ABOUT THE PROJECT

Central New South Wales is a region rich in so many ways: Its natural resources and environmental assets attract a diverse mix of Industries and allow for business opportunities which support a thriving local community. In part, the region prospers due to the water resources of the Lachlan and Macquarie river systems.

In 2008, Central New South Wales Councils (Centroc), including Bathurst Regional Council, embarked upon a study (Centroc Water Security Study) of the region's water supplies. The study recommended steps to ensure water security for the next 50 years. The study showed that 29 towns, including Bathurst, required significant investment to ensure water security in extreme drought conditions. In late 2009, Centroc resolved a plan of action to deliver improvements and in 2010 obtained grant funding for a Carbon Plus Study under the Planning Component of the Australian Government's Water for the Future Initiative, to provide advice on managing the energy costs and associated environmental Impacts of securing water.

In 2009, the NSW Office of Water provided Central NSW Council’s (Centroc), with grant funding to complete a feasibility study to identify and recommend options for improving the security of town water supplies across the region.

The plan was developed in consultation with community, environmental, mining and irrigation stakeholders. The unanimously adopted Centroc Water Security Study sets out the demand-side management program and water infrastructure needs of the region to improve the security of water supply for the next 50 years (MWH, 2009).

In 2010, Centroc obtained grant funding for a Carbon Plus Study under the Planning Component of the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative through the Strengthening Basin Communities Program. The aim of this feasibility study was to investigate potential solutions to minimise the carbon impact of securing the water supply of the Centroc region though consideration of energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon offset options. The recommendations include development of renewable wind resources and farm based carbon offsets. The findings of this study were presented to the Centroc Board in August 2011.

A key aspect of bringing about the change required to implement the recommendations of these studies is the development and implementation of an effective Communication Plan to bridge gaps in the understanding of the benefits of change. The bridge must be two-way, to allow for the development of a shared understanding of the benefits. In addition, communication may need to be supported with varying degrees of education or capacity building again, this is not necessarily one-way.

In January 2011, Centroc, Central West Farming Systems Inc (CWFS), Taste Marketing and MWH signed a collaboration agreement to develop and pilot a Communication Plan to support the implementation of the recommendations.

The purpose of this Communication Plan is to assist in the process of change through awareness raising and knowledge building in relation to the recommendations of the two studies.

The focus of the Communication Plan is on assisting the process of change through awareness-raising and knowledge building. The focus of awarenessraising and knowledge building will be on aspects of the Water Security and Carbon Plus studies that:

• Will require action to be undertaken by the broader community i.e. the need for on-going effective water conservation and the link between reduced water demand and reduced energy consumption;

• May require greater information ie. solar, wind, carbon offsets, in targeted parts of the public domain to aid in building understanding of the impacts, issues and solutions to provide context for the Water Security and Carbon Plus study recommendations;

• Are potentially transferable so that lessons are shared with others responding to similar issues; and

• Strengthening networks to maximise the effectiveness of resources applied to creating similar change by other sectors and groups.