Water Utilities Alliance
Recognised by the Productivity Commission, our national award winning Water Utilities’ Alliance aims to achieve 100% Best Practice in secure and quality water supplies and sewerage services to 2059 in the context of climate change.
Working collaboratively the region is delivering programming that saves member Councils money, grows expertise and shares resources.
The CNSWJO Board calls on the State and Federal Government to work with Local Government in this region and build on the extensive strategic effort already undertaken to identify and implement infrastructure solutions for water security. This should include the development of more water storage in Central NSW.
Water Utilities Alliance Project Background
Since its inception in 2009 the Alliance has achieved cost savings, efficiencies and built capability in its members through joint procurement of regional contracts for asset management, auditing and benchmarking, operator training and strategic water planning and management.
Through the drought the Joint Organisation and its Alliance supported its members in emergency water management including network planning, water sharing arrangements, infrastructure prioritisation and advocacy.
While supporting the need for investment in water infrastructure, Alliance programming aims to optimise the operation of existing infrastructure through auditing and identification of low-cost, high impact operational improvements supported by operator training.
CNSWJO member Councils are proud to deliver secure quality water supplies and sewerage services to their communities as a good value proposition.
The objectives of the CWUA are to effectively:
- deliver cost savings and other efficiencies
- grow staff skills and ensure workforce are adequately trained for compliance based service delivery
- support members in assuring sustainable workforce
- promote local government as the agency of choice delivering water utilities management in regional NSW and further afield
- advise the CNSWJO Board regarding water utilities’ management
- deliver full compliance with Best Practice requirements
- implement regional Best Practice strategies; and
- promote the CWUA as an example of Councils working collaboratively.
For more detail on the CNSWJO Water Utilities Alliance contact: Meredith Macpherson, Program Manager, CNSWJO Water Utilities Alliance at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Water Projects
Regional Water Strategies – The CNSWJO and its member Councils continue to work with the state government on the development of the Regional Water Strategies for the Lachlan and Macquarie-Castlereagh catchments. A priority has been the integration of town water into the state government’s strategic water planning framework. Negotiations with the State on a collaborative structure to enable delivery of the RWSs continues. The implementation plan and governance structure to enable the delivery of the Regional Water Strategy options remains critical.
A Strategic Regional Water Committee comprising Mayors and GMs has been formed. Advocacy through the Regional Water Strategy development is for an implementation plan and governance structure to enable the delivery of strategy options. This implementation plan would identify actions in the first two years and a review process and is predicated on shared data and modelling and a collaborative approach to, for example, ground water studies.
The Water & Wastewater Operators Training Project. The JO Board recognises that a trained and competent workforce is one of the cornerstones for a water utility in the reduction of risk to public health and the environment from their water, wastewater and recycled water operations. The JO water operators training program has been a decade in the making. Over the past 7 years the JO has identified the training needs of 46 Water Operators and 52 Wastewater Operators across 9 of its member Councils and sourced and co-ordinated the delivery of accredited training in the region for a total of 767 units of competency from the nationally accredited training system. In addition, the CNSWJO has sought training to the requirements of the National Certification Framework administered by the Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA).
JO Board policy has been for quality, accredited and WIOA certified training to demonstrate best practice compliance based delivery of safe, fit-for-purpose drinking water to their communities as well as wastewater management. Operator training has also been undertaken to:
- Demonstrate leadership and best practice
- Ensure each council has skilled staff
- Develop a process for workforce planning
- Develop a sound business case for funding applications.
Performance Monitoring Auditing & Benchmarking Program. Alliance members subscribe to a two yearly Independent Performance Monitoring Audit as a means of driving performance improvements across member’s LWUs. The audit reviews key data sets submitted to the DPE (Water) by councils for the Annual Performance Report. The purpose is to assess the integrity of the data collected and reported, upon which operational, management and significant capital decisions are based. Audit reports make recommendations on improvements to data reliability and highlight areas where councils would benefit from a detailed review. While the audit is not mandatory for councils other than Bathurst and Orange, it is part of an over-arching strategy to build quantitative data about the performance of the Alliance and to track improvements from programming.
Drinking Water Management System Audits. This program demonstrates the Board’s commitment to the delivery of best practice compliant drinking water to the region’s towns and is in keeping with plans by NSW Health to implement mandatory independent audits of Drinking Water Management Systems. Through their membership fees, Alliance members with responsibility for drinking water have committed to a two-yearly program of external audits of Drinking Water Management Systems.
Regional memberships of water industry associations. The Alliance has negotiated cost savings through offers from peak industry associations for one-in-all-in regional memberships. Alliance members are party to a regional membership of the Water Services Association of Australia and the Australian Water Association. These provide good value to members in being able to access a wide range of industry services and products designed to help utilities provide quality services to their communities at a greatly reduced rate.
Smart Water. Alliance members achieve cost savings through a regional subscription to Smart Water Advice, a customised water efficiency resource for councils and water utilities. Smart Water Advice provides professional ready to go water efficient information and tools that can be rebranded and delivered for each council for their communities. Content is embedded or linked to council’s websites and social platforms. Smart Water reduces the time and cost for members of designing and producing collateral individually with costs shared for new resources. The Alliance have been members of Smart Water since its inception in 2016 and prior to that subscribed to its predecessor the Save Water Alliance.
National Asset Management Assessment. In 2019 a regional project procured a third party to run the National Asset Management Assessment Framework (NAMAF) across Central NSW JO member Councils inclusive of all asset classes to improve asset management practices. All NAMAF assessments have been completed and a workshop held to review outcomes from a regional perspective. Opportunities to work collectively on asset management improvements are being scoped.
Town Water Risk Reduction Program. This Program aims to work with the town water sector to identify long-term solutions to improve outcomes and service delivery and reduce risks for Local Water Utilities. This JO has been represented on the Strategic Planning Working Group and the Skills and Training Focus Group. It also initiated a pilot project to co-design a regional approach to Integrated Water Cycle Management planning by councils to bridge the gap between the Regional Water Strategies and local level planning required by Councils.
Central West Orana and Central Tablelands Drought Task Group. This JO was actively engaged in this now disbanded group through the drought. Concerns are that with recent rainfall taking the pressure off in some parts of the state, the State Government is stepping back its drought response.
Responses are prepared regularly to various reviews and inquiries relating to water on behalf of the region.