Dr Mike Kelly,
Parliamentary Secretary
for Water, Australia
 
Canberra, Australia — (METERING.COM) — April 7, 2009 – As a result of water restrictions and other demand management measures the total residential water supplied by Australia’s urban water utilities has decreased by 21 percent from 2002–3 to 2007–8, despite the number of connected properties growing by over 9 percent over the same period, the country’s latest national water utility performance report has found.

In 2007-8 Australia’s 61 urban water utilities supplied a total of 1,000 Gl of water, down from almost 1,250 Gl in 2002-3 and 1,100 Gl in 2006-7.

Utilities with more than 100,000 connected properties supplied an average 173 kl per property during the year (range 128 kl to 268 kl). Utilities with 50,000 to 100,000 connected properties supplied an average 161 kl per property (range 127 kl to 251 kl). Utilities with 20,000 to 50,000 connected properties supplied an average 230 kl per property (range 144 kl to 480 kl). Utilities with 10,000 to 20,000 connected properties supplied an average 237 kl per property (range 71 kl to 563 kl).

The average residential bills for water and sewerage were from $658 (range $446 to $866, for utilities with more than 100,000 connected properties), to $871 (range $699 to $1,051, utilities with 10,000 to 20,000 connected properties).

Average real losses ranged from 68 l/service connection/day (utilities with more than 100,000 connections) up to 110 l/service connection/day (utilities with 10,000 to 20,000 connected properties). The largest losses of 233 l/service connection/day were recorded by Alice Springs Power &Water while the lowest losses of 8 l/service connection/day were recorded by Westernport Water (both in the 10,000 to 20,000 connected property range), the latter the result of relatively low water deliveries due to the region’s highly seasonal population. In most cases losses were down on the previous year.

The average duration of unplanned interruptions ranged from 96 minutes (utilities with 20,000 to 50,000 connected properties) up to 123 minutes (utilities with more than 100,000 connected properties), with a range from 34 minutes (Aqwest-Bunbury (W)) to 210 minutes (Port Macquarie Hastings).

As for customer complaints these ranged from 12 to 40 per 1,000 properties, with a low of 1 (Gold Coast Water) and a high of 107 (Bathurst). For most of the utilities the majority of complaints pertained to water quality, water service or sewerage service, but for three utilities (Sydney Water, City West Water, GWMWater) the majority of complaints pertained to billing and account issues.

Furthermore, on average more than 83 percent of customer calls were answered by an operator within 30 seconds, with 100 percent achieved at two utilities, Shoalhaven Water and Wingecarribee, but only 56 percent at Hunter Water.

In all 33 indicators are reviewed in the report for benchmarking and comparison on water resources, assets, customer service, pricing, the environment, health and finance.

“It is encouraging to see Australia’s urban water utilities working so hard to secure our cities’ growing water needs, and to adapt to climate change and a future with less water,” said the Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Dr Mike Kelly, at the launch of the report as well as a second report collating data on rural water providers.

“The reports I am releasing today show that Australia’s water utilities and providers are playing a key role in securing our water needs for the future. At the same time, the industry is improving its performance in vital areas including health, customer service, asset management, environment, finance and pricing.”

The urban water report was prepared by the National Water Commission, state and territory governments, and the Water Services Association of Australia. The rural report was prepared by the Commission and state governments.