Annual Reports

Annual Reports

A message from the Chair

SA Water has continued to do what it is meant to do – provide essential water and wastewater services to South Australian communities.

The 2022-2023 year has been an especially challenging year. Costs of doing business have risen sharply. Our energy costs, like those of households, have skyrocketed, and inflationary pressures have bitten. In addition, the cost of building new infrastructure and repairing old, has increased well beyond the Consumer Price Index. Materials are in short supply and there is a labour shortage.

The exceptional flood event in the River Murray placed additional demands on the organisation’s capabilities and our people rose to the challenge by providing outstanding service throughout. SA Water has been able to navigate these challenges and perform to expectation. It has met important service standards and delivered a financial dividend to government. However, more serious challenges lie ahead. The troubled water sector in the United Kingdom provides a warning we need to heed. Water utilities in the UK were privatised in the hope that they would deliver better value for money.

However, there has been widespread public dissatisfaction as the industry has performed poorly. Wastewater has leaked and overflowed causing significant public nuisance and environmental degradation. Analysts have attributed this to a serious lack of investment in repairing and replacing aging infrastructure, and in technology to meet contemporary standards.

The UK regulatory regime also comes in for sober criticism in that it has allowed debt levels to rise appreciably, failed to invest in infrastructure to keep pace with demand, and yet at the same time, paid significant dividends to owners.

The lesson for South Australia from the UK experience is to take notice of where under-investment leads. We need to ensure our infrastructure is fit for purpose and maintained in serviceable condition. If it isn’t then we will suffer a similar fate to the UK.

SA Water is in public ownership. We have an independent regulator that determines whether its business plans are prudent and efficient, the amount of revenue the business can earn and hence spend, and the service standards SA Water is required to meet. This model can serve us well. The challenge for the SA government is, however, more complex. It is mindful of the impact of water bills on customers when the cost-of-living is rising steeply, the level of state debt incurred when money is borrowed to fund capital works, and competing demands for other public services.

The Board of SA Water is responsible for the good governance of the Corporation, and it has a critical role to put the case to government for sound investment and expenditure to run the SA Water business. As the next period of regulation begins in 2024, the Board and government will strive to find the right balance.

To conclude, I acknowledge the contribution of all Board directors, and John Bastian, in particular, as his term concluded in August 2022. I thank David Ryan, our Chief Executive, and his outstanding executive team for their dedication and leadership of the Corporation. Finally, to the staff and partners of SA Water, thank you for your dedication and service to all South Australians.

Allan Holmes
Chair of the Board

A message from the Chief Executive

The past year has presented significant challenges for our business and I’ve seen our people respond with great focus and purpose in order to deliver for our customers and community.

In a changing economic environment, with cost of living pressures affecting our community and our business, I’m enormously proud of how our people have continued to ensure essential water services for South Australians. This has been achieved while responding to the major flooding event along the River Murray.

We have performed strongly against our customer service standards which track how we’re meeting our customers’ expectations. In particular, it has been pleasing to see customer satisfaction at 96 per cent against our target of 93 per cent, and first contact resolution at 100 per cent, well above our target of 85 per cent. These achievements reflect the excellence our people show in their work every day.

Our capital delivery performance has been strong, with significant progress made on critical projects including work on the new seawater desalination plant at Penneshaw on Kangaroo Island. Construction on the plant’s structure is complete and work on pipelines well underway. Our Board reaffirmed its commitment to Billy Lights Point as the preferred location for a desalination plant to ensure water security for the Eyre Peninsula. Our teams continue to work closely with the local communities on Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula to deliver these important projects.

Water quality in remote communities has been improved with a reverse osmosis desalination plant delivered for Kaltjiti in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands. A small-scale desalination plant has also been delivered for the community of Oodnadatta.

In addition to maintaining and improving our day-to-day operations and managing a changing external environment, our response to the River Murray flood event was outstanding.

This once-in-a-generation flooding event was the largest seen in the river since 1956. Our people rose to the challenge to keep our customers and communities safe; protect our water and wastewater assets to prevent or reduce damage; and maintain the highest levels of service possible for the largest number of customers possible.

Our coordinated and planned approach to the flood event saw more than 100,000 customers protected from service impacts. Significant community engagement was undertaken, particularly in Mannum, to support customers who were proactively disconnected from the sewer network to protect the town’s wider network from flood inundation. With engagement coordinated seamlessly with our operational response, we maintained positive relationships with the community through this difficult time.

Water quality monitoring was crucial to managing flood impacts on our many customers who rely on the river as the source of their drinking water. Additional sampling, testing and analysis services provided assurance throughout the flood. We contributed to the wider state response through the State Emergency Centre and as lead for the state government’s Engineering Functional Support Group.

Throughout the flood event, we took care of our people by managing the new and evolving health and safety risks the flood presented.

Health and safety leadership training delivered this year was a success, supporting our leaders and developing their safety mindset, and helping keep our people safe and well at work.

Throughout all this, our financial performance remained strong with a $237.1 million contribution to the government to further support our state’s economy.

As 2022-23 came to an end, we had our sights on the future as we prepared for our next regulatory period, 2024-28. Our Regulatory Business Plan was submitted to our economic regulator, the Essential Services Commission of South Australia, in August. Incorporating robust customer research and engagement, our plan outlines our proposed areas for investment in the 2024-28 regulatory period.

Work also progressed with partners and stakeholders on developing a strategy to ensure a resilient water future for Greater Adelaide, ensuring water security over the coming 50 years. Demand for water will increase while our drying climate will reduce available sources and we are working now to ensure Greater Adelaide will be resilient in the face of future uncertainty and extreme weather.

I thank our people for the incredible work they’ve delivered this year, and their dedication to our customers and community. Their tireless efforts have delivered outstanding outcomes, many of which are detailed in this report.

Thanks also goes to Allan Holmes and our Board Directors who continue to support and guide our organisation to deliver trusted water services for a healthy and sustainable South Australia.

David Ryan
Chief Executive

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Polkinghorns Rd
  • Arthurton
  • 18/06/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 18/06/2020 03:05 PM - We are attending to an incident in Arthurton with no interruption to the water supply. The safety of our crews and customers comes first, and we always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as quickly as we can. Reference Number WO: 07505663.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Spruance Rd
  • Elizabeth East
  • 11/06/2021
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 15/06/2021 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 15/06/2021 04:00 PM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Elizabeth East. Sometimes our crews need to temporarily interrupt the water supply to our customers and/or manage traffic while they are working. Temporary traffic management may remain in place until reinstatement of the impacted road is complete. We always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as safely and quickly as we can.

  • See all scheduled works