Precious drops: Decreasing population growth key to water sustainability?

Date: 07/11/2009

Curbing population growth in Western Sydney to keep water sources in the region sustainable is one option to be debated at a public forum to be convened this weekend by the University of Western Sydney and Cooperative Research Centre for Irrigation Futures.

Kevin Rozzoli, Chair of the organising committee for the 'Water in Western Sydney: A vital link for healthy places and healthy people?' forum, says the key to water sustainability in Western Sydney may well lie in restricting its population growth.

"Growth cannot be allowed to continue unchecked if the ultimate outcome is environmental degradation. Only a strong commitment by both government agencies and industry to detailed, quality research into all aspects of water supply and demand can prevent an economic and environmental disaster."

Western Sydney is currently home to over 1.6 million residents and four of the fastest growing areas in NSW are located in region.

Sharing the region's water are also farmers, manufacturers and other industries and users, including those maintaining recreational spaces such as parks and playing fields. Water also sustains the region's diverse natural landscapes.

Associate Professor Basant Maheshwari, from the UWS School of Natural Sciences and CRC for Irrigation Futures says a key to sustainably meeting water demands and maintaining environmental health is through harmonising the water management and policymaking.

"A full stocktake of all water sources in Western Sydney and accounting for all water users is essential for future planning - especially when it comes to urban development, industrial expansion and population growth," says Associate Professor Maheshwari.

"Community participation in water research and formulating water policies is also vital for a sustainable future in Western Sydney," he says.

Associate Professor Maheshwari believes the public forum is an ideal venue for people to raise their concerns and have their voices heard by those conducting research, developing polices and implementing government plans.

A highlight in the forum will be an interactive and lively panel discussion, facilitated by ABC Television's Ticky Fullerton, in which she will explore the key points raised in the presentations and encourage public feedback through a Question and Answer session.

The day will conclude with recommendations for positive actions to help Greater Western Sydney achieve the goal of a sustainable and healthy future.

The forum is part of the Water and Irrigation Strategy Enhancement through Regional Partnership in Western Sydney (WISER) project which seeks to secure the future of the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system through innovative research and engaging with government, private stakeholders and the community.

WHAT: "Water in Western Sydney: A vital link for healthy places and healthy people" public forum
WHEN: 9:30am to 1:00pm, Saturday 7 November 2009
WHERE: The Nepean Room, Penrith City Council, 601 High Street, Penrith

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Paul Grocott
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