A Large Metropolitan Water Supplier - Steps to Sustainability

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Abstract
Assessing whether an organisation is achieving sustainability can be difficult. Different audiences require different types of information to understand ecological sustainability and in order to understand the combined impacts, overall performance needs to be reported in an aggregated way. Sydney Water uses several complementary tools to assess and communicate progress towards sustainability. The methodology used to assess combined impacts must be scientifically robust, easily communicated and allow benchmarking of performance in order to reflect any transition towards sustainability. Sydney Water has over two years calculated its ecological footprint (EF), in an innovative approach based on input-output analysis and land disturbance. Integrating scenarios into these pilot studies has allowed Sydney Water to effectively communicate some aspects of its impacts in its public reporting. Ecological footprint is an excellent education and communications tool and may have potential as a decision support tool in the future. At present EF can highlight areas for consideration by the Corporation but is not directly used in decision making and planning. Further research is needed to incorporate downstream impacts into EF, such as the impacts on receiving waters. Further, as it is based on financial and economic data, the EF methodology is not equipped to deliver the detailed assessment required for assessment of specific planning options. The use of EF by a water service provider must take place in a wider context of sustainability reporting and planning, building on the strengths of a tool kit of different methodologies. Sydney Water has a range of other sustainability tools, including life cycle assessment (LCA) which are used to develop the Corporation’s long-term plans and strategies. The organisation has used life cycle assessment (LCA) to provide predictive, comparative sustainability assessments of alternative options as part of its strategic planning process. These assessments include upstream and downstream effects but are not suitable for all audiences
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Author(s)
Sack, F
Bransgrove, G
Charet, L
Peters, G
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Publication Year
2003
Resource Type
Conference Paper
Degree Type
UNSW Faculty