This year Shoalhaven City Council (SCC) received the Local Government Award for Excellence in Overall Environmental Management at the prestigious United Nations of Australia World Environment Day Awards. In part this was in recognition of the considerable amount of time and money SCC invests on monitoring and reporting Water Quality across its Drinking Water, Effluent Treatment, Waste Management and Environmental Services departments. The most laborious aspect of this work is the time each department currently spends on manually collating results, entering into databases, exporting to spreadsheets, statistically analysing, summarising and publishing on the web.
Yet despite the millions of dollars NSW organisations spend on all this monitoring and reporting of water quality, the vast majority is still rarely available within a time frame or at an appropriate level of detail necessary to assist management decisions outside the immediate needs of the custodian who collected it. And even then it usually requires the assistance of a database expert to access it. As a consequence the data is effectively inaccessible to other internal and external stakeholders, and thus the returns on investment from all this environmental monitoring are not being realised.
SCC has therefore established a public, user friendly, GIS searchable, water quality information portal called Aqua Data. Aqua Data automatically captures and shares water quality information from multiple custodians with internal and external customers, quickly and effectively, so they have the very latest water quality information presented in various useful ways.
SCC are now keen to work with other water quality custodians to expand both the number and geographical extent of the Aqua Data approach, so that the benefits of having a cost effective, one-stop, easily maintained and accessible water quality information service is shared and utilised by a growing audience.