On 16 March 2015, the Senate referred the following matter to the
Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report:
the quantum of stormwater resource in Australia and impact and potential
of optimal management practices in areas of flooding, environmental impacts,
waterway management and water resource planning;
the role of scientific advances in improving stormwater management
outcomes and integrating these into policy at all levels of government to unlock
the full suite of economic benefits;
the role of stormwater as a positive contributor to resilient and
desirable communities into the future, including 'public good' and productivity
model frameworks to develop economic and policy incentives for
model land use planning and building controls to maximise benefits and
minimise impacts in both new and legacy situations;
funding models and incentives to support strategic planning and
investment in desirable stormwater management, including local prioritisation;
asset management and operations to encourage efficient investments and
longevity of benefit;
the role of innovation in supporting desirable outcomes and transparent
decision-making, including access to information and novel technologies for
planning, design and implementation; and
any related matters.
The committee was initially required to report by 25 June 2015. However,
on 24 June 2015, the Senate granted an extension of time to report until 19
August 2015. On 10 August 2015, the Senate agreed to a further extension of
time to report until 14 October 2015. On 13 October 2015, the Senate
agreed to extend the reporting date further to 2 December 2015.
Conduct of the inquiry
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and in The
Australian newspaper. The committee also wrote to relevant organisations
and individuals inviting written submissions.
The committee received 64 submissions, which are listed at Appendix 1.
The committee held public hearings for this inquiry in Melbourne on 18 May
2015 and in Adelaide on 26 August 2015. A list of witnesses who appeared at the
hearings may be found at Appendix 2.
The committee thanks all of the organisations, individuals and
government departments and agencies that contributed to the inquiry.
Structure of the report
This report comprises six chapters. The matters covered in the remaining
chapters of the report are outlined below:
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the key issues related to stormwater
by discussing the volumes of stormwater that Australian cities generate, the
environmental damage that runoff can cause, and how urban stormwater has
traditionally been managed through the use of extensive drainage systems. The
evidence received by the committee that argued stormwater is an under‑utilised
resource is also introduced.
Chapter 3 discusses uses for stormwater and areas where improved
data, guidelines and training may help support improved outcomes.
Chapter 4 considers the evidence received about the stormwater management
roles performed by water utilities, local governments and state governments.
Chapter 5 considers the role of the Australian Government in matters
related to stormwater.
The committee's findings and recommendations are contained in
Note on references
References in this report to the Hansard of the committee's 18 May 2015
public hearing are to the official version of the transcript. References to the
Hansard of the 26 August 2015 public hearing are to the proof version of
the transcript. Page numbers may vary between the proof and the official
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