June 2012

Alluvium no 24 in BRW Best Places to Work 2012 survey!

21.06.2012 - Posted by Matt Francey
The BRW Best Places to Work 2012 list was released today and we're very proud to again be  in the top 50 workplaces in Australia (ranked 24 after being ranked at 40 in 2010)! The list is based on surveys undertaken by the Great Place to Work Institute, in which over 68,000 employees across almost 300 companies evaluated their workplace against five benchmarks: credibility, fairness, camaraderie, pride and respect.

Mark, Adam and I attended the awards ceremony last night at the Establishment Bar in Sydney (the trophy is on its way to our Townsville office as I write). It was great to hear what other companies are doing to make great workplaces. IT companies seemed to dominate the top 10, but what really stood out was the level of trust evident within each of the top 50 organisations, regardless of industry.

Australia-Korea Next Generation Leaders Program

8.06.2012 - Posted by Amanda Wealands

Late last year I was selected to participate in the Australia-Korea Next Generation Leaders Program (NGLP) along with nine other professionals in the water resource management field. The Australia-Korea NGLP was initiated by the Australian Government in 2007 through the Australia Korea Foundation, in partnership with the Korea Foundation (KF), the University of Sydney International Leaders Program (formerly known as the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific, RIAP), and the National Strategy Institute (NSI).

The objectives of the NGLP are:
1. To gain an advanced understanding of Korea’s sustainable water resource management and industry;
2. To promote and advance cooperation, leadership and knowledge exchange between Korean and Australian leaders in the development and management of sustainable water resources;
3. To facilitate ongoing linkages between participants and counterpart organisations in Korea;
4. To develop an understanding of Korean culture and contemporary society.

The program included 10 days in South Korea participating in a mix of cultural and water resource management related experiences. They were big, busy and enjoyable days. Cultural experiences included tours of the DMZ (pictured), National Museum, folk villages, palace, the National Assembly and N-Seoul tower.

The water resource management experiences included lectures, business meetings and personalised tours of facilities such as Arisu drinking water treatment facility, Doosan Heavy Industries, Cheonggyecheon stream, Junam wetlands (pictured below), weirs constructed as part of the Four Rivers Restoration project, and an Energy Environment Science Park.

A visit to Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea

Something that stood out for me was the way that all the engineering projects in Korea took into consideration the social aspects of water management. Where we have the tendency to discourage people from interacting with water to minimise health and safety risk, in Korea, I found that this interaction was strongly encouraged. Getting up close to waterways increased the awareness, understanding and connection that people have with water, while also improving liveability within Korean cities.

Highlights of the program for me were:

Cheonggyecheon stream
At the end of our first day in Korea we heard about the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon stream in the middle of Seoul. What we saw was the result of an ambitious 6 km urban stream restoration project costing about USD$280M. Cheonggyecheon stream had been covered in concrete for roads during 1948-1960 and in 1968 an elevated highway was built over it. The Cheongyecheon is now an open urban waterway that provides some habitat for fish, birds and insects, significant recreation opportunities, and has also helped to reduce temperature nearby by 3.6 C on average versus other parts of Seoul.

Upstream at Cheonggyecheon, Seoul – where the stream ‘begins’
and a river rossing

Lecture by Tim Flannery at Seoul National University
2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Australia, and both governments designated 2011 as the Korea-Australia ‘Year of Friendship’. As part of the celebrations, both governments held diverse cultural, social and academic events in the major cities of their counterparts – one of which was a lecture by Tim Flannery. It was a great experience to see saw how such a well known Australian environmentalist presents information and interacts in the Korean setting. It provided me with an insight into not only the global challenges of climate change, but also into the way that Australia and Korea can work together to start to address the challenges.

Tim Flannery, embassy staff and the NGLP delegation

Ipo Weir
We visited Ipo Weir which was nearing the end of construction. This weir has been designed to resemble a Heron and it’s eggs and is a striking feature in the landscape. Just goes to show that some engineering can be beautiful too.

Architectural style of Ipo weir – based on a heron and it’s eggs and inside one of the "eggs"

Basin Plan takes next step

5.06.2012 - Posted by Kane Travis

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has produced a second draft of the Basin Plan and it now enters its ministerial and parliamentary process. The Plan goes to all Basin water ministers for consideration for a maximum of six weeks, as stipulated by the Water Act. Following this, the Basin Plan will be given to the Federal Water Minister.

There has been a strong response in the media that its central recommendation - diverting 2750 gigalitres of water from agricultural use to the environment - has not changed, and therefore the general perception is that the Plan has not changed (note that the groundwater extraction level is likely to be revised downwards on expert scientific advice). South Australia, Victoria and NSW indicated in submissions to the MDBA that they did not support the proposed 2750 GL sustainable diversion limit and once it reaches parliament, either the Greens or the opposition, who have repeatedly expressed concerns about the plan, could move to disallow it. The debate on the science is largely over and it is now a political process and subject to back room discussions and deals that I am sure is part of its path.

What I did want to comment on was the perception that the Plan has not changed. It has changed quite a lot. We have been working with the MDBA in supporting the Monitoring and Evaluation framework (Chapter 12 for those of you who have read it). As part of this we have been involved in understanding the changes in the other chapters and we think it is a substantially better document. It provides much greater clarity on processes and describes the outcomes and paths to the outcomes much better. I believe the current Plan is a much better document as a result of the consultation.

The community is still very polarised by the 2750 GL number and the science behind it, but the reality is it is an extraordinarily complex system and there is, and always will be a number of assumptions that have to be made. If we wait until we are 100% certain on all the science, it will be too late to recover the health of the basin. We have a number to work with to get going and we can have the ongoing debate and adapt as we continue to learn more about the basin ecology.

You can download the latest MDBA plan with track changes showing exactly which bits have changed.

Barmah Lake November 2010