WSAA welcomes the release of Infrastructure Australia’s latest paper Reforming Urban Water – a national pathway for change, and the case it builds for urban water reform.
‘WSAA supports the calls from Infrastructure Australia for a new national urban water reform plan and an independent national urban water reform body’, said Adam Lovell, WSAA’s Executive Director.
‘It is gratifying to see the strong and growing consensus around urban water reform that has developed between governments, water utilities and the private sector. The recommendations from Infrastructure Australia are in line with the reforms WSAA has been championing on behalf of the industry and its customers’, said Mr Lovell.
‘With challenges including growth, climate change and affordability there is a clear burning platform for reform. Urban water reform has been neglected, and we now look forward to the Productivity Commission’s Final National Water Reform Report to kick-start action by all governments in 2018. Incentive payments to State and Territory Governments will be crucial to progress reform’, said Mr Lovell.
The Australian urban water industry is well regarded across the world and has made significant gains in efficiency and customer focus. However, WSAA agrees with Infrastructure Australia that the institutional environment in which the industry operates needs to evolve if it is to meet the challenges of the future.
Prime among these are population growth and the impact of climate change. The challenges highlight the water industry’s role in promoting liveable communities, combatting the heat island effect in our cities and contributing to active lifestyles. Better integration of urban water into city planning, including the stormwater sector, can turn challenges into opportunities.
However, affordability remains a prime concern for water utilities and our customers. The Infrastructure Australia Paper highlights that reform is needed to reduce the pressure on customer bills from the challenges ahead.
Some recommendations in the Paper go beyond the reforms WSAA has envisaged, but are consistent with a long term reform pathway. For example, a system of national regulation may become feasible once other reforms were in place. In relation to private ownership, WSAA considers this is a matter for individual government shareholders to consider on a case by case basis.
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