Annual report

Annual report

2020-21 Annual Report

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 2021.

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

A message from the Chair

This year has once again required agility, innovative thinking and courage as the Corporation worked through the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic while providing essential water services for our community.

In response to this time of extraordinary change, the Board worked with the business to set a new strategy and vision: to deliver trusted water services for a sustainable and healthy South Australia.

Our Strategy 2020-25 provides clear direction and charts a course for the coming five years while also maintaining a view towards 2050, in recognition that decisions can have a long-term impact on the wellbeing of customers and the community, and the future sustainability of our state.

Critical to our success is the safety and wellbeing of our people, customers and the community. It was pleasing to see a significant 53 per cent reduction in the all-injury frequency rate, down to 9.05. Strong connections with our delivery partners are being created to build a consistent and shared safety culture.

In addition to physical safety, there is increased attention and resources to support our people’s psychological safety.

As a significant contributor to the economy, the Corporation began delivering a new four-year capital works program which will see us invest more than $2.2 billion through to June 2024. This year, projects across the state – from Moonta to Naracoorte and Kingscote – were fast- tracked to support the local construction industry through the pandemic. With a focus on ensuring water security into the future, planning is underway for seawater desalination plants for Kangaroo Island and the Eyre Peninsula. This sustained investment in water and wastewater infrastructure for the future is helping build a strong South Australia.

Through the South Australian Government Climate Change Action Plan 2021-2025, the Corporation is actively leading the delivery of a range of activities, which are aligned to Our Strategy 2020-25.

The installation of solar panels to generate renewable energy was completed with more than 217,000 panels added to the 150,000 installed last year. This commitment to sustainability is also beginning to bring financial savings to the Corporation.

A focus on diversity and inclusion has this year seen the release of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment and Retention Plan, and Disability Access and Inclusion Plan. The clear and tangible actions outlined in these plans will contribute to building a workforce that represents the communities we serve.

As the alliance with Allwater drew to a close after 10 years, contracts were signed in late 2020 with our new metropolitan service providers. Lendlease will provide field services, and SUEZ Water will provide production and treatment. The new model of service delivery will achieve significant positive change that directly benefits our customers, incorporating service improvements that are aligned with customers’ expectations.

Our support for the South Australian Government’s COVID-19 pandemic response continued. Through the public sector mobilisation, many of our people were involved in contact tracing, SA Police administration support, State Emergency Information Contact Call Centre support and hospital concierge duties.

The program to progressively open reservoir reserves for public access delivered multiple milestones for this government priority initiative. Hope Valley Reservoir Reserve opened in late 2020 and we are working closely with the cross-government taskforce and the community at Happy Valley as we prepare for public access at the southern metropolitan reservoir reserve from late 2021.

Right across South Australia, our people showed exceptional dedication and resilience to deliver for our customers and the community. On behalf of the Board I thank all our people for their commitment and hard work.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of my fellow Board members including our Chief Executive, David Ryan, and his revitalised Senior Leadership Team for their leadership, commitment and dedication to the Corporation.

Andrew Fletcher AO
Chair of the Board

A message from the Chief Executive

As our business continued to deliver through times of rapid change, I’m proud of our people who have maintained their focus on safely ensuring water services for our customers and the community.

In October 2020 we launched Our Strategy 2020-25. The direction we have set is ambitious and success will only be possible with continued focus on understanding our customers’ and stakeholders’ priorities and delivering the core water services they need and value.

Key to achieving our strategy is improving the way we work. Our people are actively sharing, developing and implementing ideas that improve our business, with our online Ideas Tank now capturing ideas and guiding them through evaluation.

Exciting progress was seen this year on a significant initiative conceived by our people, with the final solar panels installed as part of our industry-leading zero cost energy future program. Over the year we have progressively energised panels at 25 sites and connected them to the grid, generating renewable energy to power our operations.

Through our smart maintenance program, our people are finding new ways to use technology to identify and forecast when assets need to be repaired or replaced. This expands our use of technology to monitor and proactively manage our network and infrastructure.

The growth of digital services continues to improve outcomes for our customers and this year brought eBilling to our commercial customers and managing agents, among others. There are now close to 236,000 properties registered for eBills up by more than 110,000 in 2020-21.

Our reservoir reserves notched up more than 226,000 visitors since April 2019, showing strong community involvement and interest in enjoying, exploring and preserving these special places across the state. Hope Valley Reservoir Reserve was opened for land-based activities

in December 2020 and at Myponga, on-water access began in March 2021. Through the Reservoirs Partnership Program we are supporting grassroots activities and initiatives that use the reservoir reserves.

Supporting Aboriginal-owned businesses, sharing Indigenous knowledge and building a culturally safe workplace are key actions in our Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan.

This year we opened a community and cultural space at the new Murray Bridge Wastewater Pump Station that shares the culture of the Ngarrindjeri people and features an interpretive walking trail depicting the important water sites on Ngarrindjeri Country.

As host of the national water conference Ozwater’21, we welcomed 2,500 delegates from across Australia to Adelaide in May 2021 to share their expertise and technical knowledge with the water industry. Over three days, Ozwater’21 explored the theme ‘reimagining our water future’ through a diverse program of keynote speakers, technical presentations, workshops, trade exhibitions and panel discussions. Our people were involved as presenters and facilitators as well as contributing as panellists and in the exhibition hall.

It was great to be part of the first in-person event hosted by our Pride Together network. The national Pride in Water events at Ozwater’21 demonstrated the wider water industry’s support for the LGBTIQ+ community and enabled people to understand the value and contribution that diverse experiences and views bring to our everyday operations.

By supporting and developing women in our business, we now have nearly 42 per cent of our leadership positions held by women, including five of our seven executive roles.

Through the first half of 2021, we worked closely with Lendlease, SUEZ and Allwater to transition ahead of the contract changeover in July 2021 for metropolitan field, and production and treatment services. The Adelaide Services Alliance finished strongly having brought innovative thinking and ideas to our state over the past decade. The lessons learnt from this alliance have informed our new direction and I am looking forward to working with our new partners.

Our business remains strong, delivering a return above budget following a warm and dry year which saw an increase in water sales, together with a reduction in electricity expenses and interest costs.

Our commitment as a participant in the United Nations Global Compact is reaffirmed as we continue to work towards delivering services and achieving positive outcomes for our community and the planet. As part of this commitment, we are a signatory to the Australian water industry’s commitment to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, our workforce remained adaptable and flexible, with business continuity plans in place to manage changing working environments, including a statewide circuit breaker lockdown in November 2020. Our COVID-19 wastewater testing was recognised by the Australian Water Association, winning the South Australian award for Excellence in Research and Development. In addition, our people undertook a range of activities supporting the lead agency SA Health, and other government agencies involved in keeping our community safe through the pandemic.

On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team, I thank all our people for their dedication to delivering essential water services and improving our business through a time of uncertainty. We met the challenges head-on and never lost sight of our vision to ensure a sustainable and healthy community.

David Ryan
Chief Executive

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

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, and a participant of the United Nations Global Compact. The compact is 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 with participants pledging to:

  • operate responsibly, in alignment with universal sustainability principles
  • take actions that support the society around them
  • commit to the effort from the organisation’s highest level
  • report annually on their ongoing efforts
  • engage locally where they have a presence.

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.