Well known TV green thumb and Murdoch University PhD candidate Josh Byrne was announced Young Water Professional of the Year at the recent WA Water Awards, supported by the Department of Water and the Water Corporation.
The annual event promotes the outstanding work achieved by individuals and organisations in the water sector, recognising innovation and excellence in the conservation, management and delivery of water.
Byrne has an Environmental Science degree from Murdoch and is coming to the end of his PhD at the University. He is best known for his role as the WA presenter and writer for ABC's Gardening Australia TV program and magazine, where he's regularly seen demonstrating practical ways to create productive and water efficient gardens. Alongside his media commitments, he is also engaged in research, teaching and consultancy work in the areas of sustainable landscape design and urban water management.
His latest mission has been to help head up a campaign to make Perth a leading example of a water sensitive city. Perth has just experienced its second driest winter on record, with long term predictions suggesting that reduced rainfall is likely to be the norm. Byrne believes that this is the wakeup call that's needed to get things moving.
According to Byrne, further water restrictions aren't the solution – he believes that they will have a significant impact on the landscapes that make our urban environment liveable. Instead he advocates an integrated approach to water conservation that incorporates improved water efficiency both inside and outside the home, along with wastewater recycling and rainwater harvesting.
Byrne has teamed up with the Garden Industry Alliance (GIA), a coalition of peak industry groups incorporating Irrigation Australia Limited (WA), the Landscape Industries Association of Western Australia, the Nursery and Garden Industry Western Australia, the Turf Growers Association of WA, Turf Australia and Compost WA. The group has recently tabled a Joint Position Statement to government that calls for the implementation of a suite of initiatives, ranging from the reinstatement of rebates for water saving technologies to be supported by sophisticated community education programs, through to the introduction of mandatory irrigation standards and the provision of alternative water supplies for new housing.
"Industry wants to work with government to meet the required scheme water savings to avoid the continuation of the one day per week irrigation roster, or even worse, a complete ban. It will require a whole of government and industry response to bring about rapid changes to business as usual. It's ambitious but it can be done if we work together."