Leading the way

Leading the way

To achieve our vision, we must become national and global leaders giving our customers confidence we are innovating to achieve outcomes for them. As a leader in South Australia, we support our local community and economy.

Leading reconciliation

We want to be a leader in reconciliation; for our customers, our partners, our people and the communities in which we operate.

Our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan 2017-2020 (RAP), aims to consolidate the achievements of our two earlier plans and stretch us further. This RAP is about embedding reconciliation so it is part of our business-as-usual activity, a significant step in becoming a reconciliation leader.

Among our commitments, we support Aboriginal communities to thrive by using innovative and sustainable solutions to provide safe, clean water. This work is directly related to these nine United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. no poverty
  2. good health and well-being
  3. quality education
  4. clean water and sanitation
  5. affordable and clean energy
  6. decent work and economic growth
  7. industry, innovation and infrastructure
  8. reduced inequalities
  9. sustainable cities and communities.

In the first year of our RAP we have completed nearly half of our actions with the remaining 52 per cent on track to be finished by 2020.

Among the achievements this financial year was online cultural awareness training undertaken by more than 1 000 of our people. The program was designed to empower our people to be ambassadors for reconciliation. In addition, 235 people participated in a more comprehensive, face-to-face cultural competency training program.

Various events and activities were held to celebrate National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week, ensuring these opportunities to learn more about Aboriginal culture and history were best used, and the work of our people and the South Australian Aboriginal community was recognised. These included a prominent exhibition at SA Water House in Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga, featuring paintings by South Australian artists.

During 2017-18, at its peak, we achieved an Aboriginal employment rate of 2.28 per cent, our highest to date. We developed an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce development plan and provided several major secondment opportunities for these workers across our business.

Our procurement policies were updated enabling greater access for Aboriginal businesses to be awarded work. Importantly, supplier proposals for Aboriginal employment and business opportunities have been included in procurement planning processes, documentation and tendering.

To formally acknowledge our commitment to reconciliation, a statement of commitment was endorsed and signed by the Chief Executive and Chair of the Board. Our people were educated on the importance of acknowledging country, and we provided guidelines on when and how to do this. Acknowledgement plaques have been installed at all of our regional sites.

Along with these highlights, this financial year we have, in partnership with Aboriginal communities, delivered:

* approval for infrastructure replacements on three communities and one government facility in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands

* the continued water reuse project to green the Amata oval in the APY Lands

* a partnership with the Tia Tuckia Community to support their water service infrastructure

* an industry partnership with the Aboriginal Lands Trust to deliver community forums to discuss water and infrastructure opportunities and concerns in Aboriginal communities.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have worked as mentors for Aboriginal students through the Aboriginal STEM Congress and links with Aboriginal schools across the state.

Kaurna artist and traditional owner Paul Hertizch developed our Aboriginal Connection Branding – entitled Water Holes – which represents five regions of South Australia and pays homage to the Aboriginal connection to the waters and land on which we operate.

This financial year the water supply management for four more communities on the APY Lands was added to our supply service portfolio. Working in partnership with Kanpi, Nyapari and Watinuma Aboriginal communities, and government facilities at Murputja, we will upgrade their water supply facilities to ensure they comply with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011).

With these additional communities, we now manage water supplies for 21 remote Aboriginal communities and one government facility across the APY, Maralinga Tjarutja and Aboriginal Lands Trust lands.

Fostering innovation

To lead the way in the water industry we are embedding innovation in our culture and providing opportunities for our people to improve the way they work to deliver outcomes for customers, by establishing a progressive, self-sustaining innovative environment.

In 2017-18 we launched our internal Innovation Speaker Series, bringing insights and approaches into our business to encourage new ways of thinking and working.

Design thinking tools have been introduced using experiential learning in our innovation learning labs. These have been applied to a range of initiatives to help people identify and solve problems that matter to our customers.

Innovation also provided a means for collaboration through our Better Ways platform, designed to capture ideas from our people to improve our business and the way we work.

An early outcome was the creation of our Energy Management Team, which has developed a plan to achieve zero net electricity costs by 2020-21. Trials for land- and water-based solar photo voltaic panels are planned, as well as innovative storage solutions such as silicon thermal storage and momentum flywheels. As one of the largest electricity users in the state, the positive effects of having a zero cost energy future will be significant.

Supporting state growth

The long-term future of South Australia’s economy, society and environment guides all our decision making. Our support of state development means we actively contribute to the South Australian community by delivering commercial opportunities that benefit our customers and ensure our economic viability.

Using more recycled water through the Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme

We are Australia’s second largest recycler of water with 32 per cent of the state’s wastewater re-used to irrigate wine and horticulture regions, city park lands and for many other uses. This saves money, water and contributes to gross state product.

A significant focus this year was the $155.6 million Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme (NAIS) project, which will bring recycled water from Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant to the northern Adelaide Plains and will help grow our state’s export horticulture industry, creating investment, jobs and earnings for South Australia.

In 2017-18 the first two design and construct contracts were awarded to the Leed/Valoriza Joint Venture, and we secured agreements totalling more than two gigalitres for purchase of NAIS water once the infrastructure is complete.

Barossa water investment grows jobs and supports grapegrowers

In 2017-18, investment continued in Barossa Infrastructure Limited (BIL), a scheme supplying more than 300 vineyards with approximately 450 connections to help the region’s wine industries grow and thrive. Together with BIL, we are co-investing $24 million to deliver an extra three gigalitres per year of irrigation water.

Of this, $10.6 million is being invested to upgrade our infrastructure and improve operational efficiency of the Mannum to Adelaide Pipeline which supplies metropolitan Adelaide. The additional supplementary irrigation water, mainly supplied to existing customers, assists their business sustainability by drought-proofing and providing capacity for additional plantings.

The project has created 17 jobs during construction with 84 permanent new vineyard jobs and 90 wine production roles estimated to result from the initiative. Work is nearing completion with some increased capacity made available to customers in the 2017-18 summer.

Urban liveability

In 2017-18 our work on urban liveability solutions continued with the development of a transition plan to move Adelaide to a water sensitive city, which will now form the foundation for an integrated urban water plan.

Drawing on a successful stormwater capture and reuse scheme at Adelaide Airport, during the financial year we continued to gather evidence from the airport cooling project and urban cooling achieved through smart watering. This innovative work focuses on efficient water use, reducing wastage and quantifying the other benefits such as urban cooling and potential reduction in energy use. It has applications for customers through smart use of garden watering to reduce temperatures around households in hot South Australian summers.

Putting customer needs at the heart of decision-making

In 2017-18 we piloted a program designed to support and empower our people to respond to customers’ needs in a tailored way when they have received a poor experience. This pilot proved beneficial for customers and our people, with planning underway to extend this program across customer facing teams in 2018-19.

Our customers are diverse and have different water needs and use requirements. In response, we actively consider the services we provide and their associated costs. This ensures we provide fit-for-purpose water services that meet the various needs of our customers, be that residential or industry.

Growth in laboratory services

The Australian Water Quality Centre (AWQC), our national laboratory service, developed a capability and capacity plan to manage future growth of services from our Adelaide and Melbourne laboratories, and improve outcomes for our customers. In 2017-18 it secured new contracts which support the growth of both laboratories.

In an Australian water industry first, AWQC scientists integrated high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to their water quality analysis services in 2017-18. Using two new pieces of equipment – the ION Chef and the ION S5 – which create DNA chips and unique barcodes for organisms found in water samples, they were the first laboratory to apply this technology in the water industry.

DNA sequencing reduces the time required to perform the analysis of water samples for organisms present and provides far greater accuracy than traditional methods. It also enables a broad range of organisms, vertebrates and algae to be detected from a single sample. This molecular-based analytical technique has significant implications for public health, research, conservation efforts, and optimising processes and conditions within water and wastewater treatment plants.

In 2017-18, AWQC refreshed their branding and undertook a customer survey to improve the customer experience they deliver and ensure their services remain of value.

The AWQC exhibited in Brisbane at Australia’s international water conference and exhibition, Ozwater’18. Involvement included a product pitch and poster about new molecular technology with strong interest in the use of this technology from many companies around Australia.

Transfer of Virginia Pipeline Scheme ownership

The Virginia Pipeline Scheme (VPS) provides recycled water for horticultural irrigation in Virginia and its surrounds from the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant. Working together with TRILITY, ownership of the scheme, and the supply to about 340 customers serviced by it, transferred to us on 1 January 2018.

Since the transfer of ownership, we have established a customer service office in Virginia and engaged TRILITY to operate and maintain the 142 kilometres of water mains delivering up to 20 gigalitres of recycled water each year.

Morgan Water Treatment Plant wins state’s top drop

In July 2017, water from the Morgan Water Treatment Plant was judged the best tasting tap water in South Australia for the second year in a row at the Water Industry Operators Association of Australia’s ‘Water Interest’ day.

A panel of water industry experts from across the country judged samples from around South Australia at the event which showcases the quality of water produced in the state, and educates people about where their water comes from.

Creating a zero cost energy future

In December 2017 we announced plans to invest in energy generation and storage with the aim of achieving zero net electricity costs by 2020-21. Sustainably reducing operational expenses such as electricity will help us keep water service charges as low and stable as possible for our customers.

The 2020 target is being progressed through a range of complementary initiatives that see mature technologies embraced for immediate impact, complemented by testing a range of emerging technologies in partnership with local and international providers.

Solar and storage trial at Crystal Brook

A 100 kilowatt solar photo-voltaic and 50 kilowatt hour battery storage system was installed as a trial at our Crystal Brook depot to increase its energy self-sufficiency and reduce site running costs. The success of this $500 000 trial will help determine whether to adopt this type of energy storage at other sites across the state.

Predictive energy management

Also during the financial year, in light of no off-the-shelf solution being available worldwide, we developed a Predictive Data Analytics and Optimisation solution in-house that was implemented to optimise the performance of our energy assets and predict when to generate, store, sell, or buy.

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