Annual report

Annual report

2019-20 Annual Report

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 2020.

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

A message from the Chair

In a time of great change and challenge in our community, country and around the world, water services remain essential.

This year everyone’s ability to adapt has been tested and the Board and I are proud to report that the Corporation’s efforts to maintain services and support customers  through bushfires and a global pandemic has been exceptional, thanks to the commitment and dedication of our people.

A reliable supply of safe clean drinking water and dependable sewerage services are fundamental to our health, public amenity and our economy. In addition to delivering our services and investing in new and upgraded infrastructure, we have also fulfilled responsibilities in the State Emergency Centre during the summer’s bushfires and supported the South Australian Government response to COVID-19. A key focus this year has also been to implement a heightened cyberattack protection and resilience capability to combat the ever increasing threat arising in this area.

Throughout, the safety and wellbeing of our people, customers and the community remained a priority. The safety culture in SA Water continues to be strong and it is pleasing to see a downward trend in the all injury frequency rate and high potential incident frequency rate.

Support for residential, business and commercial customers has been equally critical, with many feeling the impact of bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. The state

government’s announcement of a significant reduction to water prices from July 2020 will enable a lower cost of living with no reduction to levels of service. Both residential and business customers will benefit from lower water prices with 36,145 visitors using the savings estimator on the SA Water website in June 2020. This has been made possible in no small part by the efficiencies achieved by our people in improving work practices and exploiting new technologies together with the Corporation’s very comprehensive submission to the Essential Services Commission of South Australia to assist them in preparing their final determinations.

Our focus on the wider contribution SA Water makes to our state has also been maintained. We have continued to invest in renewable energy generation as part of our commitment to sustainability and to reducing the cost to produce and deliver safe clean drinking water.

This year 150,000 solar photovoltaic panels were installed at sites across the state with effective forward planning ensuring this and other critical equipment were received ahead of schedule, mitigating any construction delays from the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the year, the Board commissioned an independent review and comparison of SA Water’s water main management practices against global best practices, the findings of which have now been implemented and will lead to a further reduction in water main leak and break disruptions to the community.

SA Water has played a pivotal role in implementing the government’s reservoir opening policy and now manages the critical operations to support this initiative.

The Corporation is also stepping up its commitment to reconciliation, with a new stretch Reconciliation Action Plan developed for 2020-23.

Recognising the need to respond to economic, social and technological change, the Board has also started work on a new business strategy. This will ensure we continue to adapt and prepare for the future and meet the expectations of our customers. I look forward to sharing our vision and direction in the coming year.

Building on our proud history, we remain committed to delivering services that underpin a strong future for our business, our customers and the state of South Australia.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of my fellow Board members and our new Chief Executive, David Ryan, for their leadership, commitment and dedication to the Corporation.

Andrew Fletcher AO
Chair of the Board

A message from the Chief Executive

Continuity of essential water and wastewater services to our customers through a period of significant change has been our focus throughout the year.

At the end of the 2016-20 regulatory period, our team delivered on commitments to customers, with a consistently strong performance meeting our service standards and the efficiency targets set for us by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia.

Our Plan 2020-24 was submitted to the Essential Services Commission of South Australia in early November 2019 and during the next regulatory period we are proud to deliver customer bill savings, which is great news for our customers. The large and varied investment program outlined in the plan will result in upgrades to water and sewerage mains, expansion of our smart networks, building new seawater desalination plants to provide water security, and upgrading Mount Bold Reservoir.

Through this program of works, we will continue to maintain and improve services for our customers while pursuing efficiency in our delivery and operations.

This financial year, 40 gigalitres of water for metropolitan Adelaide was supplied from the Adelaide Desalination Plant completing stage one of the Water for Fodder program funded by the federal government. The plant’s operation model ensured it easily met the required demand with a seamless supply experience for our metropolitan customers.

An increase in water sales through a low rain fall summer, reduced electricity costs, operational efficiencies, and savings through reduced interest rates contributed to our strong financial performance this year, delivering a return above budget.

The opening of South Para Reservoir Reserve in late 2019 brought a new outdoor adventure offering to the southern Barossa region with more than 5,200 visitors enjoying the rugged landscape in the first six months. Around 33,000 people visited Myponga Reservoir Reserve in 2019-20, with shore-based fishing introduced in December 2019. Through the cross-government taskforce, we continue to work closely with the community and government agencies on this priority initiative.

Investment in technology through smart water and wastewater networks helps with early leak detection and reduces disruption for customers, and our newly completed wastewater treatment plant at Murray Bridge received a national sustainability award recognising excellence in all aspects of the project and its cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits.

Customers are embracing digital service options with eBilling numbers continuing to increase with 154,054 properties registered to receive eBills, up from 100,847 in 2018-19, and WebChat introduced for quick, online customer interactions.

With teams based right across the state, our people are part of the communities they serve, with strong connections in regional and remote South Australia. Our community involvement continues to build trusted partnerships. They include using recycled water to create an AFL-standard oval at Amata in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of far north South Australia.

A focus on diversity and inclusion continued and we made achievements in celebrating diversity of thought, experience and background among our people. This includes the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment at 2.6 per cent, and two internal network groups supporting women and LGBTIQ+ people in our workforce.

Using a harm-based approach, our safety focus continues with emphasis on preventing potential or actual life altering events so our people remain safe: everybody, every job, every day. This year our all injury frequency rate reduced by 30 per cent to 19.52, compared to 27.72 in 2018-19 and our high potential incident frequency rate reduced to 1.56, an improvement of more than 50 per cent on our 2018-19 result of 3.96. Safety and wellbeing are consistently featured in our team discussions, both what we are doing well and improvement opportunities.

Our annual Innovation and Excellence Awards recognised and celebrated the contributions of our people, from opening reservoir reserves and pursuing a zero cost energy future, through to building strong and respectful relationships with Aboriginal communities and improved management of environmental risks. Our commitment as a participant in the United Nations Global Compact is reaffirmed as we continue to work towards delivering services and achieving positive outcomes for our community and the planet. As part of this commitment, we are a signatory to the Australian water industry’s commitment to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

While during the COVID-19 pandemic there may be a greater element of uncertainty about the future, our people continue to innovate and adapt to proudly deliver the essential water and wastewater services 1.7 million South Australians rely upon.

David Ryan
Chief Executive

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are part of a global development blueprint through to 2030. They are universal,  transcend borders and apply across the workplace, marketplace and community. They seek to reduce poverty, inequality, unrest and environmental stress around the world. Water, essential to life, plays an integral role to achieving each goal.

We are a signatory to the Australian water industry’s commitment to support the SDGs as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. We are doing our part to achieve these goals while delivering world class water services for a better life.

This year we joined as a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative which exists to implement universal sustainability principles and support progress towards achieving the SDGs.

As a participant in the Global Compact, we are actively involved in achieving the SDGs. There are 170 Australian businesses and organisations supporting the Global Compact with 30 signed up as participants, and the remainder as signatories. Participants pledge to:

  • operate responsibly, in alignment with universal sustainability principles
  • take actions that support the society around them
  • commit to the effort from the organisation’s highest level
  • report annually on their ongoing efforts
  • engage locally where they have a presence.

The Global Compact supports businesses and organisations to be guided by the Ten Principles of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to contribute to the 17 SDGs.