Focus groups turn spotlight on personal water experiences

A series of upcoming community focus groups will turn a spotlight on how Uralla residents were personally impacted by the recent water shortages.

University of NSW Professor Matthew Kernes and The Global Water Institute’s Professor Stuart Khan will run a series of focus groups on 13-15 May, as part of ZNET Uralla’s Let’s Talk About Water initiative.

ZNET, in partnership with Uralla Shire Council and the UNSW Global Water Institute, is facilitating conversations throughout the Uralla Shire community to get a detailed picture of the impact of the recent water shortage and to explore community options for water security.

Uralla Shire recently experienced the most severe drought since rainfall records began in the 1800s, imparting enormous pressure on water supplies. That was compounded by high arsenic levels in the town water supply, leaving it unsuitable for drinking for several months.

“Everyone brings a unique perspective on how they were impacted by the shortages and how Uralla Shire could achieve greater water security,” according to Professor Kearnes.

“It’s important the discussion includes the thoughts and ideas of people from a wide spectrum and we want to hear from as many people as possible.

“Are you a town-dweller who bore the brunt of recent water restrictions?

“Are you a rural landholder reliant on tank water, groundwater or a combination of both? Did you have to by water during the shortages?

“Are you a landholder in the Kentucky Creek Dam catchment?”

Prof. Kearnes said the focus groups would be a great opportunity to meet with other landholders to discuss concerns, ideas and impacts of future planning across the town water supply.

The Let’s Talk About Water research and consultation project will map community values and responses, from farmers and rural landholders to business owners and town dwellers.

ZNET Uralla President Sandra Eady said this knowledge would be used to create a blue print that could guide local and State Government planning and decision making on water management.

The project has been funded by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment, to build community consensus on how to transition to more secure water supplies.

People interesting in participating can email events(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign) or phone 0413 565253.

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