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 three national reviews of the urban water industrythat 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 responded by developing an industry-led review of potential collaborative arrangements and, with initial funding support from the State until December 2014, appointed qldwater as program manager. In late 2014 the State government extended the QWRAP for a further six months with an additional grant of $130,000. As well as continuing the program, this pool provided seed funding allowing each of the four regions to commence additional high priority projects identified through their QWRAP collaborations.
Continuation of QWRAP was raised as one of the high priority projects in the LGAQ ten-point plan which requested ongoing funding for three years. All three major parties acknowledged the value of the program and committed to continuing the program, with the ALP committing to $600,000 per year for the following three years. The details of the ongoing program were then negotiated with DEWS and included expansion to additional regions.
The program has created the first formal opportunity for Queensland councils to discuss regional water and sewerage management opportunities, including alternative institutional models and water reform.
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.