On behalf of the Board of SA Water, I am pleased to present the Corporation’s Annual Report for the financial year ending 30 June 2017.
The report is submitted for your information and presentation to Parliament, in accordance with requirements of the Public Corporations Act 1993 and the Public Sector Act 2009.
This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.
Carolyn Pickles - Acting Chair
SA Water is an organisation with a 160 year history of providing clean, safe water and reliable sewerage services to South Australians. This responsibility drives the Board and the entire SA Water team to continuously improve what we do and to strive to be the service provider our customers expect and deserve. We understand the importance of world class services to the economic growth of South Australia and, equally importantly, to the quality of life of every South Australian.
The 2016-17 year was a time of positive change and initiative at SA Water. Working with Chief Executive Roch Cheroux, the Board has supported the new vision for the future – world class water services for a better life – and a strategy to achieve it. There is a positive energy at SA Water, with a clear direction for the future.
The year had many highlights. Initiatives to improve customer service delivery were prioritised, as were innovative capital works and improvement programs. The release of the mySAWater portal means customers have more convenient access, complemented by online and social media communication channels.
Technological improvements are also enhancing our ability to promptly respond to service interruptions and, in the future, to best utilise real-time information about the state of our network.
SA Water met its financial targets and worked with the Essential Services Commission of South Australia on our customer service performance standards and delivery of the commitments made in our Regulatory Business Proposal 2016 (RBP 2016). We also work closely with the Department of Health and the Environment Protection Authority to ensure we meet public health and environmental standards and expectations.
In all we do, safety remains our first priority. Our intention is that every team member returns home safely each day after work. The Board continue to look for ways to improve safety outcomes and we involve all staff in achieving this goal.
Providing essential services to 1.6 million customers spread across South Australia means the work SA Water undertakes is always diverse and, at times, extremely complex. The Board is proud of what the Corporation has achieved in 2016-17 and looks forward to working with the entire SA Water team to achieve even more in the coming year.
I am pleased about the progress I have seen across the business during 2016-17 and my first 12 months as SA Water's Chief Executive. During this time we have developed a new vision and strategy for the Corporation, which places our customers at the heart of everything we do, and shapes our day to day decision-making.
Our vision is guiding our 1 500 SA Water team members towards the future, and we feel positive about our way forward. Our new organisational values reflect the underlying organisational culture, as well as our future direction. Together we deliver safely, and stand accountable, genuine and innovative every day.
With our customers at the heart of everything we do, we have made some changes to better understand customers’ needs, and so deliver our services more effectively. We have realigned the organisation, and as a result we are now more agile and responsive.
Ongoing customer research provides us with the insight to understand what our customers expect from us. This insight builds evidence for us to make sound business decisions.
For example, one area we needed to improve was how we interact with customers following an incident which affects them personally, like a disruption to their water service on account of a water main break requiring repair or a water shut off for maintenance. As a result, we have created a team dedicated to community support. This fantastic team supports customers face to face when they need it, to improve communication and reduce service disruptions and any associated impact.
Maintaining affordable water and sewerage prices remains a priority for us. We are listening to our customers and will continue to work hard to keep prices as low and stable as possible. During the past four years, SA Water customers have seen a 6.5 per cent decrease in combined water and sewerage bills, with an $87 in average per customer reduction for 2016-17 year only.
Many of our team are in roles which expose them to safety hazards and risks, for example working in confined spaces, working near traffic while undertaking pipe repairs, operating heavy machinery, and driving, sometimes long distances. We continue to work on programs to bring safety to the front of mind of our entire workforce. We must deliver safely, every single day, and the safety of our team members and the community we work with must always come first.
In the past 12 months we have continued to introduce world class technologies in Adelaide. For example, in our laboratories where our water quality experts at the Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC) are using advanced DNA equipment to analyse a simple water sample, to determine exactly what organisms, including plants, animals and bacteria, have been in contact with that water source. This is a first in the water industry in Australia and the opportunities ahead are near limitless.
Another world class project delivered in 2016-17 is a smart network for Adelaide’s CBD. A tailored design of sensors underneath the city streets are transmitting real-time information to us on how the water network is performing. We are using these devices to listen to the sounds of our network, better understand water use and pressure, and prevent potential service disruptions before they impact our customers and the community.
In the past year we have made good progress on key projects including dam upgrades at Kangaroo Creek in the Adelaide Hills and Tod on the Eyre Peninsula; energy efficiency improvements namely at the Glenelg and Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plants; a refurbishment of our largest metropolitan water storage tank at Hope Valley; and major sewer network upgrades for the Adelaide CBD, Victor Harbor and Lobethal. We also announced we would increase our investment into replacing water mains by an additional 100 kilometres. By the end of 2020, we will have renewed 375 kilometres of pipe across the state. All will have a positive effect on water security and quality, and enable future growth in South Australia.
We farewelled Lew Owens as the Chair of our Board, and I would like to thank him for his contribution over the past six years and his support since I have joined SA Water. Lew’s dedication and support has been outstanding. In addition, his connection with and understanding of issues affecting the South Australian Aboriginal community has been instrumental in the development and launch of our Reconciliation Action Plan.
I am proud of the work everyone at SA Water has delivered so far and I know we are all committed to do more to achieve our vision of World Class Water Services for a Better Life.
* The 2016-17 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report has been incorporated into the 2016-17 Annual Report.