Southern Rural Water has a range of initiatives to reduce our environmental impact.
We have developed a clear policy which reinforces our commitment to the environment. The policy is underpinned by an Environment Management System and various plans which are designed to promote sustainability and reduce our impacts on the environment.
In 2009 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) called Connecting the Catchments was developed and signed by nine South Australian and Victorian organisations, including Southern Rural Water.
The purpose of the MOU is to proactively manage the threats that continue to affect the environment in cross border surface water catchment areas.
The Connecting the Catchments Memorandum of Understanding includes the shared catchment areas of Tatiara Creek, Nalang Creek, Morambro Creek, Naracoorte Creek, Mosquito Creek, Glen Roy/Dorodong Creek, Glenelg River and connected wetlands.
Some key issues that will be addressed as a result of the Connecting the Catchments Memorandum of Understanding include:
- securing surface water quality and address flows in dry times
- land use change
- sustaining the Ramsar-listed wetlands of Bool and Hacks Lagoon and ultimately the Coorong
- sustaining threatened species such as the Yarra Pygmy Perch, Dwarf Galaxias and Southern Bell Frog
Southern Rural Water has developed a number of environmental management plans, programs and guidelines to support its Environment Management System. They include:
- environment plans (eg energy and greenhouse management plan)
- activity plans (eg construction environment management plan)
- management guidelines (eg vehicle procurement guidelines)
- site specific plans (eg Waterways and Surrounds Management Plan for Blue Rock Lake)
Waterways and Surrounds Management Plan for Blue Rock Lake
The Waterways and Surrounds Management Plan for Blue Rock Lake:
- takes a holistic approach to the management and operation of the waterway and its surrounds
- aims to ensure that environment requirements and community opportunities are met, and
- establishes a plan for the improvement of our land and waterway management practices around Blue Rock Lake
By working together with agencies, stakeholders and community groups, we are reviewing existing land use and farming practices on the surrounding lands and boating, fishing and recreational use of the lake. We plan to enhance safety and security and have begun work to improve public access to the waterway.
Southern Rural Water operates an Environment Management System (EMS). The EMS has been developed to comply with International Standard AS/NZS ISO14001:2004. It provides us with a systematic way to identify and manage potential environmental impacts of all our activities.
The EMS has the full support of the Board of Directors and Managing Director. Resources have been allocated to ensure that the requirements of the EMS are established and implemented.
Central to the EMS is the Environmental Procedures Manual. It describes the core elements, and provides the framework for implementing and maintaining the system.
- Environmental policy
- Objectives and targets
- Environmental management programs
- Training, awareness and competence
- Record keeping and document control
- Operational controls
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Non-conformance, corrective and preventative actions
As well as the Procedures Manual, the EMS has a range of other documents including registers, forms, environmental management programs, environmental management plans and standard operating procedures.
While the EMS manual has been developed as a ‘stand alone’ document, the system has been designed to integrate with other Southern Rural Water management systems and requirements.
In doing so the EMS:
- has been developed having regard to our Statement of Obligations under the Water Industry Act 1994,
- has been developed having regard to our Water Plan,
- adopts our Corporate Incident Response procedures to deal with environmental incidents,
acknowledges the importance of water quality issues at our reservoirs but relies on the Safe Drinking Water Risk Management Plans developed in accordance with the Water Industry Act 1994 to manage water quality within the reservoirs, and
- incorporates and adopts other requirements (eg health and safety procedures and reservoir management plans) where appropriate.
Southern Rural Water is committed to a sustainable business and environment.
As a water supplier, we are constantly reminded of the need to manage water resources wisely for today and into the future.
Southern Rural Water was actively involved in developing the Central, Gippsland and Western Region Sustainable Water Strategies. We have also been actively involved in a range of other local and regional initiatives designed to achieve more efficient use and management of water:
Channel automation in the MID – designed to achieve the more efficient supply of water throughout the Macalister Irrigation District, The MID2030 Project – providing future direction for the Macalister Irrigation District, WID Recycled Water Scheme – supplying treated waste water from the Western Treatment Plant to the market gardens at Werribee South, and Rural Water Awards – designed to raise customer awareness of efficient water use.
Energy and greenhouse
The earth’s climate is changing with rising temperatures attributed to increased greenhouse emissions, which may in turn mean:
- Victoria’s water resources are likely to become increasingly vulnerable to climate change, due to projected drying trends over much of the state.
- The demand for water may grow as a result of increasing population, warmer temperatures and higher evaporation rates.
- Water quality may be affected by changes in the number and types of organisms, water temperature, carbon dioxide concentration, transportation of water sediment and chemicals, and the volume of water flow, and
- Decreases in stream flow, impacts on coastal underground water and intertidal habitats, and increased salinity will be critical issues for the management of our water supply and natural resources.
Southern Rural Water is also responding to the challenge and is undertaking the following to reduce its greenhouse impacts:
- we purchase accredited ‘green’ power for all of our offices,
- we use videoconferencing to significantly reduce travel
- we have developed vehicle purchasing guidelines to promote the use of more energy efficient vehicles,
- we offset our vehicle emissions by subscribing to Greenfleet,
- we have installed solar powered gates throughout the Macalister Irrigation District,
- we have hydro power being generated at Glenmaggie and Blue Rock reservoirs, and
- we are investigating the potential to generate additional electricity from micro-hydro power stations in appropriate locations throughout our network.
Combined, these initiatives are enabling us to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emission as we move towards becoming a carbon neutral organisation.
River health and biodiversity
Southern Rural Water is committed to the sustainable management of our land and activities to protect the natural environment. In doing so:
- we work closely with DEPI, CMAs and local communities to maintain biodiversity and protect the quality of the land
- we regulate the release of water from our storages to provide environmental flows and support river health
- we have been monitoring water temperatures in our storages to ascertain the thermal impacts of reservoir releases on aquatic life
- we have worked with CMAs on projects such as the Land and Water Use Change Study for Victoria’s southwest and the Macalister Land and Water Management Plan
- we have prepared management plans (including the control of pest plants and animals) for our storages
- we assess the environmental impacts of all projects
Resources and waste
Southern Rural Water is not a major generator of waste. Nonetheless we recognise that by reducing waste, we can save resources, save money and potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Each major office is developing a waste management plan centred around the need to minimise the amount of waste produced, to reuse and then to recycle.
The plans are being supported by the development of ‘green’ procurement guidelines including the purchase of recycled photocopy paper.
For more information, please contact us.