Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Improving the performance of Australia's water utilities

Media release
14 April 2011
DF11/010

Two National Water Commission reports on the performance Australia’s urban water utilities and rural water service providers have been released today.

Launching these annual ‘report cards’, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell, said they provide important benchmarks that allow consumers to make informed judgments about whether their water needs are being efficiently and sustainably met.

“Governments, industries and the community have a vital interest in obtaining good quality information on the performance of the organisations that deliver our water,” Senator Farrell said.

“Both the urban and the rural reports chart some positive changes for the Australian water industry in the 2009–10 reporting year, driven in part by the increased rainfall that we have seen recently across much of eastern Australia.”

As the urban water utilities report demonstrates, rising storage levels have allowed most utilities to ease restrictions or move to permanent water conservation measures, leading to slightly increased household consumption in 2009-10.

According to National Water Commission Chair Chloe Munro, “The industry’s sustained investment in infrastructure has improved the longer-term water security outlook by bringing online new water supply sources that are better able to withstand future climate shocks.”

Water Services Association of Australia Acting Executive Director Adam Lovell said the urban report shows that typical residential bills increased on average in 2009-10.

“This reflects increased water consumption, as well as the industry’s significant capital investments and rising operating costs,” he said.

In regional Australia, the rural water service report has found that water infrastructure is being transformed, largely through the progressive piping of open channel carrier networks, which is improving water delivery efficiency and reducing water losses.

“Many of these investments in infrastructure renewal are being supported by the Australian Government as part of the $5.8 billion Sustainable Rural Infrastructure program under our $12.9 billion Water for the Future plan”, Senator Farrell said.

The National Performance Report 2009–2010: urban water utilities report includes information from 79 utilities that supply approximately 18.3 million Australians with their urban water. This report was prepared by the National Water Commission, all state and territory governments, and the Water Services Association of Australia.

The National Performance Report 2009–10: rural water service providers, which was prepared by the Commission in conjunction with state governments, covers thirteen rural water service providers representing 90% of Australia’s rural network water supply.

Both reports are available online at www.nwc.gov.au