Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Water industry steps up performance and secures supplies

Media release
21 March 2013

Australia's water industry is surging ahead in its efforts to secure safe and reliable water for consumers, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell said today.

Releasing two National Water Commission reports on the industry's operation in 2011-12, Senator Farrell said they show sustained improvements in water quality, delivery efficiency and water conservation.

"The urban report tells us that 94% of urban water utilities reported 100% compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines or licence conditions, 10% above last year's report. This demonstrates that Australian water standards continue to be world-class," Senator Farrell said.

"The rural report shows that delivery efficiency remains at a record high of 83%, reflecting gains from investment in channel lining, network reconfigurations, and better metering and technology.

"Further efficiency advances are likely in future years as a result of the Australian Government's $5.8 billion Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Program."

Commission Chair Karlene Maywald said it was particularly pleasing to see the continuing trend in water conservation.

"Notwithstanding population growth, Australia's urban areas are using significantly less water now than when these national reports were first produced seven years ago. Despite expanding urban boundaries, city-dwellers are using eight per cent less than they were in 2005-06.

"This demonstrates that the efficiency and conservation measures introduced during drought times have resonated with water users.

"Recycled water supply has also increased by four per cent, further indicating that a focus on recycled water as an alternative supply is becoming more attractive and is yet another option for governments and water utilities looking to diversity their water sources."

Ms Maywald said while the news in the reports is encouraging, the findings also provide the industry with an incentive to strive for further innovation, improved practice, and efficiency gains.

Water Services Association of Australia Executive Director, Adam Lovell, said the sector has worked hard to invest in new infrastructure to secure supplies.

"The industry wants to be recognised by customers as the most trusted efficient and valued service providers they deal with. This involves continuing to improve productivity, the liveability of our communities and health," Mr Lovell said.

These reports are produced each year to annually benchmark pricing and service quality and to do so independently and publicly.

The urban report provides data from 80 reporting utilities servicing 83% of the Australian population and is prepared by the National Water Commission, all state and territory governments, and the Water Services Association of Australia. The rural report covers 11 rural water service providers and is produced in conjunction with state governments.

Both reports are available online at the National Water Commission's website