Directory : Water Directory 2013
Water Directory 2013 PAGE 49 AUSTRALIAN WATER INFORMATION AND STATISTICS Water supply security has not, however, disappeared from the list of major concerns. It is seen as the second most important issue nationally, with 36% of respondents describing it as a priority. It must be acknowledged, however, that this result is skewed by the high priority given to water security by respondents in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory; those in States and Territories that have experienced heavy rains ranked supply security significantly lower than maintaining and improving infrastructure. Respondents nevertheless clearly consider respite from drought to be only temporary, as the issue re-emerges as a priority nationwide in five years' time. In 2010 'Sustainability' was considered the most important issue. In the subsequent qualitative analysis undertaken through interviews with water sector leaders and reported in the AWA/Deloitte report A View from the Top, released in November 2011, those interviewed wondered why respondents ranked sustainability so highly as an issue, but so poorly in terms of how well it was being dealt with. Consequently, the 2012 report broke 'Sustainability' down into a number of separate, but related, issues. Accordingly, concern about the 'Long-term Environmental Impact of the Water Industry (an aspect of sustainability) was ranked as only the seventh most important issue nationally, while 'Managing Catchments Effectively' is considered the third most important. Notwithstanding these results, 85% of respondents believe climate change poses a significant or moderate risk to the sustainable management of water. Encouragingly, 50% believe the sector is responding to the effects of climate change very well or quite well. This compares favourably to the results in 2010, when only 36% held this view. These three issues -- maintaining and augmenting infrastructure, ensuring water supplies are secure, and managing catchments effectively -- are followed closely by 'Reducing the Skills Shortage in the Water Sector' and 'Responding to Community Concern Over Rising Prices'. Addressing industry skills shortages rose from the sixth most cited issue in 2010 to the fourth in 2012. This is surprising in one way, as respondents don't believe it is more difficult than it was two years ago to recruit staff. However, it may be explained by respondents' views that the skills shortage is being addressed particularly poorly by the sector: only 9% said it is dealt with effectively in their State or Territory. Respondents also expect the skills shortage to be a priority issue in five years' time, ranking it as the fourth most important concern. Figure 2. What are the three most important issues the sector currently faces?
Water Directory 2014