As shown in an independent annual report released this week on Australia’s water organisations, SA Water continues to perform favourably amongst its peers – the larger utilities with 100,000 of more customers – in areas such as customer service and recycled water supply.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s National Performance Report (NPR) 2018-19: urban water utilities analyses the performance of 85 utilities, councils and bulk water authorities across the country, including SA Water.
SA Water continued a downward trend in the number of customer complaints in 2018-19, with a 9.1 per cent decrease from the previous year. It also consistently reports one of the best results in responding to customer calls, with close to 90 per cent of calls last year answered within 30 seconds.
|Measure||Result||Change from 2017-18 (%)||Ranking/15 (lower better)|
|Total complaints, water and sewerage (per 1000 properties)||2||-9.1||3|
|Percentage of calls answered by an operator within 30 seconds||85.9%||+0.6||2|
|Annual combined water and sewerage bill (based on 200 kilolitres)||$1301||+0.2||7|
|Water main breaks and leaks (per 100 kilometres of main)||15||+10.3||7/14|
|Sewerage main breaks and chokes (per 100 kilometres of main)||46||+7.0||12|
|Total net greenhouse gas emissions (net tonnes CO2 equivalents per 1000 connected water properties)||426||+41.1||12/13|
|Total recycled water supplied (megalitres)||32,312||+9.8||2|
The report shows there is room for improvement in SA Water’s management of water and sewer main faults, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
SA Water’s General Manager of Customers, Strategy and Innovation Anna Jackson said its current and planned investment in energy and network management is well aligned to improve performance for customers and the environment.
“Our initiative to achieve a zero cost energy future is recognition of the need to reduce our environmental footprint while sustainably lowering operational expenses.
“We’re making good progress towards this goal through a range of complementary projects including increasing renewable energy generation and storage, driving efficiencies and making smarter decisions around energy use.
“A key component of the initiative is the installation of 500,000 solar panels at around 35 SA Water sites across the state, with 113,000 of these panels already ground or roof-mounted.
“Our high electricity bill in 2018-19 – $83 million – is attributed to more energy-intensive pumping and treatment required for increased water demand and lower reservoir inflows during last year’s dry summer and winter.
“For the factors within our control, we continue to use renewable energy to sustainably reduce both our environmental impact and operational expenses, and as part of the Zero Cost Energy Future program, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 89,000 tonnes per year.”
Record high temperatures and below average rainfall experienced across most of Australia last financial year also impacted several other areas of operation for many water utilities.
“With residents and businesses using more water for irrigation during warm weather, we supplied our highest volume of recycled water in the past five years – more than 32 million litres – with our 2018-19 total second only to Sydney Water,” Anna said.
“Amongst utilities of similar size to SA Water, more than half recorded an increase in the number of water and sewer main breaks in 2018-19, compared to the previous year.
“The primary influence was consistently dry conditions resulting in more ground movement impacting underground pipes, and the report shows this was experienced across Australia.
“As recommended through a recent independent review commissioned by the SA Water Board, we are actioning several initiatives to improve our approach to water main management, such as installing smart sensor technology on arterial roads.
“In 2020-24, we plan to expand our smart water and wastewater network of sensors and loggers, which are currently operating in a combined total of seven targeted locations around the state.
“Since it began operating in 2017, the Adelaide CBD smart water network has successfully detected more than half of all water main leaks and breaks to enable proactive repair before they impact customers and commuters.”
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