Water Week

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NSW State Water an ugly Australian: gets low ratings for water accounts, relationships with Department of Water and Energy, and water customers

Posted by waterweek on 25 September 2007

The NSW State Water Corporation Operational Audit 2005/06, Report to the Minister, Water-Compliance Report showed the State Owned Corporation more than a little short on diplomacy; an audit showed it was not able to maintain the charm in the bureaucrative wars with the NSW departments, and was unwilling or unable to to supply water data to consumer committees. It was also a year late, with its NSW water-accounts data.

NSW State Water the ugly Australian:NSW State Water delivers bulk water to rural and regional NSW and was established as a stand-alone Corporation on 1 July 2004. It was issued with an interim Operating Licence. On 24 June 2005, State Water was issued with a Licence which is scheduled to expire on 30 June 2008, three years from the commencement date.

Concerns about chaotic pattern: NSW price regulator, IPART said it was concerned at a number of aspects of State Water’s performance; it listed issues as:

• the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Natural Resources does not include all the functions where there is a need for a cooperative relationship;

• disagreement between State Water and the Department on which organisation will be responsible for certain functions.

Internal warfare in NSW Departments: The Tribunal noted “the relationship with the new Department of Water and Energy is the key relationship for State Water and this issue has been the subject of debate between the two organisations for some time. Given the importance of this relationship the Tribunal believes that it is crucial that the MOU between the two parties is finalised swiftly”.

No water accounts balance: State Water’s lack of progress in completing the annual water balances in the form specified in the Licence. The purpose of presenting a water balance for each system is to ensure transparency in the availability and distribution of water resources. Explicitly accounting for the source and distribution of water in a water balance will provide greater certainty to consumers about the availability and management of those resources;

Customers unhappy with data-flow: Poor quality of financial information provided to State Water’s Customer Service Committees. This issue was also raised by stakeholders in their submissions to the Tribunal’s recent bulk water price determination. The Tribunal, however, recognises that State Water has recently introduced a new financial information system which is expected to provide greater flexibility in being able to respond to the requests for financial information.

Main recommendations of the auditor:

Memoranda of Understanding;

• State Water to consider revising the MoU with DNR in order to address the arrangements for the making and announcements of available water determinations and controlled flows and to address more broadly the specific roles of each agency;

• State Water to provide additional detail on performance against and compliance with the MoU with DNR including all the various activities that State Water and DNR collaborate on. Customers and community engagement;

• State Water should ensure that their financial systems are able to provide information as requested by the CSCs. Water delivery operations;

• State Water needs to improve performance in coordinating accurate water releases to improve compliance for management of water releases while taking into account physical supply constraints.

• State Water to complete all remaining water balances as soon as possible and continue to investigate improvements for the timely delivery of the information by 1 September.

Reference: NSW State Water Corporation Operational Audit 2005/06, Report to the Minister, Water-Compliance Report, Compliance Report No. 27, May 2007.

Erisk Net, 23/9/2007

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