Guest Post by James Kline (first posted on CERM ® RISK INSIGHTS – reposted here with permission)
Dr. Davison has more than 30 years’ experience in environmental management, integrated water cycle management and risk assessment. Davison has more than 30 years’ experience in environmental management, integrated water cycle management and risk assessment. She is the Principal Risk Analyst and founding Director of Risk Edge® Pty Ltd. and co-founder and R&D Manager, D2K Information Pty Ltd. She received her PhD in Environmental Biochemistry and Microbiology from Macquarie University. Her most recent book is entitled: The Application of ISO 31000 to Drinking Water Quality Risk Management: A Practical Approach. It is published by Edge Pty Ltd, Sydney Australia.
- Would you summarize the key points of your book: “The Application of ISO 31000 to Drinking Water Quality Risk Management: A Practical Approach” and why your book is important?
- Key Points: Risk management underpins the successful and consistent production of drinking water. The book is based on the key elements of ‘getting started’ (understanding context), understanding the risks, managing the risks and monitoring the risks to the production of fit for purpose drinking water. Each element is cross-referenced to key clauses within ISO 31000 as a means of providing a universally translatable risk framework, regardless of jurisdiction. The elements are divided into parts within the book which provide practical interpretation of the requirements of ISO 31000 and many useful examples. There are many programs which need to be in place to support good drinking water risk management – including document control, records management and training. These supporting programs are also given a drinking water risk management focus, within the book – making it a complete, end to end, authoritative, drinking water risk management text.
- Importance of the Book: Globally, water security is at risk. Supplies of freshwater are dwindling – waterborne outbreaks still occur, even in developed countries. However, the practical aspects of risk assessment and management are often not well understood. There is much information written about the academic and financial aspects of risk – but putting this in a drinking water, ‘how do I apply it?’ context, is often missing. Further, each jurisdiction has its own context for drinking water management. There was no single approach to help with a global, cohesive and uniform understanding of how to apply risk management to drinking water – ISO 31000 formed the backbone of the book’s structure as it is a standard with universal application. The book was therefore written to provide a practical risk management approach for managers, regulators and users of drinking water – based on my more than 30 years of experience in risk assessment and management and the development and auditing of water quality plans.
- Water Quality Risk is well understood. Governments have imposed stringent regulations to ensure water quality is protected. What impact will COVID -19 have on the way water quality is approached in the future?
- As you have noted, water quality risk frameworks are absolutely in place – but proper awareness and water quality risk literacy is missing, at all levels. I think this is why we have had, and keep having, examples of water quality governance break down. Some notable examples of governance failure have occurred in recent years across the whole of the urban water cycle – I have written about many of these as part of the CERM® Risk Insights series (grouped under the tag Water@Risk) including one most recently, which occurred in Iowa, USA:
- Globally, water security is at risk. Supplies of freshwater are dwindling – waterborne outbreaks still occur, even in developed countries. In my opinion, there needs to be a range of risk management measures undertaken to improve the way we manage and respond to water quality risks including:
- Improvements in the quality of training and proper checks on water quality awareness, including at the highest levels e.g. directors, elected officials, regulators.
- Improvements in water quality oversight including the way water production is monitored from source to endpoint, the translation of water quality data into meaningful insights which managers can use to make system improvements and inform capex and opex budgets.
- Improvements in the use of online oversight tools including seeing SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems as one tool in a multi-barrier approach to oversight, and not the only tool.
- Improvements in and streamlining of auditing and audit results to allow for proper interrogation and benchmarking of audit outcomes – to effect system improvements and focus the risk management dollar:
- Improvements in the scrutiny of regulators, not just drinking water providers, to ensure continued focus on governance outcomes as well as the production of fit for purpose policy and legislative frameworks:
- C19 has turned everything on its head – including the way we do business in the water industry (https://insights.cermacademy.com/271-covid-19-managing-your-water-utility-risks-annette-davison/?doing_wp_cron=1607904516.0498750209808349609375). One thing it has made us do is go back and re-look at the way we are currently doing what we are doing. Turns out that the good risk management measures we had in place in Australia, have stood us in good stead for managing C19 and we know that chlorine, for instance, is an effective disinfecting agent, at the levels we use to inactivate other common waterborne pathogens. Much work has also been done globally on sewage surveillance which looks for viral fragments as an early warning for the presence of disease in the community. From a future perspective, C19 has helped put a focus back on good public health protection measures and the importance of our frontline operators in particular, in helping to deliver consistently, fit for purpose, urban water products and services. C19 has also shaped the way we will do business differently, one notable example being more of a willingness from regulators and auditors to undertake remote audits as part of the auditing approach – as a way of balancing work health and safety and water quality risk endpoints. While remote audits will never replace field audits, C19 has meant they are now considered an acceptable part of verification – and they are here to stay: