Getting the basics right every time

Getting the basics right every time

Customers expect us to get the basics right: providing safe quality drinking water, and dependable sewerage services.

We have the longest supply network of pipes of any Australian utility, with more than 27 000 kilometres of water mains. In 2017-18 we moved to ensure we fixed the majority of faults quickly and met our legislated responsibilities.

Delivering on customer expectations while keeping prices as low and stable as possible underpins all we do.

Smart water network improves customer experience

Improving the management of our water network supports four United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ensuring we provide:

  1. clean water and sanitation
  2. industry, innovation and infrastructure

and develop:

  1. sustainable cities and communities
  2. responsible consumption and production.

The smart water network in Adelaide’s central business district (CBD) provided significant water savings and service improvements for many of these customers. During 2017-18, we set a benchmark for the water industry by adopting and integrating smart technology on a broad scale to benefit customers by managing the water network in a new way, minimising service disruptions.

Our CBD smart water network has delivered on its objectives to:

  • Enable wise investment. We now have a comprehensive understanding of the CBD water network, enabling the right infrastructure investment choices at the right time.
  • Reduce customer impact. Data captured provides information to detect leaks as they arise, enabling pre-emptive repairs reducing temporary water supply interruptions for our customers and commuter delays. In 2017-18, the smart water network resulted in more than 15 leaks or faults proactively repaired before they became water main breaks.
  • Improve customer satisfaction. The smart water network provides real-time network performance information. Smart water meters empower businesses to better manage their water use and address issues before they cause bill spikes or damage to their property, resulting in smooth and more cost-effective business operations. At present, 70 of the CBD’s largest water customers have smart meters, with this number set to increase as the technology is rolled out more widely.
  • Improve economic growth and liveability. Data collected provides improved information about both capacity and performance of the network. With new information daily, we can make better informed decisions enabling more accurate support for business growth and new CBD developments.

New technology supporting our people in the field

Our Work Order App for field teams is enabling a continued shift away from a paper-based work system, to receive and therefore respond to field jobs faster. Following an initial rollout last financial year, the Work Order App was introduced to a further 150 network staff servicing metropolitan Adelaide plus our Community Support, and Production and Treatment teams. We now have about 650 people using the app, which equips our people with a paperless system to receive information and perform their work. Regular updates as part of our maintenance processes are ensuring it meets current and future demands.

In 2017-18, we developed an eMap to put geographical information system technology at our people’s fingertips using the Work Order App. Field team training has ensured best use of this technology, which provides proactive service interruption information to our customers.

Building on this work was our new Click-Dispatch program, which automates the scheduling and dispatch of work to field teams. This new technology is now used by some field teams and in 2018-19 will be provided to our remaining maintenance teams across South Australia.

To improve safety for our most remote and isolated people, 450 vehicles were fitted with a new safety system, with the second stage of this safety project in 2018-19 to focus on wearable safety devices for our people.

As part of our mobile field office, we have also introduced an app giving our regional teams access to the incident and hazard management system. This has enabled them to have information at their fingertips, including procedures and Dial Before You Dig plans, as well as the ability to log incidents and potential risks.

Improving water aesthetics

Interacting with our customers across the state continues to help us understand the drinking water aesthetics they value. This information guides how we develop water aesthetic improvements. Working together with customers has also provided valuable two-way knowledge and information-sharing opportunities.

Our Take the Tap Test program continued with 12 sessions held in metropolitan Adelaide, the Yorke Peninsula, Riverland, Mid-North, South East and Victor Harbor. More than 2 000 members of the public enthusiastically participated in these sessions, providing valuable information about their taste preferences, enabling face-to-face conversations between our people and members of the public and their families on a range of water service matters.

From these customer engagement activities we understand the water quality and aesthetics our customers value and use this feedback to guide our long term management of drinking water. The approach also considers our performance against the aesthetic targets in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and will inform the development of Our Plan 2020-2024, with the goal of improving overall customer perception of water quality.

In 2017-18 we installed four community drinking water fountains in key regional areas: Port Augusta, Port Lincoln, Coonalpyn and Monarto Zoo. These water fountains are available for everyone to use, including their pets, making access to drinking water easy when people are travelling or out and about.

Continuity of essential services and support when things go wrong

During 2017-18 we changed our management of faults to better coordinate our organisation-wide resources and ensure reliability of water and sewerage services. In this time we have developed and begun implementation of seamless service behind-the-scenes, focusing on processes, people and technology.

This project saw the alignment of our metropolitan and country dispatch functions and a range of other improvements, which will lead to a coordinated and efficient response and support service for customers who are temporarily affected by a network fault. Benefits from these changes will flow to customers in 2018-19.

Through focus groups we also engaged with customers to understand how and when they want to be kept informed when they are impacted by a fault. This work aligned with other customer experience activities to improve temporary service interruption notifications.

Sustainable payment arrangements

We are making it easier for customers to pay their bills. By servicing our customers at the first point of contact and working with them to provide tailored solutions, we are ensuring sustainable payment arrangements are in place.

Improved asset management

In 2017-18 we matured our asset management to meet ISO certification standards. Our integrated, organisation-wide asset management framework places customers at the heart of our decision-making.

Improving the way we manage our assets enables us to make infrastructure investment decisions without increasing our expenditure, while meeting our customers’ and stakeholders’ service expectations.

Building organisational resilience

To mitigate the consequences of disruptive events and create opportunities to continually improve the services we provide to our customers, in 2017-18 we developed an Organisational Resilience Policy. In addition, we also completed:

  • analysis of alternative power availability for our critical infrastructure during power supply interruptions
  • a review of critical information technology systems and disaster recovery planning
  • training in emergency management procedures for incident controllers
  • training exercises with our Executive Incident Management and Incident Management teams, ensuring we are prepared for disruptive events
  • participation in international research on real-life resilience through the Water Research Foundation, enabling greater knowledge about best practice in leading organisations worldwide.

Keeping information secure

Implementation of an Information Security Management System in accordance with ISO27001 has improved our corporate cyber security. The system combines management of cyber security risks, incidents and hazards with our existing corporate governance framework and has increased compliance.

In 2017-18 we developed incident response plans for nine cyber security scenarios and improved the way we manage digital identities and access to our technology systems. Cyber security training was also delivered to our people and key partners, ensuring everyone is actively contributing to the organisation’s digital safety.

Operations Control Centre enhancements

As our use of technology grows and develops we are ensuring new and future systems, tools and processes are integrated in our Operations Control Centre.

In 2017-18 we began incorporating Adelaide’s CBD smart water network data and field worker safety systems into our Operations Control Centre, adding to our energy management which is already integrated and continues to be enhanced. The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system was upgraded to ensure version control and licence and alarm management.

Work was undertaken to improve our infrastructure outage management coordination processes and system. This contributes to more cost effective operations and helps plan temporary service interruptions, minimising risks and customer impact.

Price increase held to CPI

We continued our commitment to keeping water and sewerage prices for South Australians as low and stable as possible, with 2018-19 price adjustments capped at 1.9 per cent, on average, to reflect the Consumer Price Index (CPI)*.

For the average metropolitan residential customer, where we supply a water and sewerage service, that is an annual increase of around $23**.

Our prices take into account a number of factors, including the cost to provide, sustain and improve the delivery of water and sewerage services across South Australia.

Under the state-wide pricing policy, most of our customers pay the same price per kilolitre of safe clean drinking water, regardless of where they live or the cost of providing the service to that location. Sewerage prices are also designed so average costs billed are as consistent as possible across the state.

We continue to perform favourably when compared to our interstate counterparts.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s National performance report (2016-17) was released in March 2018 and presents an analysis of water utility performance across the country. This showed our annual residential combined water and sewerage bill (based on 200 kilolitres) was the eighth cheapest, among 14 comparably-sized utilities, and mid-range when compared to all organisations which reported against this measure.

*March Consumer Price Index, All Groups Index Number (weighted average of eight capital cities) published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, to align to the Essential Services Commission of South Australia’s 2016-20 revenue determination.

**Based on the average metropolitan residential water use of 184 kL and property value of $447,000.

Securing water services for the lower Eyre Peninsula

In 2017-18 $1.6 million was invested in new back-up generation to ensure continuity of water services for lower Eyre Peninsula residents, in the event of a sustained power outage.

Six new portable 110 kilo-volt-ampere (kVA) diesel generator units are now on hand for emergency deployment to power production bores in the Uley Basin bore field, the primary source of drinking water for the lower Eyre Peninsula.

Another 1 250 kVA unit will power the Uley South and Duckponds Pump Stations to help maintain reserve levels in storage tanks and water pressure across the distribution network.

Greening Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake surrounds

Locally sourced native trees and shrubs were planted near the Pioneer Memorial at the entrance to the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier, complementing existing vegetation and ensuring unobstructed views of the stunning tourist attraction were retained from the nearby lookout. This activity was undertaken in consultation with City of Mount Gambier and SA Heritage Council.

Improving assets

To replace and upgrade water and wastewater assets and infrastructure across the state, $430 million was invested, ensuring the delivery of reliable, high quality services to our customers.

Water main breaks in the metropolitan area

1 693 main breaks

18.2 breaks/100km

Water main breaks in country South Australia

2 168 main breaks

12.2 breaks/100km

Managing the water network

Our ongoing water network management program focused on improving supply reliability for our customers. We installed 89 kilometres of new water mains: more than 51 kilometres in metropolitan Adelaide and 37 kilometres in country areas.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s National performance report (2016-17), confirmed our network as one of the best performing in Australia when it comes to managing water main breaks.

According to the Bureau, South Australian customers experienced 13.5 water main breaks per 100 kilometres of main, well below the national average of 21.1, and only bettered by four of 14 comparable water utilities nationally.

Our ongoing water main replacement program will see a further $137 million invested to replace around 375 kilometres of water mains across South Australia through to 2020.

Morgan Water Treatment Plant upgrade

An $8.5 million upgrade to the Morgan Water Treatment Plant began in April 2018 to meet future demand growth and enhance the quality of drinking water we supply to more than 130 000 regional South Australians. As well as increasing the treatment plant’s storage capacity to 42 megalitres, the project will upgrade the filtration and disinfection systems.

Water from the Morgan Water Treatment Plant is delivered to customers from Burra and Clare in the state’s Mid North all the way to central Eyre Peninsula.

The project, due for completion in late 2018, is creating approximately 20 new jobs during construction and is being delivered by South Australian company Leed Engineering and Construction.

South East wastewater treatment plants

To extend the service life and further secure reliability of sewerage services we provide our customers living in Millicent, Mount Burr and Nangwarry, we are investing $4 million to upgrade three wastewater treatment plants. The upgrade work at Millicent began in February 2018, Nangwarry works started in March, and Mount Burr in May.

Aldinga Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements

Upgrades to the capacity of the Aldinga Wastewater Treatment Plant began in March 2018. The $15.7 million investment builds upon the facility’s 2011 expansion and will take the site’s total capacity to 3.2 million litres of wastewater inflow per day.

This project will ensure water used by the area’s steadily growing population continues to be sustainable and managed safely. Work is due for completion in mid-2019.

New infrastructure including wastewater inlet screens, a primary sedimentation tank and sludge storage facilities will be built within the treatment plant precinct, with a range of additional works to be completed on existing assets to increase their functionality.

Hope Valley Tank upgrade

Work was completed on a $21.6 million upgrade of the water storage tank in Hope Valley, our largest storage tank that plays an important role in supplying water to more than 100 000 residents in Adelaide’s north-east. This upgrade is part of a broader, $89 million program to refurbish 111 water storage tanks across South Australia through to 2020.

Kangaroo Creek Dam upgrade

Works on the $119.9 million Kangaroo Creek Dam project to meet updated safety guidelines are progressing and provided a rare sight to the community in March 2018 when Batchelor’s Bridge was visible for the first time since 2001. Access to work on the dam wall and spillway necessitated lowering water in the reservoir with the controlled release supporting dilution flows into the Torrens as well as feeding into the Hope Valley Reservoir. Crews are halfway through the upgrade which is on track for completion in late 2019.

New Warooka and Point Turton pipeline

A new pipeline connecting the lower Yorke Peninsula towns of Warooka and Point Turton is underway. The project is set to greatly benefit the local community with improved water quality and increased water security and is due to be completed in October 2018.

Warooka and Point Turton’s water supply is sourced from a bore field which, according to our water security modelling, is not adequate to deliver water for future demand. The towns’ new supply will come from the River Murray and treated through the Morgan or Swan Reach Water Treatment Plant, to produce safe, clean drinking water.

The new 38.5 kilometre pipeline will join Yorke Peninsula’s existing network at Minlacowie and move water to Warooka before passing through the local distribution network to supply about 1 500 customer connections.

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