Future directions in environmental management

An interview with Greg Waller, Director Development and Environmental Services at Salisbury City Council

Triple bottom line is more than a slogan at Salisbury Council. Indeed, Director of Development and Environmental Services, Greg Waller, believes it is part and parcel of the future of Local Government. He said Local Governments have demonstrated that they are very good at economic matters – the delivery of services in a timely, efficient and effective manner.

“We have shown that we can deliver social benefits in the form of community services,” he said. “In recent times, there has been a strong trend to add environmental features to the mix. Of course, the environment now is part of almost everything that we do. We can no longer have a silos approach to the environment and it cannot be the preserve of just one part of Council.”

Greg believes that environmental management will continue to grow in importance.

“It cannot be the work of one section of Council as it affects almost everything that we do,” he said. Restoration of wetlands has been a shining example of this integrated approach at Salisbury. Council has used wetlands to treat its stormwater. A staggering 1.5 billion litres of water each year has been saved from the Murray River and pollution massively reduced through an engineering solution that benefits businesses and the environment.

Salisbury Council also played a leading role in halting a possible major business relocation by implementing a highly effective environmental solution. Created by a partnership of the three levels of government and private enterprise, the Parafield Partnerships Urban Stormwater Initiative is a world class example of engineering innovation and integrated catchment management that provides a blueprint for other Councils and communities.

The creation of wetlands to cleanse stormwater was Salisbury Council’s key strategy to help the ecological rehabilitation of the environmentally fragile Barker Inlet, while at the same time providing cheaper water to local industry.

Greg believes that Local Government has to embrace the full idea of sustainability which is more than economics.

“We have to look at social and environmental sustainability,” he said.

Greg Waller has responsibility for the planning, building, general inspectorate, health and development engineering sections at the City of Salisbury. He joined Council in 1996 and brought with him 15 years’ planning experience. Greg’s management experience and passion for customer service has resulted in the development of the Self Managed Team concept at Salisbury. He said the development of a self managing team was an interesting move for Local Government.

“There is no manager in the unit,” he said. “It is a very hard concept for some people to understand, but it works well. In our recent benchmarking exercise, Salisbury was the benchmark in 10 out of 11 categories. The concept of self managed teams has a lot of followers in private enterprise, but has yet to catch on in Local Government circles.”