Regional and remote NSW communities will benefit from improved water and sewerage services as Phase 2 of the Town Water Risk Reduction Program kicks off.
Minister for Lands and Water, Kevin Anderson, who launched the program in Griffith today, said the NSW Government is investing $32.8 million into a suite of new initiatives to provide greater support for Local Councils and Local Water Utilities.
“Water is our most precious asset and it is imperative that we are able to provide access to reliable town water for regional communities,” Mr Anderson said.
“This program will include a range of initiatives to allow Councils to provide consistent quality water services for towns across the state.
“We’ve already partnered with more than 80 councils and local water utilities and 30 other stakeholders during Phase 1 of the program and invested in 200 trainee places across the state to tackle critical skills shortages in the water operations sector, with over 150 placements already filled.
“Now we’re kicking the program into high gear. This year, we’ve seen how extreme wet weather and flooding can impact town water quality, and we know regional water supplies are vulnerable during drought conditions.
The program will:
· Provide continued operational support to water utilities during emergency events including floods, droughts and bushfires
· Address critical skills shortages and boost water operations training and employment opportunities in regional NSW for school leavers, Aboriginal and First Nations students and existing water operators.
· Deliver a new program in partnership with NSW Health to help optimise the performance of high-risk water treatment infrastructure using innovative technology so that more regional towns have reliable, resilient and safe water services
· Enable local water utilities to accelerate responses to audits to improve local dam safety and address water quality risks, leveraging the systems and expertise of WaterNSW
Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the expanded skills program will help bring jobs to the regions, while securing critical water services for communities.
“We’re going from 200 offered placements in the first phase to over 900 placements per year over the next two years which is an outstanding result,” Mr Henskens said.
“This is across a range of programs, including Certificate III traineeships, Certificate IV and Diploma placements, school-based traineeships, Aboriginal placements, pre-employment skills programs, and trade pathways for experienced workers.
“It is an incredible investment in our regional workforce, delivering ongoing opportunities to train, upskill and secure quality employment, while ensuring skilled operators remain at the helm of our critical water and sewerage town infrastructure.”
Griffith Mayor Doug Curran welcomed the expansion of the program.
“My Council partnered with the Department of Planning and Environment in the first phase to progress our strategic planning, which is critical to providing safe, continuous and secure water and sewerage services to the residents of Griffith even during emergencies and extreme weather events.
“We look forward to continuing this vital work.”
Phase 2 of the Town Water Risk Reduction Program will roll out across the state over the next two years.