What our water performance report found in 2017-18
13 December 2018
On 10 December 2018, we released our annual water performance report for 2017–18, which showed that Victoria’s 2.7 million households and small businesses used a little more water last financial year due to lower rainfall.
Victoria's 16 urban water businesses operate across a diverse range of geographic, environmental and social conditions. In our latest water performance report, we examine the 2017-18 performance of the Victorian urban water sector during the financial year 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, both as a whole and as individual businesses. We compare the businesses with each other, and against their own previous performance. This report also marks the conclusion of the five year regulatory pricing period from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2018.
What we found in 2017-18
In May and June 2018, we released new pricing decisions for all urban water businesses, establishing the prices to apply from 1 July 2018. For most businesses, the new prices are about the same or lower than those that applied in 2017-18 (not including the impacts of inflation).
The typical bills described in this report predate the new prices, which will be reflected in our performance reporting for 2018-19.
In 2017-18, a typical Victorian residential water customer:
Received high quality drinking water. Almost all Victorian customers received water that was fully compliant with safe drinking water regulations.
Used slightly more water. Average household use was up 1.9 per cent from 2016-17 due mainly to lower rainfall this year, particularly across the north of the state. There was also a corresponding increased demand for recycled water.
Received slightly higher bills. A typical bill for owner occupiers increased by 2 per cent, reflecting inflation and the higher average water usage (with underlying prices generally remaining steady in real terms for most businesses).
Received consistent service levels. Water network reliability was similar to prior years. Sewer reliability improved, with a lower blockage and spill rate, which is typical in a lower rainfall year.
Received support if experiencing payment difficulties. Customers continued to access a range of support programs offered by the water businesses and the government.
Overall, we consider Victoria‘s 2.7 million customers continue to receive good service from their water businesses, as they have across the last five years, even though there is considerable variation in performance across the various indicators owing to the diverse operational conditions across the state.
The better performers across a number of key areas this year were Goulburn Valley Water, East Gippsland Water and Western Water.
We challenged businesses to engage with their customers to understand what they value most, and prepare price submissions which take these views into account.
The PREMO framework provides incentives for water businesses to provide greater value to customers, and holds them accountable for delivering on their commitments.
Businesses have established clear outcomes and performance targets, and will self-report their achievements and the value they have actually delivered to their customers.
Our performance reporting will change from 2018-19 to reflect this new approach, as businesses take greater responsibility for reporting and explaining their own performance to customers. How well they do this will help us determine what role we play in reporting on this sector in the future.
In mid 2018, we hosted a session where the water businesses who received a 'leading' rating under our new price review framework (PREMO) reflected on how they approached the 2018 water price review and what they learnt.