Like many regions, Bundaberg has typically developed over areas where communities are increasingly faced with localised stormwater drainage issues. Urban densification and encroachment of overland flow paths has resulted in significant community exposure to rainfall run-off. These long-standing issues posed a complex challenge for Bundaberg Regional Council (Council). Faced with aging infrastructure and misaligned expectations, Council needed a proactive plan to manage infrastructure in a sustainable, adaptable manner.
To move towards proactive asset risk management and investment, Council requested a forward-looking Stormwater Management Strategy (the Strategy) to enable response to current and future challenges. To this end, Council engaged AECOM in a collaborative partnership.
The Strategy was developed by gaining a deep appreciation for the region’s challenges and designing new thinking, tools and systems to effectively implement Council’s vision for stormwater in the Bundaberg region. The Strategy established:
- An overarching vision for stormwater management.
- A consistent and transparent approach to identifying and prioritising future expenditure, with a priority placed on minimising the consequences to human life, assets, community wellbeing, the environment, and the economy.
- A commitment to progressively reduce risk and improve community resilience through clear accountabilities.
The Strategy provided an essential framework for best practice asset management which catered for future growth, while maintaining and improving Council’s existing stormwater infrastructure. It established the community’s first level of service for stormwater values, which was directly linked to operational and capital investment. The 10-year plan employed a holistic approach by increasing awareness and education within the community, capturing social and environmental values in investment prioritisation, and identifying critical infrastructure needs.
The new process for categorising and prioritising tolerable and intolerable risk brought Council a sustainable, balanced investment strategy. Council is able to clearly demonstrate their return on investment through ongoing monitoring of performance targets and ever-improving community levels of service.
The Strategy demanded excellence in planning and delivery. Its success hinged on thought leadership, collaboration with an informed client, extracting new value from old data and bringing together the right stakeholders at the right time.
The Stormwater Management Strategy was presented the Asset Management Excellence Award at the 2021 IPWEA Annual Conference.