Sydney Metropolitan Water Plan : Stakeholder and community consultation

Client:Metropolitan Water Directorate (formerly the NSW Department of Water and Energy)

Elton Consulting was engaged between 2009 and 2010 by the then NSW Department of Water and Energy to design and facilitate a large-scale consultation program to inform the Department’s review of the Metropolitan Water Plan. The first stage of consultation centred around ten workshops. Using a number of innovative techniques, such as ‘world café’ the workshops were designed to elicit information about attitudes towards water, water usage and water shortage.

Workshops were supported by a public online survey designed by Elton Consulting and promoted as part of the Department’s social media campaign related to the Sydney Water Plan. The engagement process elicited high quality information which informed the development of a series of water security portfolio options for metropolitan Sydney. Workshop and survey findings, in conjunction with economic and environmental analyses of options, were used to develop the most appropriate and balanced mix of measures for securing Sydney’s water supply for the long term and to update the NSW Metropolitan Water Plan.

The second stage of consultations built on earlier findings to identify community preferences around the mix of water supply and demand measures proposed for the Metropolitan Water Plan review. Two full-day community and one full-day stakeholder deliberative workshops were designed and delivered. A major element of these consultations was the production of a workshop handbook which participants used throughout the day to record their considerations. Elton Consulting also produced a final report for integration into the review of the Plan. The final report submitted for the project was approved by the minister for full public consideration.

Elton Consulting was re-engaged in 2012 to consult with the community and key stakeholders/peak water bodies as part of the MWD’s commitment to update the Metropolitan Water Plan every four years.

So far Elton Consulting has completed Round 1 and Round 2 of the Metropolitan Water Plan update. Round 1 consultations involved workshops designed to gauge responses to a range of water supply and demand reduction measures that could be introduced in the event of drought.

The purpose of Round 2 consultations were to gain community and stakeholder insight into water recycling, integrated water cycle management and the role of water in liveable communities.

Community and stakeholder perspectives will inform the next iteration of the plan due out in late 2014.