On behalf of the Board of SA Water, I am pleased to present the Corporation’s Annual Report for the financial year ending 30 June 2019.
The report is submitted for your information and presentation to Parliament, in accordance with requirements of the Public Corporations Act 1993 and the Public Sector Act 2009.
This report is verified as accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.
Andrew Fletcher AO
Chair of the Board
Water services have great capacity to build a resilient community through health and wellbeing, cooling green spaces and enabling economic growth, all the while supporting daily life. All factors which contribute to increasing liveability in South Australia.
The Corporation has a long history of innovation and the Board continues to look beyond a 20-year horizon to actively position and prepare SA Water as a utility of the future.
As a leader in many fields, it is important SA Water draws on global trends and developments to understand how customers’ needs are changing. The Corporation’s vision and strategy remain strong and focused on investing to create the future services and life customers will expect. Lessons learnt and best practice are also being gathered from different sectors, beyond the water industry. All the while, the Corporation continues to deliver for customers’ evolving water services needs while remaining focused on getting the basics right in the delivery of these services.
In 2018-19, SA Water joined the United Nations’ Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative which supports progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. These goals seek to make positive change for people, planet and prosperity by 2030.
Sustainability – of services, community and environment – is a global issue which the Corporation is working to address at a local level. With significant investment now underway in renewable energy generation and storage, there is a focus on improving sustainability while contributing to low and stable pricing, and ever reliable services.
By embracing innovation and new ideas, SA Water is supporting the state’s economy. One example this year is the collaboration on the first commercial pilot of a molten silicon energy storage system built at the Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant by South Australian company 1414 Degrees. Providing an opportunity to trial a new application of this technology in the capture and use of biogas, SA Water is demonstrating how partnerships and innovation are helping to foster homegrown solutions for a more sustainable future.
With a view to meeting customers’ evolving expectations, work is underway to implement a new model for service delivery in metropolitan Adelaide. Comprising two parts – production and treatment, and field services – this refreshed approach will combine the best of local knowledge and experience with national and international expertise. Partnerships with industry expertise will enable continuous improvement in customer service delivery.
SA Water’s workforce is its biggest asset and the safety of our people, customers and the wider community remains an unwavering focus for the Board. It is pleasing to see such a strong safety culture in the Corporation. In particular, results from the State Government’s I Work for SA survey show that 92 per cent of the workforce agree SA Water is committed to workplace safety.
With a strong connection to their local communities across the state, the contributions from the skilled, dedicated and adaptive workforce has ensured the Corporation continues to deliver for more than 1.7 million South Australians every day.
Andrew Fletcher AO
Chair of the Board
With a focus on creating a better life in South Australia, this year we have made some significant achievements towards our vision.
Investing in renewable energy generation and storage, as we work towards an ambitious goal of zero net electricity costs from 2020-21, is an important contributor to a sustainable future for our business and our state. Neutralising large operating costs like electricity – which reached $83 million in 2018-19 – contributes to low and stable prices over time for our customers.
Digital transactions continue to increase in popularity among our customers and in response we are developing and growing our digital offering. This includes our website, online account management options and use of social media. Visits across our websites were up 15 per cent from 2017-18, and self-service transactions through mySAWater grew nearly 90 per cent. In May 2019 we achieved a new record with more than 16,000 online transactions in just one month.
As a member of the cross-government taskforce responsible for opening reservoir reserves for public access, we worked closely with the community and a range of government agencies to open Myponga Reservoir Reserve to the public in April 2019. With a focus on supporting the implementation of this government initiative, we successfully balanced public access with ensuring drinking water quality and security, attracting more than 6,000 visitors to Myponga Reservoir Reserve in its first three months of being open.
Our shift to a harm based approach to safety has supported and influenced the engagement of our people and there has been a noticeable improvement in our proactive safety reporting of potential harm. This shift is enabling conversations through sharing opportunities to learn within our business, as well as with our partners and wider supply chain.
With a high participation rate of 74 per cent in the South Australian Government’s I Work for SA survey, our people indicated strong levels of engagement. Across all major indicators, our people tracked above the public sector average, including engagement levels, leadership, values and wellbeing. In particular there was a high commitment to workplace safety, and a willingness to go above and beyond and suggest improvement ideas.
The survey also identified opportunities for improvement such as further simplification of processes. Results are informing our ongoing work to foster a constructive and collaborative culture right across our business.
This year’s long, dry summer and autumn saw an increase in water sales and a corresponding increase in energy used to deliver this extra water to our customers. With sound management, we responded to customer demand while also meeting our budgeted return to government.
In November 2018 we recognised our people who went above and beyond delivering great outcomes for our customers at our inaugural Innovation and Excellence Awards. Competition was strong across the seven award categories. Among the winners we celebrated the implementation of trenchless pipe repair techniques, improved sludge lagoon monitoring, community engagement outcomes from the Hallett Cove Wastewater Pump Station upgrade, and the retrieval of a vehicle from the Blue Lake/War War in Mount Gambier.
Receiving a number of local, national and global awards, we are leading the way in the water industry, particularly for our adoption and use of new technologies for customer, commuter and community benefit.
The Adelaide smart water network trial received global recognition when it was awarded a bronze medal at the International Water Association Awards in September 2018, edging out 160 entries from 45 countries in the Smart Systems and the Digital Water Economy category. The network was also acknowledged at the Institute of Asset Management Awards in London winning the Customer Service Award in November 2018.
Our smart wastewater network in trial underway in Stonyfell and Gawler was named the Best Industrial Internet of Things Project at the 2019 Internet of Things Awards.
Recognition was also received for our water quality testing laboratories with awards for the use of advanced DNA testing, combating greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater systems, and for Cryptosporidium research.
Change is all around us and it will continue as we prepare for the next regulatory period. Our Plan 2020-24 is well advanced, having been prepared together with our customers. Extensive engagement with customers and representative groups has ensured we understand what they value and expect from us, so we can continue to deliver world class water services that support a better life in South Australia.
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are part of a global development blueprint through to 2030. They are universal, transcend borders and apply across the workplace, marketplace and community. They seek to reduce poverty, inequality, unrest and environmental stress around the world. Water, essential to life, plays an integral role to achieving each goal.
We are a signatory to the Australian water industry’s commitment to support the SDGs as a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. We are doing our part to achieve these goals while delivering world class water services for a better life.
This year we joined as a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative which exists to implement universal sustainability principles and support progress towards achieving the SDGs.
As a participant in the Global Compact, we are actively involved in achieving the SDGs. There are 170 Australian businesses and organisations supporting the Global Compact with 30 signed up as participants, and the remainder as signatories. Participants pledge to:
The Global Compact supports businesses and organisations to be guided by the Ten Principles of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to contribute to the 17 SDGs.