Our water experts came away from this year’s Stormwater Conference – themed Mō Āpōpō (for tomorrow) – buzzing. In case you couldn’t make it, our experts have rounded up their top five pitopito kōrero (short snippets/takeaways).
Here are the top five takeaways from this year’s conference
1. In the theme of Mō Āpōpō: Stormwater The Next Generation - there was a lot of talk surrounding the demand for (and current lack-of) specialists in the field of water quality in the upcoming years. We predict that these ‘specialists’ will take the shape of scientist and ecologists rather than engineers. The Next Generation of stormwater specialists is arriving rapidly and proving to be more cognisant and capable of collaborating within trans-disciplinary teams to deliver better outcomes.
2. A conversation that seems to be taking a bigger (and much deserved) standing in this year’s conference (and the industry at whole) is the need to naturalise Te Ao Māori (Māori world) views into stormwater protection and management solutions. This isn’t a new conversation, but it’s beginning to take a more vocalised presence. Troy Brockbank, WSP Opus Kaitohutohu Matua Taiao / Senior Environmental Consultant, was commended in a number of conversations for his work with the Activating WSUD project team, WSP Opus, Stormwater360, Auckland Council and his role on the Water NZ Stormwater Committee for the work of re-invoking Te māna me te mauri o te wai across the water industry.
3. A big challenge in the NZ industry is the scarcity of data and the need for care in statistical analysis. Around 80% of Auckland’s regional rainfall data is from within the last 19 years and, while the previous 20 years of data (1978-1999) shows a much higher extreme rainfall, there is less data with fewer gauges. As such, more data over time will smooth the present skew and help us to understand the increased variability of extreme tide events and reduce uncertainty in prediction and projection into the future.
4. There is still the need for stormwater specialists to be more visible and play a lead role in making Green Infrastructure and Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) a business as usual delivery mechanism for managing the effects of development on the natural hydrological cycle. There is still room for improvement for us all to help protect and enhance our freshwater across Aotearoa.
5. A shift in recent years has been the move towards unveiling and celebrating innovation within the conference. For the second year running - the Innovation Showcase, an initiative introduced and chaired by our own Market Leader - WRFRM and Treatment, Liam Foster - was a success. We continue to maintain our support of the Innovations Showcase that has bought a new focus to the conference and with simple, effective technologies such as the ‘Storminator’ with its focus on removing the most prominent of contaminants in our waterways, zinc from runoff off metal roofs. Furthermore, we foresee a rapid growth in the prevalence of data supporting the delivery of better outcomes, such as the growing focus on ‘rain radar’ to support both flood prediction and forecasting to better protect our communities and its essential infrastructure. Machine learning could form part of this.