Coffs Harbour hosts workshops to help regional water services get disaster-ready

Trainer Ric Claussen and Glenn George, DPE Local Water Utilities team Manager Advanced Operations Support, ahead of the Department’s incident and emergency workshop in Coffs Harbour.

IN PREPARATION for managing water emergencies, City of Coffs Harbour Local Water Utilities staff recently attended a Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) funded workshop.

35 participants from ten regional councils were tutored through scenarios that armed them with experience of potential emergencies, leaving them better prepared to safeguard water and sewerage services during floods, droughts and bushfires.

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“We had a very positive response from participants,” Ashraf El-Sherbini, Chief Operating Officer – Water, DPE
told News Of The Area.

The workshops are the result of surveying relevant council staff.

“Through our Water Engagement Town Water Risk Reduction Program we asked local water utilities where we
could help.

“These are the staff on the front line making sure people get their clean water and their wastewater service and
are critical to the emergency response.

“They asked for workshops to expand their toolkit to be able to respond to the range of challenges we’re seeing today whether it’s bushfires posing risks, water shortage areas or floods resulting in water quality challenges or
preparing for drought.

“Essentially these workshops are supporting the staff, so they have the experience to respond confidently having worked through scenarios, and don’t panic.”

Participants broke out into groups where they worked through various emergency scenarios.

“The primary outcome is they’ve gone through that mental exercise so when they are faced with a real emergency, they have the resilience to be able to deal with it,” Ashraf said.

“Moving back to their teams they will share the information they gained and then we will provide a printed wrap-
up early next year to make sure they have a tangible product that they can refer to as and when they have to
respond to an incident.”

Jane Shepherd, Director, Local Water Utilities for the Department of Planning and Environment, said, “Local water supplies are vulnerable during droughts and bushfires, which is what we are focusing on with dry conditions already hitting more than half of regional NSW.

“This is about doing everything we can to prepare now to minimise risks when natural disasters happen to help deliver clean and continuous water and sewerage services to all communities, no matter what challenges lie


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