Integrated water cycle management

The Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy is the strategic plan which guides and prioritises actions regarding Council’s management of the urban water supply, sewerage and stormwater systems. The IWCM Strategy(PDF, 11MB) has been revised and was adopted by Council in 2014.

The Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy Review

In 2006, Council adopted an Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy to help ensure safe and reliable water supplies without compromising the ecological function of the water catchment now and into the future. Since that time the Strategy has guided and prioritised relating to Council’s management of the urban water supply, sewerage and stormwater systems.

Minor revisions were completed in 2009 and 2011 to ensure the IWCM Strategy continued to address important water cycle issues and reflect the needs and aspirations of the Tweed community.

In 2012, Council engaged consultants Hydrosphere Consulting to conduct the six-yearly review of the IWCM Strategy. This review involved a careful analysis of:

  • Current and future water catchment, water supply, sewerage and storm water issues;
  • Community and stakeholder priorities for water cycle management now and in the future;
  • Best-practice management guidelines relating to water cycle management;
  • Water related programs and studies already undertaken under the 2006 IWCM Strategy, and their success; and
  • Water cycle requirements for the next 30 years.

The review of the IWCM Strategy highlights the need for Council to work towards defined targets for water cycle management, to build knowledge to inform future planning and to integrate development and delivery of water cycle programs and strategies.

The proposed management actions build upon the 2006 IWCM Strategy and relate to a range of areas, including:

  • Ongoing reduction of water use;
  • Climate change adaptation planning;
  • Increasing the use of treated wastewater;
  • Implementing a total water cycle management framework;
  • Improving regulation of on-site sewerage systems;
  • Improving environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting;
  • Improving management of drinking water catchments;
  • Ongoing development and implementation of water sensitive urban design ;
  • Improving management of sewer overflows; and
  • A review of biosolids management approaches.

Community consultation

Community consultation has been central to the development and subsequent reviews of the IWCM Strategy.

It has been critical in establishing stakeholder priorities for water cycle management and guiding the IWCM Strategy review. A comprehensive consultation program was rolled out from 2012 - 2014, which involved:

  • Public exhibition: Before being adopted, the community will have had three formal opportunities to provide feedback on the direction of the IWCM Strategy. Written submissions were encouraged on the consultants brief, the background paper and the Draft 2013 IWCM Strategy.
  • Telephone surveys: 600 random telephone surveys were conducted by an independent research agency, representing a statistically relevant sample size for the Tweed.
  • Paper-based surveys: Over 400 paper-based surveys were conducted.
  • Targeted engagement: Consultation and liaison with state government agencies and community groups, including the Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
  • Internal Consultation: An internal steering committee was established, drawing expertise from across Council, including Recreation Services, Natural Resource Management, Planning and Investment, Planning Reforms and Building and Environmental Health. Interviews were also conducted with the 16 members of the steering committee.
  • IWCM Strategy Information: Stakeholders have had access to IWCM-specific information through traditional and digital media.
  • Councillor Workshops.
  • Three community information sessions on the Draft Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy as part of the final exhibition phase. These sessions were held in Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Pottsville in February 2014.

Evolution of the IWCM Strategy

Since its inception in 2006, the IWCM strategy has been constantly evolving. Council has undertaken many of the actions prescribed in the IWCM strategy.

Council prepared and exhibited the first phase - An Integrated Water Cycle Management Context and Strategy(PDF, 2MB) Report.  From this, a final list of 26 actions were developed

Council reviewed progress towards the 26 actions and adopted a revised list of 18 actions
IWCM Status Report(PDF, 197KB)


Council reviewed progress towards the 18 actions and adopted a revised list of 21 actions
IWCM Status Report(PDF, 58KB)

Council engaged external consultants to conduct a comprehensive review of the IWCM strategy
IWCM Review background paper 2012(PDF, 2MB)



Community Working Group

The Tweed Shire Water Supply Augmentation Community Working Group (Community Working Group, or CWG) was established by Tweed Shire Council to assist Council select a preferred option from four shortlisted water supply augmentation options. Having completed its responsibilities, the CWG has been disbanded.

The CWG met to discuss and deliberate issues during five meetings held between 1 December 2009 and 1 March 2010, and produced a CWG report(PDF, 9MB) representing the views, interests and issues of members together with a summary of group recommendations for consideration by Council.

The consultation process allowed for robust debate and some further community input into this major infrastructure decision for Council. The CWG report was placed on public display so it could be referenced by the community. The report is not a Tweed Shire Council document, but rather a compilation of the views, interests and issues of the individual members and areas where there was some common or majority position or finding.

How were CWG recommendations used?

The CWG report and recommendations were used by Council and the Community in several ways:

  • It was made available as a public document for the community to reference; potentially providing additional information and guidance to the public in making their own submissions to Council.
  • It was used to inform the Multi-Criteria Analysis(PDF, 41KB) (MCA) fine-screening process together with input from other sources such as the Aboriginal community, Government Agencies, consultants’ reports and other public submissions. This enabled Council to include these views within the assessment when determining a preferred option from the short-listed options.
  • Comments on the advantages and disadvantages of the community consultation process will be used to improve future community consultation for this and other Council projects.

The Community Working Group (CWG)

The CWG consisted of members(PDF, 22KB) of the Tweed Shire community and aimed to be a representative cross-section of the Tweed Shire community.

The role of the CWG was to investigate the options in some detail, collect and disseminate information with stakeholders and the wider community, and to work with Council to identify the key environmental and social issues associated with each option. It aimed to assist Council to find the best solution(s) to the following challenge:

  • Respecting the local and regional environment
  • Minimising adverse impacts of construction and operation on people, homes, and businesses
  • Supporting the economic, social and cultural life of the area
  • Maintaining a safe, reliable and cost effective water supply that meets the Shire’s needs to the year 2036

The CWG was consultative in nature; not a decision making body. Decision making powers are retained by Tweed Shire Council.


Members of the CWG represented the range of key interests, positions and concerns associated with the selection of a preferred augmentation option.

Stakeholder groups represented included:

  • Residents of Tweed Shire’s three geographical residential regions, namely: Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and rural communities, and the Tweed coast
  • Landholders whose land would be directly physically affected by one of the options
  • Business and Commercial community within Tweed Shire
  • Relevant environmental organisations and interests
  • Local government Councillors
  • Fisher, water user, or catchment user groups relevant to the options

Council has been and will continue to consult with the Aboriginal community through the Aboriginal Advisory Committee (AAC) and directly with the Aboriginal Community to ensure that all parties are kept informed and involved with the process. The AAC nominated interim representation from the Aboriginal Community on the CWG.

CWG Members were selected from a large number of nominations. On 22 October 2009 Council called for nominations for the CWG from any resident of Tweed Shire, and nominations for most positions closed on 17 November 2009.

The representatives of residents, environmental, business and catchment user groups were selected by an impartial selection panel from Southern Cross University (SCU)(PDF, 88KB) according to predetermined selection criteria(PDF, 26KB). The remaining representatives were nominated directly by their stakeholder group.


CWG members were encouraged to discuss issues and disseminate information about water and the water supply augmentation options with stakeholders and the wider community. Contact details of all CWG members were widely distributed, and Stakeholders and the wider community were encouraged to contact CWG members to ensure their concerns were heard and included in CWG deliberations.

The CWG met five times over the course of the community consultation process. The first meeting was held 1 December 2009, with the last meeting held on 1 March 2010. Minutes of each meeting were recorded and are published on the website together with the group’s report.

Minutes, the final report and other information the CWG determined appropriate have been made available to the public via the CWG members, Council’s website and through distribution to those on the “Interested Parties Register”.