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Workshops to help regional water services get disaster-ready

Councils and Local Water Utilities (LWUs) will be better prepared to safeguard water and sewerage services during floods, droughts and bushfires, thanks to a series of incident and emergency response workshops being rolled out this month.

Director Local Water Utilities for the Department of Planning and Environment, Jane Shepherd, said the interactive sessions will provide essential tools and instructions for LWUs and council managers to help train their staff in responding to natural disasters, ensuring communities can continue to rely on safe and secure drinking water.

“Flooding devastated large parts of the Northern Rivers, the Mid-North Coast and Central NSW, and we know how town water quality can be affected by extreme wet weather,” Ms Shepherd said.

“Likewise, local water supplies are vulnerable during droughts and bushfires, which is what we are focusing on with dry conditions already hitting more than half of regional NSW.

“This is about doing everything we can to prepare now to minimise risks when natural disasters happen to help deliver clean and continuous water and sewerage services to all communities, no matter what challenges lie ahead.”

The Department will host sessions in Orange, Coffs Harbour and Queanbeyan from 23 November, and will provide training materials including how to manage, write and conduct emergency plans and exercises.

The workshops have generated strong local interest, with more than 30 Councils and LWUs participating and two of the three workshops fully booked. Registrations have now closed, but more sessions will be planned next year in other locations if there is similar demand.

The series is part of Phase 2 of the Town Water Risk Reduction Program, which is investing up to $32.8 million to support local governments tackle the most severe town water risks.

The program includes providing continued operational support to LWUs during emergencies, addressing critical skill shortages and boosting training and employment opportunities in the sector.

It also helps them to optimise the performance of high-risk water treatment infrastructure, and enables LWUs to accelerate responses to audits to improve dam safety and address water quality issues.

“We’re charging ahead with this innovative work because everyone in NSW deserves clean, quality drinking water, no matter where they live or what risks their communities face,” Ms Shepherd said.

For more information visit Town Water Risk Reduction Program.

Incident and emergency response workshops being rolled out this month.