We are pleased to see Blue Mountains City Council adopt their Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan. Alexa McAuley worked with Blue Mountains City Council during 2017-18 to develop the draft plan.
Much of the Blue Mountains urban area drains into World Heritage listed National Parks and Sydney’s major drinking water catchment. Around the fringes of the urban area and into the national park, iconic waterways are enjoyed by both locals and visitors to the mountains. The Blue Mountains’ waterways also support unique ecosystems including hanging swamps.
Given this context, there is strong community support for Blue Mountains City Council to invest in healthy waterways. However, Council has a large area to manage with a limited budget, and stormwater maintenance is currently a challenging issue. The Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan needed to come up with smart ways to shift the organisation towards more water sensitive management approaches, without relying on additional funds to implement new projects.
A 2017 workshop for the Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan
Close collaboration with staff was crucial to unpack the issues related to water management, agree what a water sensitive Blue Mountains would be, discuss how Council could best work towards this vision, and to develop a plan that was supported across the organisation. The result is a plan which acknowledges the challenges and focuses on getting the organisation moving in the right direction.
At the 2019 NSW Stormwater Conference, Alexa spoke about strategies for addressing wicked problems, reflecting on the Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan as a good example which incorporates room to experiment, learn and adapt, within a framework of organisational support that encourages dialogue and continual improvement.