Reviews of the Water Industry

Reviews of the Water Industry

Three national reviews of the urban water sector were undertaken independently by different Commonwealth agencies in late 2010 and early 2011. All three examined the Queensland industry in SEQ and regional Queensland and each was critical of the industry structure. 

The first review was by Infrastructure Australia (IA) and recommended sweeping changes to the Queensland and NSW local government water industries but lacked broad analysis or consultation with the industry. A second report limited to smaller service providers (as part of a series of reviews by the National Water Commission) was more balanced but also lacked meaningful consultation with the Queensland industry. It too recommended the need for sweeping changes, including reform of Queensland’s regional services.

The third report based on an inquiry by the Productivity Commission (PC) was released in draft form for further consultation in April 2011 and a full response was collated by qldwater with a complementary response from LGAQ (see below). In general, the PC inquiry sought meaningful input from a broad range of stakeholders and was more thorough than the other reviews. It openly recognised the necessary diversity of water management approaches nationally. Nevertheless, the report called for significant change to the Queensland regional industry:

"There is a strong case for undertaking aggregation of small water and wastewater utilities in regional areas of New South Wales and Queensland. The precise approach — including identification of affected councils and the preferred grouping of councils — should be assessed and determined by relevant State Governments, in consultation with Local Governments and affected communities. This process should consider the relative merits of alternative organisational structures, including county council, regional water corporation or regional alliance (or regional organisation of councils)."

The qldwater response to the Draft Report of the PC Inquiry is available below and focuses on errors in information provided about the Queensland industry and the need to acknowledge highly performing service providers across the state and only seek change where real cost benefit analysis has been undertaken with meaningful involvement of local government service providers. The full PC Draft Report can be accessed here. At the time qldwater and LGAQ stepped up their existing industry programs investigating the future of the sector, and partnered with the Queensland Government to create the Queensland Water Regional Alliances Program.

Since the 2011 reviews there have been repeated calls for further reform of the water sector including a reassessment of the benefits of privatisation and private investment (e.g. the special edition of Austrailian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering 2015 publication, a series of articles in the AWA Water magazine in 2015 by McKeown, Schott, Cade, and Hillis and Fonti

Infrastructure Australia in particular has continued the call for restructure of local governments and water assets. For example, the  National Infrastructure Plan 2013, notes “most of Australia’s water assets are publicly owned including $50 billion to $60 billion of water infrastructure suitable to be transferred to the private sector”. Action 21 in the document was to "consider all options to strengthen regional infrastructure planning and delivery including regional delivery models, formal infrastructure agreements between bodies, and consolidation of local governments, especially in New South Wales and Queensland".

Similarly, in the Australian Infrastructure Plan 2016 recommendation 4.7 was that "State and territory governments should undertake an independent audit of the performance, financial viability and capacity constraints of local councils to identify areas of highest risk. In New South Wales and Queensland, these audits should inform pathways to more sustainable models." Recommendation 6.12 was that "Governments should define a pathway to transfer state-owned metropolitan water utility businesses to private ownership to deliver more cost-effective, customer-responsive services."

Related Documents

CCE Workshop Report Final CCE Workshop Report Final - Release Date 21-Nov-2017: - Final report on the Council Owned Water Services - Keeping Community Control workshop held in August 2017. The workshop considered current and alternative models for urban water and sewerage services (WSS) in Queensland in light of recommendations in various national reviews for reform of the local government water sector. (612KB)

eFlash #238 - 27 August 2014 eFlash #238 - 27 August 2014 - Release Date 27-Aug-2014: - 1. Expert panel to help deliver on the WaterQ vision for Queensland . | 2. Water Supply Services Legislation Act 2014 – Clarification of Changes. | 3 Trility joins qldwater as Affiliate Member . | 4. QUICK LINKS – ASSOCIATED ORGANISATIONS EVENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS (20KB)

Joint Media Statement - industry SEQ Code Joint Media Statement - industry SEQ Code - Release Date 08-Jul-2013: - The five South East Queensland (SEQ) water service providers —Gold Coast City Council, Logan City Council, Queensland Urban Utilities, Redland Water and Unitywater — worked together to develop the new SEQ Water Supply and Sewerage Design and Construction Code (SEQ Code) which became effective on 1 July 2013. (91KB)

qldwater Response to 30 Year Water Plan qldwater Response to 30 Year Water Plan - Release Date 09-Apr-2013: - The Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater) response to the 30 Year Water Plan has been sent to the Department of Energy and Water Supply. This response has been compiled by the Queensland Water Directorate (qldwater), representing the urban water sector. The information in this response was collated from discussion and meetings with industry members from across the State, focussed strategic discussions with representative industry groups and surveys conducted by qldwater based on the themes of (359KB)

Administrative Arrangements Order Administrative Arrangements Order - Release Date 04-Apr-2012: - Post Election Announcements Affecting Water and Sewerage. The State Government has this week released Administrative Arrangements Order (No. 3) 2012 to identify which new departments will administer existing legislation. Of particular interest to Water and Sewerage Health (Minister Lawrence Springborg) –Water Fluoridation Act 2008 Environment and Heritage Protection (Minister Andrew Powell) – Environmental Protection Act 1994 Housing and Public Works (Minister Bruce Flegg) – Plumbing and (301KB)

e Flash #120 - 1 June 2011 e Flash #120 - 1 June 2011 - Release Date 01-Jun-2011: - 1. qldwater Response to Productivity Commission Draft Report. | 2. Skills Queensland Strategic Investment Fund Launched. | (34KB)

qldwater Response to PC Inquiry Draft Report qldwater Response to PC Inquiry Draft Report - Release Date 23-May-2011: - (138KB)

e Flash # 114 - 8 April 2011 e Flash # 114 - 8 April 2011 - Release Date 08-Apr-2011: - 1. Unrest in Qld Urban Water Industry. | 2. Update on Premier's Announcement of Further Restructure of SEQ Industry. | 3. National Water Commission Review of Urban Water Industry. | (41KB)

e Flash # 113 - 8 April 2011 e Flash # 113 - 8 April 2011 - Release Date 08-Apr-2011: - 1. Premier Announces SEQ Water Utilities Free to Return to Local Government Management. | (28KB)

e Flash #100 - 9 December 2010 e Flash #100 - 9 December 2010 - Release Date 09-Dec-2010: - 1. Infrastructure Charges. | 2. Productivity Commission Review of Urban Water Industry. | (34KB)

e Flash #93 - 4 October 2010 e Flash #93 - 4 October 2010 - Release Date 04-Oct-2010: - 1. Release of Drinking Water Quality Management Plan Guidelines for Large Water Service Providers. | 2. SWIM Water Data Due for ALL Queensland Service Providers by 8 October. |. 3. Productivity Commission Inquiry into Australia's Urban Water Sector. | (34KB)

Due Diligence Checklist Due Diligence Checklist - Release Date 18-Dec-2009: - Due diligence checklist for local government water utilities developed by the Future of the Queensland Water Industry Taskforce. | Free member download. | (1291KB)

Review of National Water Arrangements Review of National Water Arrangements - Release Date 01-Dec-2008: - Brief overview of water institutional arrangements across Australia undertaken by qldwater on behalf of the Future of the Water Industry Taskforce. | Free member download. | (1034KB)

10 Principles from Future of Water Industry Taskforce 10 Principles from Future of Water Industry Taskforce - Release Date 30-Sep-2008: - The Future of the Water Industry (outside SEQ) Taskforce met in Mackay in August 2008 and created general principles that should guide any future changes to the Local Government water industry. These principles were later endorsed by the LGAQ Executive Committee and presented to the Regulator. | Free member download. | (41KB)

Mackay Future of the Industry Meeting Mackay Future of the Industry Meeting - Release Date 01-Sep-2008: - The Future of the Water Industry Outside SEQ Taskforce met in Mackay in August 2008 to discuss institutional models for the industry and general principles on future arrangements for the local government Water Industry. | Free member download. | (825KB)

Briefing on 2007 WOLA Bill Briefing on 2007 WOLA Bill - Release Date 17-Oct-2007: - Briefing from the State on Water and Other Legislation Ammendment Bill 2007. Received on 12/1007 and approved 16/10/07 with initial measures taking place on Jan 2008 and other phasing in over several years. (233KB)

Briefing on Water and Other Legislation Amendment Bill Briefing on Water and Other Legislation Amendment Bill - Release Date 17-Oct-2007: - Information from the State Government on the Bill on 12/10/2007 close to the time of its submission. The Bill was approved on 16/10/2007 to take effect in January 2008. (228KB)

qldwater submission to Local Government Reform Commission qldwater submission to Local Government Reform Commission - Release Date 06-Aug-2007: - The Queensland Water Directorate's response to the Commission was submitted by the deadline of 18 May 2007. Read our submission here. (69KB)

Industry Leader's comments on reforms - Patrick Murphy Industry Leader's comments on reforms - Patrick Murphy - Release Date 12-Jul-2007: - qldwater approached industry leaders for their views on institutional changes in SEQ and the LG reform process. This is the response from Patrick Murphy, Boonah Shire Council, which is one of the 17 Councils impacted by the changes to SEQ institutional arrangements. Patrick is the Vice President and Treasurer of the Institute of Public Works Engineers Queensland and this year was voted Engineer of the Year by his peers. | Free member download. | (74KB)

Preliminary Advice on Impact of Amalgamations on Other Obligations Preliminary Advice on Impact of Amalgamations on Other Obligations - Release Date 22-Jun-2007: - Preliminary information colated by qldwater on the impacts of Local Government Reforms and SEQ insitutional changes on mandatory water savings targets and domestic bore restrictions. | Free member download. | (144KB)

Preliminary Advice on Impact of Reforms on Subsidies Preliminary Advice on Impact of Reforms on Subsidies - Release Date 22-Jun-2007: - Business Water-use Efficiency Program. | Water and Sewerage Program. | Smaller Communities Assistance Program. | Total Management Plans. | STP upgrade program. | Free member download. | (136KB)

Preliminary Advice on Impacts of Amalgamations on Ch 3 Requirements Preliminary Advice on Impacts of Amalgamations on Ch 3 Requirements - Release Date 22-Jun-2007: - Preliminary information collated by qldwater on the impacts of Local Government Reforms and SEQ insitutional changes on... Strategic Asset Managment Plans and Audits. | Drought Management Plans. | System Leakage Management Plans. | Water Efficiency Managment Plans. | Free member download. | (158KB)

Industry Leader's comments on reforms - Andrew Ryan Industry Leader's comments on reforms - Andrew Ryan - Release Date 31-May-2007: - The Queensland Water Directorate approached a number of industry leaders for their comments and views on the current upheaval of the Queensland Water Industry as a result of changes in SEQ and the LG reform process. This is the response from Andrew Ryan, Director of City Assets, Caloundra City Council and member of the IPWEAQ Board. (38KB)

Industry Leader's comments on reforms - David Wiskar Industry Leader's comments on reforms - David Wiskar - Release Date 31-May-2007: - The Queensland Water Directorate approached a number of industry leaders for their comments and views on the current upheaval of the Queensland Water Industry as a result of changes in SEQ and the LG reform process. This is the response from David Wiskar - Executive Manager, Wide Bay Water and Chair of the Technical Reference Group of the Queensland Water Directorate. | Free member download. | (38KB)

Industry Leader's comments on reforms - Shaun Cox Industry Leader's comments on reforms - Shaun Cox - Release Date 31-May-2007: - qldwater approached industry leaders for their views on institutional changes in SEQ and the LG reform process. This is the response from Shaun Cox, Director Gold Coast Water, member of the SEQ Water Technical Committee and Chair of the Board of the Water Services Association of Australia. | Free member download. | (31KB)

qldwater Response to Local Government Reform Commission qldwater Response to Local Government Reform Commission - Release Date 29-May-2007: - qldwater's response to the Commission was brief and focussed on three broad issues, with the aim of complementing the submissions of our members. Read our submission here. (138KB)

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