Update from Elaine Attwood AM CSA Executive Member.

SA Water's CEO, Mr Roch Cheroux said since his first meeting with the RCAG back in June he has been very busy meeting with people and learning a lot. The lack of electricity during the blackout was an issue for them. A great deal of water has fallen - in 3 days they received almost 3 times the amount water received in last 20 months! This creates issues in quality of water and impact on infrastructure. In addition SAW has done a lot of work on how to make the Corporation more efficient and ensure customer satisfaction. He has had discussions with the Board and different stakeholders. His message is that, ‘The only reason why SA Water is here, is because of its customers.’ Progress has been made with regard to customer satisfaction but he is wanting to now push to next level. Mr. Cheroux said If SA Water is making a decision concerning assets, will be driven by customer satisfaction rather than science, technology or finance. SA Water has one objective - that of customer satisfaction.

On the question of question of how the outage had affected SAW, Mr. Cheroux said that SAW is one of the biggest purchasers of electricity in this state. The outage had a great impact - all their equipment works with electricity, so having none made them very busy. SAW had contingency plans but the level of activity was hectic. Only a small number of customers (12-15) were without water. Five were impacted by sewer overflow. SAW provided assistance in dealing with insurance issues and cleanup for these people. SAW staff actually walked the customers out of the are affected by the sewerage overflow.

Another impact was that of finance. SAW had to hire generators for water pumping stations and waste water pumping. There was also some damage to assets. Some pipes shifted with flooding and they are dealing with that. SAW will save some money by not having to pump water into the reservoirs this summer. There will also be more costs in having to treat the water as they are getting very different quality water - both in the river and Mt. Lofty ranges.

Co-incidentally SAW’s Facebook page was launched that week and some 200,000 people saw it. Pt. Lincoln was the most critical at the time and Facebook messages reached 62,000 people asking them to conserve water. SAW had extra water in case it was needed there. The success of this initiative now has other emergency agencies seeking their input as to their social media success.

SAW has now identified social media as a good channel to provide: two way conversations, more choice in how people interact with SAW, improving real time communicationsand  providing accurate and timely information. SAW has also revised its social media policy within the organisation. It has relaxed conditions around employee use of social media to encourage employees to share SAW content and made clearer guidelines on acceptable social media use.

SAW are engaging in research about faults, burst water mains and service interruptions etc. This will involve a survey with customers in first instance. In the engagement of 2014, customers indicated they were happy with SAW service but this is an opportunity to see if this has changed. They intend to ask customers what SAW should consider the most when replacing burst water mains i.e what do they want prioritised. SAW want both residential and business consumer input. A joint discussion will be facilitated at our next meeting.

If any member has any feedback they would like to pass on to SAW on the above, please let CSA know.

AuthorRay Dennis