Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Australia's water industry adapts to changing conditions

Media release
3 April 2012
DF12/016

The National Water Commission today released its latest annual reports on the performance of Australia's urban water utilities and rural water service providers.

Releasing the two reports, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell said the wet conditions of the last two years, following severe drought, demonstrates the challenge of delivering water services in Australia.

"The urban report shows that the water industry is performing well in delivering water and wastewater services to 18.7 million Australians, including very high quality drinking water.

"The rural report demonstrates that investment in infrastructure renewal to modernise irrigation networks and install new metering technologies is boosting efficiency and reducing water losses."

The reports also note that water availability increased dramatically during 2010/11, when some of the most significant flooding in our recorded history occurred over eastern Australia. At the same time a number of major water security projects were completed.

Senator Farrell said the Commission's work continues to be valuable.

"I recently introduced a Bill proposing to continue the National Water Commission, subject to endorsement by the Council of Australian Governments. These reports demonstrate how the Commission contributes greatly by providing good quality information on the performance of the organisations that deliver our water."

Acting Chair of the National Water Commission, Stuart Bunn said, "Australia's water service providers and jurisdictions provide vital leadership in developing these reports.

"The Australian water sector has a chance to take stock before storages are again tested by drought. Although considerable gains have been made, we need renewed and forward-looking reform to ensure our water supplies remain safe and reliable.

"In particular, the Commission believes there is scope for further reforms that set clearer water security objectives, promote better customer choice, and send clearer price signals."

Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia, Adam Lovell, said "During the drought, our urban water utilities invested in new water infrastructure and efficiency programs to secure future diversified supplies. Typical residential bills reflect these investments and rising operating costs.

"The fall in demand for water has softened the impact of the price increases on consumers.

"Despite challenging conditions however, water quality and sewerage services were maintained. All urban water utilities serving mainland capital cities achieved 100 per cent microbiological compliance."

The urban report includes information from 79 utilities that supply approximately 18.7 million Australians with their urban water. It was prepared by the National Water Commission, all state and territory governments, and the Water Services Association of Australia.

The rural report, produced in conjunction with state governments, covers 13 rural water service providers representing 90 per cent of Australia's rural network water supply. Both reports are available online at www.nwc.gov.au