More than 190 delegates are at the Local Government Water Management Conference this week, and the president of Local Government NSW has taken an opportunity to put the hard word on the Water Minister.

President of Local Government NSW, Cr Keith Rhoades, asked a burning question of Kevin Humphries MP, Minister for Natural Resources, Land and Water at the conference; What is the future of NSW Local Government in the water utility sector?

“Professor Graham Samson, who was part of the panel discussion on Local Water Utility reform, pointed out that the NSW Government does not see Local Government as a leader in the water industry but merely a distributor,” said Cr Rhoades.

“Evidently strong leadership in the local water utility sector is required to meet future challenges, but I’m sure that NSW councils are up to the challenge.

“Local water utilities in regional NSW have been getting on with business and continue to perform well, as shown in the NSW Water Supply and Sewerage Performance Monitoring Report for 2012/13, despite the cloud of reform hanging over Local Government’s head.

“Local water utilities are looking to the future, with 92 per cent having a sound 20-30 year strategic business plan and financial plan, compared to 31 per cent 15 years ago.

“We hope that the State Government’s response to the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s report recognises the strong performance of council-owned local water utilities and their success in delivering regional solutions and recommends councils retain these services and ownership of critical water and sewerage infrastructure,” said Cr Rhoades.