In a recent press release, SA Water reports that it is "achieving positive outcomes for its customers, with some room to improve, according to an independent annual report [released on 8 March 2018] on Australia’s water utilities."
The press release continues:
"The Bureau of Meteorology’s National Performance Report (NPR) 2016-17: urban water utilities analyses the performance of 85 organisations across the country, including SA Water, which has a customer base of more than 1.6 million people.
The report shows SA Water performed favourably amongst its peers - the larger utilities with 100,000 or more customers - in areas such as customer service, pricing and rate of water main breaks and leaks: [see the chart below]
SA Water’s Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said the report reinforces the organisation’s focus on improving customer experience.
"We achieved some great results last year, in areas we know are important to our customers, with a material reduction in typical water bills, and less inconvenience from water main breaks," Roch said.
"Our team understands there’s still more to be done."
The report also highlights areas for continuous improvement such as unplanned interruptions, sewer breaks and chokes, and system leakage.
"To limit the most common cause of sewer main faults – tree root intrusion – we’re working more collaboratively with councils on tree selection and placement to reduce pipe impact," Roch said.
"We’re also investigating the use of alternative sewer main construction materials which are less prone to tree root damage."
The increased duration of water service interruptions is the result of changed safety procedures for work on cast iron mains, previously used extensively in South Australia, requiring the water supply to be shut down and area excavated before the pipe is repaired.
"Our crews will always work as quickly as possible to complete repairs and get water back on, however the safety of our crews on-site and community members nearby comes first and is not negotiable," Roch said.
The report also shows only around a third of major-sized water utilities reported an increase in the volume of water supplied to residential customers. At 17 per cent, SA Water recorded the largest decrease.
"Much of South Australia experienced above average spring and summer rainfall in 2016-17, which led to a reduction in demand for both mains and recycled water," Roch said.
"On the plus side, this also provided ample supply for our metropolitan reservoirs, reducing the need to draw from the River Murray. Last year, nearly 60 per cent of drinking water supplied to our customers state-wide came from surface water (reservoirs), compared to around eight per cent in 2015-16.
"We protect affordability by using lower costs sources of water first and regularly review available resources to ensure we have an understanding of how much water levels in the reservoirs are increasing from natural inflows.
"How we supply safe, clean drinking water and remove, treat and recycle wastewater is largely dictated by the weather. To ensure we can continue to support our customers with these services, we have measures in place like the Adelaide Desalination Plant which is climate-independent and there as our drought insurance policy."
SA Water data submitted for the report is coordinated and checked by the Essential Services Commission of South Australia."
For a full copy of the report, visit http://www.bom.gov.au/water/npr/.