Congratulations to Barwon Water for being named as a finalist in the IAP2 Core Value Awards for the Birregurra Sustainable Communities Project. The Project was entered in the Community Development category and highlighted how a place-based approach can lead to sustainable water use outcomes.
The Project involved a group of property owners signing up to become dedicated “Water Savers”. This involved tracking household water usage and learning how to be more efficient with their water use, both inside and outside their homes. The project commenced in the 2020/21 Summer and involved installing 400 digital meters at businesses and residences in the town of Birregurra.
As a result, the meters detected 36 leaks. Barwon Water then worked with property owners to fix the leaks, saving the equivalent of six Olympic swimming pools worth of water. Over time the Water Savers were able to save approximate 89 litres of water per day, (a 29% decrease) through water saving strategies and engagement with Barwon Water.
During the month of March, Barwon Water also invited Water Savers to share their best water saving tips, as a way of sharing their new-found knowledge with the rest of their community, with prizes given for the best tips.
Barwon Water General Manager Customers and Community, Jo Murdoch, celebrates the place-based approached used for this project as it shows what is possible when locals schools, businesses, council and community collaborate on a shared goal.
Barwon Water will continue to monitor the water consumption of the Water Savers, and work with the higher users of water to identify further water-saving strategies. The next phase of the project will see Barwon Water and the local Birregurra community looking at possible alternate water supplies, such as recycled water, grant and rebate programs, participation in a series of Living Laboratory experiments, and increasing general water literacy through engaging with Birregurra Primary School.
The project successfully drove behaviour change around water usage and resulted in significant water savings for community participants.
IAP2 Australasia is an affiliate of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) who aim to advance the community engagement profession, and the Core Value Awards are a way to “build awareness, contribute to the practice and recognise excellence in public participation and community engagement”.
The winners will be announced in October.