Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These goals, known as SDGs for short, are part of a global development blueprint through to 2030. The SDGs are universal, transcend borders and apply across the workplace, marketplace and community. They seek to reduce poverty, inequality, unrest and environmental stress across the globe.

We are a signatory to the Australian water industry’s commitment to support the SDGs as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.  We are contributing to achieving these goals as we deliver world class water services for a better life.

Read more about how we’re contributing to the SDGs:

SDG case study - Customer Assist Program

This program relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

1 No poverty

6 Clean water and sanitation

10 Reduced inequalities

17 Partnerships for the goals


We understand that sometimes it is difficult for our customers to meet household expenses and that a sudden change in circumstances, like a loss or change in income, can lead to financial difficulty. Through our Customer Assist Program, we help residential customers stay in touch with us and better manage their bills. The program helps residential customers experiencing short and long term financial hardship who want to pay but who do not have the financial capacity to do so. We work with customers to agree on a flexible payment plan which is set according to the customer’s ability to pay, with regular review checks to help customers stay on track.

The program is part of our early intervention strategy to engage with and help customers who are at risk of not being able to meet their financial responsibility. Since it started in 2006, the Customer Assist Program has helped more than 10,200 customers. In 2016-17, more than 5,000 residential customers participated, with 2,065 customers successfully completing the program and 243 receiving plumbing assistance.

Our Payment Support Program encourages customers to meet their payments by providing a credit to their bill each quarter equal to one fortnightly payment. In 2016-17, more than 1,920 quarterly credits were applied, valued at $120,000, with an average credit of $60.

The program supports customers with:

* flexible payment arrangements and deferrals

* case management and regular reviews

* setting up Centrepay and direct debit over the phone

* managing Payment Support Program

* protection from overdue fees, water restriction and legal action

* help applying for concessions

* free home water efficiency checks and emergency plumbing

* referral to financial counsellors for access to free, confidential and independent financial support.

The Customer Assist Program is accessible with a dedicated local phone number and email address.

Accessing the program

Residential customers can apply to join the Customer Assist Program when they are experiencing financial hardship and are finding it difficult to pay their water bills. Through early intervention, we seek to help our customers stay in touch with us, so that we can work together to find payment options that suit their needs.

Customers experiencing payment difficulties due to financial hardship may be identified, by us, themselves, an accredited financial counsellor or a welfare agency, as having the intention but not the financial capacity to make required payments in accordance with our payment terms. We help our customers experiencing short and long term hardship by negotiating payment arrangements to best meet their needs. The extent of hardship is determined by either our assessment process or by an external body, such as an accredited financial counsellor.

Our program offers affordable payment arrangements set according to the customer’s ability to pay because we appreciate that everyone’s circumstances are different. By agreeing to a payment plan, customers are able to catch up on the amount owing on their account and maintain their new bills as early as possible.

Entering a payment plan can allow customers to benefit from financial support. To be eligible for this support, customers must participate in the program for a minimum of three months and make all agreed payments.

We understand customers experiencing financial hardship are likely to be under considerable bill stress and may be receiving overdue notices from more than one service provider. We send our early intervention packs to identified customers in the most vulnerable council areas using brightly coloured envelopes, which look different to regular bills. These packs include information about the program and provide our offer to help. Each month we send between 500 and 800 of these early information packs.

We recommend customers participating in the program set up a Centrepay or direct debit. This is a compulsory requirement for customers who re-enter the program after they have not previously met their payment obligations. Our aim is to keep the communication lines open with our customers so we can work together to keep their payments on track.

We offer a home water efficiency check by a licenced plumber for customers participating in the Customer Assist Program. This check helps to locate and repair any plumbing problems and leaks, to help customers minimise their water bills. It is also an opportunity for customers to learn more about where the most water is used around their home, which can help them understand where savings can be made.

Benefits of the program

We are committed to working together with our customers and our goal is to help each participant successfully complete the program, repaying the balance owing and keeping up with their new bills.

Each quarter we report to the Essential Services Commission of South Australia, our economic regulator, about how we are helping customers right across the State who are experiencing financial hardship.  Our key measure of success is the rate of customers completing the program.

Further information

Read our Customer Assist Brochure and Hardship Policy to find out more.

SDG case study - Reconciliation Action Plan

Water services for a better life in remote APY lands

This program relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

1 No poverty

3 Good health and well-being

4 Quality education

6 Clean water and sanitation

7 Affordable and clean energy

8 Decent work and economic growth

9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure

10 Reduced inequalities

11 Sustainable cities and communities


At SA Water we are working to deliver world class water services for a better life. To achieve this we must be a leader in reconciliation for our customers, our partners and our people. We are committed to closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

Our 2017-2020 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) is our third RAP and it aims to consolidate what we have achieved so far and to stretch us further. This RAP is about embedding reconciliation so it is part of our business as usual activity, a step to becoming a reconciliation leader.

Among our commitments, we are focussed on supporting Aboriginal communities thrive by using innovative and sustainable solutions to provide safe, clean water.

The RAP in action

We provide essential water services in the remote Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands. The infrastructure we've built and operate on the lands is state-of-the-art and innovative.

Each of the communities on the APY Lands is supplied from ground water bores. The electricity network-powered pumps are supplemented with a number of solar-powered pumps. These solar bores have been operating in the region since 2016, reducing the electricity set-up and use costs, and increasing pumping reliability by diversifying the power sources. Bores that are fully powered by the sun: a simple and efficient idea for a remote and sunny place!

In a number of these communities we have small, state-of-the-art desalination plants and ultraviolet disinfection to provide safe, clean drinking water.

We are committed to stronger direct engagement with remote communities on future infrastructure planning and construction, as well as practical ways to productively increase our existing support of the APY Trade Training Centre. By working together with communities we can help upskill local people. For example, by providing the Trade Training Centre with a bench equipped with various taps a  water meter  and a toilet flushing mechanism to  assist  local people to replace washers and repair leaking taps and toilets in their homes.

There is a wide variety of ways we are helping provide a better life for remote communities. We are enhancing liveability in the driest parts of our state through work such as using recycled water to green the community oval in Amata. We have partnered with KESAB to work towards community members delivering water education in APY schools . We will be  supporting the new kidney dialysis unit in Pukutja with water supply to the centre.

We are complementing these initiatives by providing our staff with secondment opportunities allowing them to experience life in communities, share knowledge and cultural experiences and skills, and to providing skills to fix basic plumbing issues to help save water in the home. We aim to build closer relationships by employing local Aboriginal people who are trained to operate and maintain the local water infrastructure and to engage with the communities. We are looking into the viability of  installing drinking fountains to encourage more people to drink water instead of sugary drinks, and reduce the waste and cost associated with single-use packaged drinks.

As we build our relationships with these communities, we have learnt we can do more. Feedback gathered from customers living on the APY Lands indicates people are satisfied with the services we provide, but highlights opportunities for us to better support people to understand the sustainability of their local water supply and the processes and technologies that ensure it is safe and clean.


Our RAP ensures we are accountable for building enduring respectful relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, sharing knowledge and skills, protecting cultural heritage, and supporting and celebrating our culturally diverse community.

Through our commitment to reconciliation, we will continue to:

  • improve relationships with Aboriginal communities
  • increase education and job opportunities for Aboriginal people
  • improved health outcomes
  • create and support sustainable communities.

SDG case study - Smart Water Network

Smart water networks delivering water savings and service improvement in the Adelaide CBD

This program relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

6 Clean water and sanitation

9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure

11 Sustainable cities and communities

12 Responsible consumption and production


We are committed to delivering world class water services for a better life. Our customers value service reliability and fewer service disruptions arising from main breaks, so we have invested $4 million in a smart water network in Adelaide’s central business district (CBD).

The network began operating in July 2017 and comprises 100 smart meters at large businesses across the CBD, and 350 devices within the pipe network such as flow meters, water quality and pressure sensors, and acoustic detectors that listen for leaks. The Adelaide CBD is the ideal location to pilot a comprehensive smart water network because it provides a defined geographical area with a combination of high-rise residential and commercial properties, universities, hospitals and recreation facilities.

Our smart network allows us to:

  • identify anomalies
  • proactively repair faults
  • reduce service disruptions
  • improve responses to planned works
  • enhance available asset information.

This new approach to managing water networks will help ensure longer useful pipe life by identifying and mitigating hydraulically stressful activities in both the short- and long-term by calming the network and allowing more focused and efficient pipe replacements to be undertaken.

Our smart water network is at the forefront of smart network implementation and we are the first water utility in the world to implement this broad range of sensors and the Internet of Things on such a scale within a defined geographical area. The network showcases how this technology will increase operational efficiency and reduce operating expenditure, in turn delivering greater value for money to our customers, and leading insights for the wider water industry.


Investigations in autumn 2016 found pressure transients in the CBD to be larger and more frequent than previously assumed, likely causing pipe fatigue and reducing pipe longevity. These pressure transients can be caused by customers’ water use.

With a smart water network we can work proactively with customers to reduce potential damage and adjust asset management programs. We can better optimise asset life and deliver greater reliability by monitoring and collecting key parameters in real time, including flow, pressure, water quality and leakage information.

Investment in a smart water network also aligns with Adelaide City Council’s commitment to create a smart city through technology and data to better manage energy, resources and services.

Implementing our smart water network

The project to develop the smart water network in Adelaide’s CBD was delivered in two stages.

Stage one involved installing:

  • Communication modules to transmit data.
  • Software in the form of a “smart” analytics platform to monitor and analyse data.
  • Sensors in the network including:

* 11 flow meters to build our understanding of which water mains are most critical in supplying the CBD.

* 34 pressure sensors – to determine whether a likely mains break has occurred, and if so, its location. The high speed transient pressure loggers help us understand the short- and long-term hydraulic and structural impact of pressure waves on the pipes in the water supply network.

* 305 acoustic leak detection sensors to monitor the development of leaks in pipes and intervene before a main break occurs (referred to in the industry as “Leak before Break”)

* 100 customer smart meters to track water use at 15 minute intervals and make the data available online for customers.

* 3 water quality sensors collecting data every 15 minutes, which is more regular than manual sampling, to monitor chlorine residual, conductivity and temperature.

In rolling out the smart water network, we worked closely with our metropolitan operations contractor Allwater and the University of Adelaide.

Stage two focuses on developing and learning from the information being gathered by the network (in partnership with the University of Adelaide) to start sharing our experience and results with the industry.

Smart meters are also being successfully used outside the CBD, including pilot programs at Heathfield High School and Ocean View College. In 2016, smart water meters identified onsite issues at the Adelaide Oval and Monarto Zoo which needed attention.

We are now considering where smart network technology can deliver further benefits for our customers with plans to roll out the smart network system to two additional metropolitan areas and two regional townships.

Benefits of the program

Our smart water network delivers triple bottom line benefits for our customers and the wider water industry.


Savings to customers

Seventy of our largest customers in the CBD have smart meters, allowing them to better manage their water use and address issues before they cause bill spikes or even damage to their property, helping to facilitate a more cost-effective business operations.

Optimised financial management of infrastructure

With access to new data, we can better understand the network’s performance. Understanding events such as transient pressures and asset failures enables us to better forecast the CBD network’s asset lifecycle. Maintenance and upgrades can then be undertaken at the best time.


Reduced customer impact and improved customer satisfaction

Since implementation, data obtained from the smart water network has, as at March 2018, prevented 10 major water main failures avoiding community impacts like traffic delays and water supply interruptions.

Integrating smart technology with the Internet of Things and pioneering the science of water data analysis

We are setting a benchmark for the water industry by adopting and integrating smart technology. Interpreting smart water network data is as new as the sensor technology itself. We are working closely with experts from the University of Adelaide and other partners to evaluate the data.


Reduced water wastage

The smart water network reduces water loss by enabling improved identification and repair of faults before they become pressurised main breaks.


Benefits to customers were realised in the first week of operations. For example, an office building was found to be losing 100 litres of water a minute. The cause was a faulty float valve that was constantly refilling an already full tank, with the resulting overflow going straight into the sewer. Left undetected this would have cost the customer approximately $15,000 a month, excluding the electricity used to run the water pumps.

“The [smart water network online] portal has been a powerful and valuable tool in monitoring our daily/weekly water usage across our Adelaide Magistrates Court site and has been an asset in identifying water loss.

“It has been of significant benefit to our organisation as on several occasions we have been able to identify water losses promptly and act immediately. As an example, we received an alert for high water usage which went from 15kL to a high of 51kL per day.

“Our contract plumber was able to investigate immediately and prevent ongoing wastage (fault found in air conditioning cooling towers). This was the second high water usage we were able to identify and take appropriate action to reduce. If not for the portal we would have received a much larger water account as we had no way of knowing our water usage was very high.

“Our plumber now monitors water usage and takes any necessary action when an alert is recorded [in the online portal].”

– Courts Administration Authority