Council's Cairns Water Security Strategy - A Community Collaborative Approach was Highly Commended for its contribution to regional growth at the 2016 National Awards for Excellence in Local Government.
The Contributing to Regional Growth Category recognises councils collaborating on a regional basis with other councils, Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees, communities and/or other organisations to strengthen investment and development opportunities, share resources, build regional competitive advantage and create jobs.
Background to the Cairns Water Security Strategy
In late 2013 the Cairns Regional Council resolved to review and update its water security strategy (CWSS) to cover the next 30 years. To ensure this reflected the community’s needs and desires, it employed a best practice collaborative process for stakeholder participation and community engagement.
The Council established a reference panel to provide a platform for this. In 2014, the Water Security Advisory Group (WSAG) was formed with an independent Chairman to guide the development of the Council’s 30-year water security strategy.
WSAG membership included a wide range of local and state government departments, councils, Indigenous and youth groups, businesses and community stakeholders, who all played an active role in the consultation process and the development of the strategy. A number of different water supply options within the Council area were considered, and in a demonstration of regional collaboration, opportunities in adjacent catchments were also identified.
Through the WSAG process the CWSS was developed to provide a blueprint for the Council to ensure safe, reliable and secure water supplies supporting population and economic growth, along with an implementation plan and governance framework. Communication and consultation has continued.
As individual projects are rolled out, regular updates are provided to WSAG members and the Chairman continues to act as an independent advisor to the Council. The Council attended market days ahead of the commencement of the first capital project to inform the local community of proposed works and held meetings with major individual stakeholders.