Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at Franc.Sydney, a pivotal event dedicated to the Future of Stormwater, where Stormwater Sydney proudly stood as the Platinum sponsor. The event brought together industry leaders and innovators to discuss pressing challenges and explore sustainable solutions within the stormwater sector.


Two years ago, at the same forum, I posed a critical question to the audience: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the industry’s ability to meet the needs of our community?” The response was concerning 3.5. Reflecting on this year’s discussions, it’s evident that while we have made some strides, significant challenges remain that require our concerted effort and innovative thinking.

During my speech, I highlighted several key issues that continue to hamper our progress:

  1. Clarifying Goals: We often seek technical solutions for non-technical issues. It is crucial to identify strategic challenges and address them in suitable forums.
  2. Defining Responsibilities: The question of responsibility is a common stumbling block, particularly when explaining to clients why no one will take responsibility for issues like flooding.
  3. Standardising Practices: Diverse standards across different councils, and sometimes within the same council, complicate compliance and efficiency.
  4. Maintaining Assets: There is a persistent gap in ensuring the maintenance of stormwater assets, despite the requirements placed on developers.
  5. Involving Key Stakeholders: Are the right people involved in these discussions? The inclusion of developers, investors, and facility managers could provide new perspectives and solutions.
  6. Providing Leadership: Leadership is essential in driving the industry forward. Who are the current leaders, and who else do we need to involve to catalyse change?

The path forward involves both a bottom-up and top-down approach. We need grassroots involvement to ensure practicality and top-level advocacy to ensure that the necessary policies and standards are not only set but also implemented effectively.

As we look to the future, I encourage all stakeholders involved in Franc.Sydney and beyond to contemplate these issues seriously and collaboratively. Together, we can work towards a more efficient, sustainable, and responsible stormwater management system that better serves our communities.

Let’s continue the conversation and turn these challenges into opportunities for growth and improvement.

David Nixon Managing Director, Stormwater Services Australia

Stormwater Sydney