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 2018.
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 as accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.
Andrew Fletcher AO
Chair of the Board
Providing essential services to more than 1.7 million people living across the length and breadth of the driest state in the driest continent is not without its challenges. SA Water is meeting these challenges on a daily basis, achieving the rigorous requirements of providing safe, clean drinking water and reliable sewerage services. I am particularly proud that this work has continued to be extended this past year to include more remote Aboriginal communities.
The Corporation has a clear vision and strategy with an increasingly customer-centric workforce that is adapting to meet the ever-evolving needs and expectations of its residential, small business, commercial and industry customers. The organisation is achieving this by maintaining a clear focus on improving services through getting the basics right and concentrating on those delivery aspects that matter most in contemporary South Australia.
This adaptive approach draws on 160 years of innovating to provide safe, clean water and reliable sewerage services to South Australians. This responsibility drives the Board and everyone who works at SA Water to strive to be the service provider of choice for customers, with an eye on continuous improvement. Further, the importance of world class services to the economic growth of South Australia is well understood with demonstrable actions being taken to grow prosperity.
Throughout 2017-18 the Board has been impressed by the positive energy and initiative that is building on the foundations set in the previous financial year. There are many highlights; the vast majority being customer service improvements, simplifying processes to create efficiencies, and an increasing and exciting use of relevant technology that is leading the way.
This progressive work has been recognised during the year across industry, with multiple awards received. SA Water won Digital Utility of the Year (jointly with Horizon Power), the Water Industry Alliance Innovation Award for its laboratory DNA testing technology, Best Municipal Internet of Things (IoT) Project and Australian IoT Project of the Year for the city of Adelaide smart water network. These achievements highlight the significant work underway in the business for the benefit of all South Australians.
In 2017-18, SA Water again worked with its economic regulator, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia, to meet customer service performance standards and its 2016-2020 Regulatory Business Proposal commitments. The Corporation also actively sought customer input into the next proposal through the Water Talks program with more than 5 000 people sharing what they value and want prioritised in the delivery of their water services.
The Corporation continued to work together with the Department of Health and Wellbeing and the Environment Protection Authority, and met public health and environmental standards and expectations.
Safety for everybody; in every job every day for all SA Water people, and the customers and wider communities it serves, remains the first priority. The Board continues to champion safety outcome improvements and empower all within the business to actively contribute to, and model, positive and effective workplace behaviours and practices.
The Board is proud of what the Corporation has achieved this financial year. I take this opportunity to wish the incoming Chair continued success as he works together with the leadership and wider team to grow the business through the provision of ever reliable and high quality services.
Outgoing Chair of the Board
Water is the foundation of all life and so a critical element for prosperity. Maintaining public health with reliable and efficient sewerage services is likewise a key part of enabling a better life.
I acknowledge the work of the former Chair and directors in guiding SA Water in its achievements to date. I look forward to building on this work and leading the Corporation into continued and even greater success.
As we look ahead to 2018-19, our continued adoption of technology to support greater service reliability will be an important part of enabling continued efficient work practices to provide real benefits for customers.
Meeting customers’ evolving and varied needs and expectations – be that reliable services in metropolitan Adelaide, regional and remote communities, or enabling business growth and industry expansion – is central to sustainable business growth. This necessitates greater focus and effort on delivering beyond the expectation of today to tomorrow. When addressing challenges, many of which are industry wide, new thinking will be the hallmark to leading the way and achieving long term success for the Corporation in the coming years.
As Chair, I look forward to working with the Board of directors as we lead the direction of the Corporation, oversee the financial performance and ensure legislated and regulated requirements are met. We will do this by working together with the Senior Leadership Team to deliver for the more than 1.7 million people invested in our collective corporate success.
Andrew Fletcher AO
Chair of the Board
During 2017-18 we have made great progress towards our vision of providing world class water services for a better life.
Our vision, strategy and values are becoming continually embedded in our business with our people focused on delivering for our customers every day.
Customers at the heart of everything we do
In line with our customer-first philosophy, we undertook a significant public engagement program to ensure the people we serve had the opportunity to shape the future of water services delivered in South Australia.
Our Water Talks program included face-to-face engagement activities and an online survey which more than 5 000 people completed. This was an important opportunity for our customers from across the state to have real input to the issues to be prioritised as we plan for 2020-24. It was pleasing to see the high level of interest and engagement from customers, with so many people taking the time to have their say about what they value from us.
The digital capabilities we offer customers have increased with improved online service options, to ensure we’re responding to our customers’ varied expectations. This has seen the introduction of an easy-to-navigate online map where customers can see all temporary service interruptions at a glance, featured prominently on our website. And our improved dedicated service continuity approach makes us best placed for quicker response to operational issues and customer needs.
Our digital service options accelerated in 2017-18 with the implementation of a completely new online account management service mySAWater for residential customers, our pioneering work on the science of smart water networks, and technology enabling better flexibility to support our more agile and mobile workforce.
Our Adelaide CBD smart water network, in which we proudly partner with Adelaide University and industry experts, is leading the global water industry in the management of network demand, leaks and water quality.
Inclusion and diversity
Another area of significant progress is our leading work on reconciliation. With a Reconciliation Action Plan designed to stretch activity through to 2020, we made a great start, completing 47 per cent of actions in the first year. All our people were involved through a training program to develop their knowledge in cultural issues and bring these topics to the forefront. This program received excellent feedback, as did a range of activities held during NAIDOC week. I am also very proud of the outcomes that were delivered, which support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through collaborative work together with Aboriginal communities.
In late 2017 we assumed responsibility for the water supply services in four remote communities increasing the number of remote communities we supply drinking water to 21. We are now working with these four additional communities to improve their water services by investing in infrastructure, water quality treatment and education.
With much progress made, we are well placed to continue delivering on our commitments and become a reconciliation leader.
Gender equity is a social justice issue that impacts men, women and their families. We pay fairly and gender does not enter the equation. I am proud of our work underway to ensure we reflect the diversity of the community we serve.
With our customers at the heart of everything we do, we are fostering diversity of thought to find better ways of working to provide the services valued and expected. The roll out of our culture program in late 2017 has supported a positive shift towards a more constructive and collaborative workplace, with our people encouraged to challenge the way we work in order to improve the services we provide.
The safety and wellbeing of our people underpins our performance. This year we made an impact on musculoskeletal health. Our program to build the capacity of our people to adopt improved work postures and positioning resulted in a 48 per cent reduction in musculoskeletal injuries across our workforce. We are empowering our people to lead their own safety so everyone is taking responsibility for this critical issue.
Work to review and simplify processes is benefiting our customers and their experience with us. Keeping things simple is an important way for us to grow our customer-focus as well as be consistent and efficient. It also builds on our culture change and innovation programs.
In March 2018 the Bureau of Meteorology released their National performance report 2016-17: urban water utilities which analyses the performance of 85 organisations across Australia, including SA Water.
This independent report confirmed the rate of water main breaks and leaks within our network as one of the lowest in Australia, despite having the longest network in the country. This result indicates we are minimising the interruption and inconvenience for our customers and commuters.
Creating a better life
Our work to create a better life contributes to the future of South Australia. Through the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme, announced in late 2017, we will strengthen development of our state’s important agribusiness sector, delivering 12 gigalitres of high quality recycled water to the Adelaide plains, helping to create 3 700 jobs and boost the state’s economy by more than $500 million. A new water treatment facility at the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant will increase production of recycled irrigation water by 60 per cent to support this development. Projects like this show how central water services are to future development and growth.
Looking ahead, a cross-government taskforce has been formed to progress the future plans of opening reservoirs to the public. While our management of these sites will evolve to ensure continual quality and security of drinking water supplies, opening these special locations for everyone to enjoy will grow our ability to provide a better life for South Australians and our visitors.
As we farewell Carolyn Pickles from our Board, I thank her for her significant contribution and steady guidance as both a Director for five years, as well as Chair for 12 months. I look forward to working with Andrew Fletcher as Chair of the Board and directors as we continue to deliver world class water services for our customers.
* The 2017-18 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report has been incorporated into the 2017-18 Annual Report.