5 minutes with ARR2016 workshop presenter Peter Coombes
Urban Water Cycle Solutions
1. What is Australian Rainfall and Runoff? What problem is it trying to resolve? And why should we care?
Australian Rainfall and Runoff (ARR) is the national guideline for flood estimation. The first edition was published in 1958 by Engineers Australia. In 2016, Geoscience Australia released the 4th edition that replaced the 1987/1998 3rd edition. This nine-book guideline is used for all Australian flood and flow investigations including flood studies, designing bridges, culverts and drainage infrastructure and dam spillway design.
2. Why is the most recent update to the guidelines so important?
The Urban book in the 2016 edition was realised in draft format and was incomplete. The urban book has been revised and is now complete with detailed examples on the application of ARR2016 on Urban catchments. ARR2016 incorporates 30 years of additional data and science with evolving approaches to professional practice. This revision accounts for the rapidly changing characteristics of urban areas and climate this is presenting increased challenges to urban planners and designers, local authorities, governments and utilities. Stormwater is now seen as a resource and the emerging values attributed to waterways and urban amenity resulted in a new focus on managing the full spectrum of rainfall events to meet multiple objectives in society. The ARR2016 applies the most relevant inputs and processes to local urban areas.
3. What are the impacts of not managing rainfall and runoff well in urban areas?
Australia is experiencing increased flood risks with associated damages and declining waterway health (Australian Senate, 2015) – the damage and environmental costs are substantial. The revised urban book (Book 9) of ARR2016 provides the modern practitioner, planner and administrator with new data, tools and guidance to address these real challenges.
4. Why should someone attend the workshop over just reading the updated guidelines?
This workshop is designed for Practitioners working on Urban catchments and will explain with examples how to implement the New approaches in ARR 2016. The revised Urban Book is based on modern objectives, new science and philosophy that are profoundly different to ARR87 urban guidance. In this workshop, the Editors and Authors explain the processes and science that underpin the revised objectives of the Urban Book and provide advice on applying these revised processes. The workshop is designed to assist practitioners to translate the new guidance into “on the ground” outcomes with associated defensible design choices.
HWRS 2018 Keynote Speaker Spotlight
Productivity Commission, Australia
1. What is your area of focus?
My current area of focus is the continuing need for national water reform. Australia has a long history in water reform which has led it to being a world leader in sustainable water management. However, there is currently a real risk of complacency and with the prospect of population growth and climate change, there is a lot more that needs to be done. The recent report by the Productivity Commission recommends that Australian governments recommit to a new national water agenda which includes a priority on urban water reform.
2. What first drew you to the water industry?
Water is critical to all aspects of life – not just for individuals but water management can shape society and the economy and certainly impacts on the environment. It is a clear area where you can make a difference.
3. What do you like most about your current role?
My current role at the Productivity Commission enables me to look across Australia and assess the way water is managed in each state and within the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) and then report independently to governments on how it can be improved.
4. Why are events like HWRS important and what do you hope people take away from attending?
Events like these are always important to enable people to lift their heads up and see the bigger picture and what other people are doing. From my presentation, I hope people get a sense of how water reform in Australia has moved in the past, what the future challenges are and where they fit into that picture.
HWRS 2018 Keynote Speaker Spotlight
University of Canberra, Australia
1. What is your area of focus?
My water focus area is Australia’s First people – Aboriginal People and their relationship with water including their knowledge and values of water. It’s worth noting that this connection and knowledge bank remains untapped by the water industry today. My Kamilaroi heritage links me to a landscape dependant on water both surface and ground water including Border Rivers, Gwydir, Macintyre and the Great Artesian Basin. These landscapes have significantly changed but I am doing my bit to tell our water stories. We are a dry continent, we manage water poorly and I believe that we don’t value it. My personal challenge is to bring Aboriginal knowledge to the forefront of water management and validate that knowledge, so it can be put into practise and celebrated by Australia.
2. Where do you see the industry in 2025?
To be honest, I hope the water industry is in a better position than we are in right now. The legacy I hope to leave may be different to the legacy our current water managers are leaving future generations. If I have anything to do with influencing the water industry, it will be a re-write on how we manage and value water. I would see my generation and my children’s generation respecting water as a finite resource in a way that respects the past and provides for the future, and only taking what we need, by advancing Australia’s fair share of water to all.
3. What first drew you to the water industry?
My connection to water and science began early as a young fella, hearing stories of my Kamilaroi ancestors excited my thirst for knowledge firstly to understand how the earth works hence the science background, geology, environmental science and hydrogeology. Learning in a western paradigm I am now more swayed to better understanding how the oldest living culture on the planet survived on the driest inhabited continent on earth. The chance I have now is to build on my ancestor’s knowledge and respect for water so the industry and also the water landscapes are healthier.
4. What do you like most about your current role?
Currently I enjoy the challenge of undertaking a Doctorate with the support of the University of Canberra. I enjoy the freedoms academia provides, it is not a perfect world but having worked in local and state government, research and consulting, I am free to comment from an informed position. The other thing I’m really grateful for, is the chance to tell my story to the next generation and hopefully influence one or two Indigenous people to consider science as a career pathway.