Strategies to Strengthen Public Health Inputs to Water Policy in Response to Climate Change: An Australian Perspective
Under current climate change projections, the capacity to provide safe drinking water to Australian communities will be challenged. Part of this challenge is the lack of an adaptive governance strategy that transcends jurisdictional boundaries to support integrated policy making, regulation, or infrastructural adaptation. Consequently, some water-related health hazards may not be adequately captured or forecast under existing water resource management policies to ensure safe water supplies. Given the high degree of spatial and temporal variability in climate conditions experienced by Australian communities, new strategies for national health planning and prioritization for safe water supplies are warranted. The challenges facing public health in Australia will be to develop flexible and robust governance strategies that strengthen public health input to existing water policy, regulation, and surveillance infrastructure through proactive risk planning, adopting new technologies, and intersectoral collaborations. The proposed approach could assist policy makers avert or minimize risk to communities arising from changes in climate and water provisions both in Australia and in the wider Asia Pacific region.