depth understanding of what achievements have been made with regards to urban water futures. This set the tone as she highlighted how important ensuring water security in times of drought, while ensuring equitable and affordable access.
Following Andrea, Chris Philpot, CEO of Smart Approved Watermark, elaborated on how we as contributing citizens can help the water efficiency cause by looking out for products approved by Smart Watermark. Chris really drove home how mindful we need to be with water use in such a consumer driven society. Embedding water efficiency is of highest priority.
Chris explained that Smart WaterMark is working to embed water efficiency into society through five key activities:
1) Providing independent verification for the manufacturer
2) Helping consumers make the right choice with labeling
3) Establishing Smart Watermark certification as a bench mark for other water schemes in Australia
4) Licensing approved water efficient products and services across multiple markets
5) Launching a new program called smartwater advice, helping water utilities and councils provide water saving tips to their customers.
Last but by no means least, guest speaker Costa shared his knowledge through stories of embedding water. Costa began by explaining how telling stories is essential for getting information out to the public for the kind of projects that are being exhibited in the OzWater conference. He emphasized how it is not only about spreading a certain story or awareness but it is crucial knowing the audience you are pitching to. Costa explained how he recently gave talks at both the University of Newcastle, and a Forum on Urban Farming and due to their very different audiences attending he had to adapt his stories to share the same information. Costa stressed how marketing to a community to get messages across is the one of the only effective methods of getting the information out. He ignited enthusiasm in the audience as he told his own stories of how current generations want to learn but have to battle with some of the current capitalist constructs that are very inefficient and wasteful. The greatest emphasis was on residents and how their actions are what really affect the local water regimes. Costa spoke as a leader amongst those who are trying to bust the consumption waste dilemma and asked the crowd to join him in this endeavor by paying acute attention to their own water waste. “We need aspiration, we need to want to have a go.”
Jeremy Cape, Chair, Smart Approved WaterMark Expert Panel
Costa Georgiadis, Landscape Architect and television personality
Chris Philpot, CEO, Smart Approved WaterMark
Andrea Turner, Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS