Assisting and promoting regional collaboration is a primary function of LGAQ and qldwater. The two organisations have been working jointly on regional collaboration initiatives for the urban water industry since 2006 and this program was expanded in June 2010 with a joint Memorandum of Understanding with the Queensland Government (now the Department of Energy and Water Supply or DEWS).
Regional collaboration was called into focus strongly in early 2011 with the release of the three national reviews of the urban water industry that were critical of Queensland and NSW water sectors. For example, the Productivity Commission called for Queensland and NSW State Governments to review institutional arrangements to seek greater economies of scale for water service providers.
LGAQ has responded by developing an industry-led review of potential collaborative arrangements and has successfully sought funding support from the State until December 2014. The aim of the Program is to determine the risks and benefits of different collaboration models. Three pilot regions self-selected to take part in QWRAP and have been joined by a fourth group (Whitsunday ROC) as part of the extension of the project in October 2013.
The project is now being implemented by LGAQ which has appointed qldwater as program manager. QWRAP seeks to develop new joint approaches for water and sewerage management across the state where potential benefits and disadvantages of change can be investigated. The aim is to ensure sustainable, secure, safe services that are affordable for Queensland communities.
The program allows for review and support processes in four pilot regions. The following regions agreed to participate in the project.
Region 1 - RAPAD
The Remote Area Planning and Development Board (RAPAD) group of councils confirmed their participation in the program in 2011. The participating councils in the pilot study were Barcaldine, Longreach, Boulia, Diamantina, Barcoo and Winton. In 2013 all participants except Winton agreed to develop the Outback Regional Water Alliance – a recommendation from their QWRAP investigation. Initiation of the Alliance was facilitated with State funding provided by the Improving Financial Management and Sustainability Scheme (IFMSS) pool from the Department of Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience in 2014. This project with a total value of $196,000 focussed on establishment activities for the Alliance and also undertook a range of projects that demonstrated financial and other benefits for the councils working collaboratively.
RAPAD members may access the restricted QWRAP-RAPAD page here
Region 2 - FNQROC
The Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQRoC) includes Cassowary Coast, Cairns, Etheridge, Croydon, Cook, Douglas, Mareeba and Tablelands Regional Councils. The group completed a detailed study of the potential for alternative institutional arrangements across the region in 2013. The report concluded that benefits for several of the councils and their communities would be possible through development of joint services but recommended further investigation to quantify the benefits. The FNQROC is seeking further support to continue the investigation.
Region 3 - WBBROC
The Wide Bay Burnet Regional Organisation of Councils consists of North Burnett, Bundaberg, Gympie, South Burnett and Fraser Coast Regional Councils. The group commenced their QWRAP investigation in 2013 and also attracted IFMSS funding in 2014 to support the development of some case study collaboration projects.
Region 4 - Whitsunday ROC
The Whitsunday Regional Organisation of Councils, comprising Whitsunday, Mackay and Isaac Regional Councils, commenced their QWRAP investigation in early in 2014.