The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has released a report that outlines a series of recommendations to help the industry identify opportunities and challenges in the future.


The WSAA highlights responsiveness to customers, value for money, planning for sustainable urban communities, and the minimising the impact of the industry on the environment as areas of future focus. The report makes recommendations in planning, building capability, cost effective services, industry reform and implications on the industry of the proposed carbon tax


Adam Lovell, Executive Director of the WSAA, praised the urban water industry for its response to the extreme weather events that Australia has endured over the past 12 months.


“I am pleased to say that despite the challenging conditions, the quality and supply of water and sewage services was maintained, including the use of desalinated water in Brisbane during the floods. The delivery of safe drinking water always remains a top priority for urban water,” Mr Lovell said.


Mr Lovell praised the position of the industry in dealing with emerging sustainable energy practices.


“The urban water industry is very well placed to take advantage of clean energy opportunities because it transports and processes large amounts of carbon and nutrients," Mr Lovell said.


The recommendations in the report are as follows:


  • Infrastructure plans for developing brownfield and greenfield sites in cities and towns should include innovative greening projects, which can be strongly supported by water utilities.

  • Action to renew ageing infrastructure and re-plumbing our cities to act as catchments and use water fit for its intended purpose should commence immediately.

  • Cities of the Future designs and plans need to be climate resilient and cater for uncertainties in urban water services.

  • Water utilities promote innovation through trial projects that support the development of healthy, liveable cities.

  • Governments should remove policy bans so all water supply augmentation and demand management options can be assessed on their merit.

  • The water industry develops a nationally agreed skills framework for water industry capacity and capability to ensure the skills match the needs of the more complex and diverse range of urban water systems.

  • Water utilities should partner with other sectors to trial and implement technology solutions that will benefit customers and make the infrastructure work harder and smarter.

  • Water utilities should aim to be net producers of energy and resources from sewage.

  • Achieving full cost recovery needs to be a continued focus in both major metropolitan and regional area.

  • There is a refocus on water efficiency to ensure not a drop of water is wasted and water restrictions are used for emergency measures only.

  • In a climate of rising prices the utilities customer hardship programs need to be supportive, robust and flexible.

  • Customers are given a greater choice of products, services and tariff option.

  • Government should introduce a clear guide to future governance and institutional reforms as a matter of urgency, with a priority on New South Wales and Queensland.

  • A corporatisation approach should be the base case governance model.

  • A ‘one size fits all’ structural model is not appropriate for the urban water industry. Solutions for large vertically integrated utilities will be different from reforms required in local government utilities.

  • Regulation should be more nationally consistent and move towards a more light-handed approach in the major metropolitan areas, subject to having improved corporatisation and governance arrangements in place and working.

  • Water utilities must be given greater freedom to plan, operate and deliver water services without political interference.

  • Water utilities use the CCA tool to identify carbon emission reduction opportunities.

  • The Government assist and collaborate with the urban water industry on energy generation from sewage and innovative energy efficiency projects to lower the carbon footprint of the industry.

  • The urban water industry focuses on projects that will have beneficial cost outcomes for the customer.

The full report can be downloaded here