Our 2021–2022 Annual Report outlines how we are continuing to implement our Water for Victoria obligations, our 2018–2023 price submission customer commitments, and our aligned Strategy 2030 vision of enabling regional prosperity by being entrepreneurial and high performing, building strategic partnerships and achieving zero waste and emissions.
The report also details how, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather and the impact of international events on supply chains, we continued to deliver strong and financially sustainable results for our customers.
In the 2021–2022 financial year, we invested $53.2 million to replace and upgrade water and sewerage infrastructure as well as building new water infrastructure in places like Armstrong Creek to support future growth.
We also maintained our commitment to:
- Excellent experiences for our customers
- Planning for the future water needs of our region
- Protecting the environment
- Community partnerships which improve the region’s liveability
- A diverse and highly skilled workforce who care about the region they work in
- Disciplined financial management.
Our organisational values – caring, safe, inclusive, accountable and courageous - are demonstrated in the many examples throughout the report.
Our deep engagement with our customers and community is helping us harness opportunities that keep customer prices low, grow the local economy and respond to critical issues such as climate change, growth and community expectations about water use, protecting the environment and helping customers experiencing hardship.
Our five customer outcomes
This annual report covers year four of our 2018–2023 price period. It shows how we continue to deliver upon the five key service outcomes our customers, consulted through extensive community engagement, told us they most valued and expected from us. As part of this price submission, we committed to continually involve our customers and community in our decision-making, hold ourselves to account and honour what we said we would deliver, ensuring our actions align with what our customers want us to do.
We also embarked on our next Price Submission engagement to inform our 2023-28 price period plan, which again proposes price reductions for average bills (in real terms).
Supporting our customers
We responded to challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the delivery of safe, secure and affordable water and sewerage services to our region.
With the pandemic again proving to be the largest challenge for Barwon Water and the community in the financial year, we proactively reached out to customers to offer support and continued to explore how to expand our support programs to support as many impacted people as possible.We also worked collaboratively with local agencies and councils to deliver our Customer Support Strategy and help customers experiencing hardship.
We continue to have one of the lowest average residential bills (for water businesses with more than 100,000 customers) with average bills continuing to fall in real terms.
Working with Wadawurrung and Eastern Marr Traditional Owners
We are working closely with Wadawurrung Traditional Owners, other stakeholders and the local community to transform two of our disused sites (Porronggitj Karrong in Breakwater and our Murrk Ngubitj Yarram Yaluk site on the Bellarine) into more than 95 hectares of environmental and public open space.
We continue to work with both Wadawurrung and Eastern Maar Traditional Owners to help guide us in how we source, move and potentially return water to rivers.
We worked with Reconciliation Australia, local Traditional Owners and advisory groups on the development of our second Reconciliation Action Plan.
Water for our Future
Our Urban Water Strategy - Water for our Future, which was co-designed with our community to meet the region’s long-term water security needs, was submitted to the Minister for Water.
More than 5,000 community members participated in the engagement for this program and shared more than 600 ideas shared to help find new sources of water and be more efficient with the water we have.
The 2021–2022 year saw us build further on our goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.
We partnered with Barwon Health and GeelongPort on the Barwon Region Renewable Power Purchase Agreement from the Mount Gellibrand Windfarm, which means we will meet our commitment to using 100 per cent renewable energy ahead of schedule.
We continued to implement and progress our Colac and Regional Renewable Organics Networks (RONs), partnering with councils and businesses to reduce waste, emissions and electricity costs for our customers, whilst also generating jobs and driving economic growth through a circular economy.
We continued to help customers conserve water through the delivery of several water efficiency programs including leak detection and repair, community housing rebates, a partnership with the Birregurra community, and our Business Water Saving Grants program to help business and agricultural customers for projects that improve water efficiency and/or achieve permanent water savings.
Diversity and inclusion
We continued to deepen our values of diversity and inclusion and build on our positive culture towards employees from all cultural backgrounds and those who identify as LGBTIQ+, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and employees with a disability.
Barwon Downs borefield
We have continued to work proactively with community members, independent experts and stakeholders to remediate the confirmed impacts of historic groundwater management at Boundary Creek and Big Swamp, in line with the remediation plan we submitted to regulator Southern Rural Water.
In the 2021–2022 financial year, Barwon Water engaged 70 consultancies where the total fees payable to the consultants were greater than $10,000, with a total expenditure of $5,624,059.