Water Journal : Water Journal November 2014
21 AWA News NOVEMBER 2014 WATER AWA SUBMISSION TO ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS LEGISLATION COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL WATER COMMISSION (ABOLITION) BILL 2014 AWA does not support the abolition of the National Water Commission on the basis that it removes any national leadership of Australia's most valuable economic and environmental resource. AWA has developed a submission to the Environment and Comminications Legislation Committee on National Water Commission (Abolition) Bill 2014. AWA is calling for: 1. Independent national thought leadership for the water sector; 2. Frank and fearless review and transparent reporting of national water management for multiple stakeholders; 3. Re-invigoration of the National Water Initiative (NWI). The water sector is critical to Australia's economy, society and environment. It provides healthy, safe and reliable water and wastewater services that support Australia's high standards of living and underpin its economic success. The sector delivers a range of social and environmental outcomes through its protection of public health, contribution to amenity and recreation and facilitation of development. It also ensures environmental health and biodiversity outcomes in catchments and water systems, including estuaries, coasts and bays. The National Water Initiative includes commitments to provide water for the environment, address over-allocation of rural supplies, register water rights, develop standards for water accounting, expand water trading, improve water supply pricing and manage urban water demands. In doing so the NWI has highlighted the value of water as contributing to economic prosperity in Australia. Key industries, and emerging industries, including food and beverage industry, agribusiness, power and energy, mining, and tourism and leisure all depend on water and effective management to succeed. According to a recent report by the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT), Economic Value of Groundwater in Australia, the economic contribution of groundwater alone to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is between $3.0 and $11.1 billion, with a mid- point of $6.8 billion per annum. Further, they go on to state the 'value of production supported' gures are a lot higher -- $33.8 billion. Further reform of water pricing, trading and infrastructure is needed to promote strong economic growth, sustain population growth and prevent irreparable environmental damage. Long- term sustainability in urban and rural water use will require a new, ambitious reform agenda with states and industry. Unfortunately we are already seeing backsliding from states in relation to implementing the National Water Initiative: • Increasing politicised pricing determinations with rates of return that will not encourage private sector investment; • In many growing regional centres the transition to upper-bound pricing is slow to non-existent; • Poor governance arrangements; for example, some governments have not moved towards upper-bound pricing for utilities, which is a clause stipulated in NWI. Abolishing the National Water Commission, a body providing fearless advice to both Federal and State governments, will allow conditions for this backsliding to continue. AWA recommends that: 1. A revised National Water Initiative be developed for urban water to meet the challenges of a) Climate variability, urban growth and the liveability of our cities and towns; b) Providing the nancial sustainability necessary for utilities to deliver the services that customers need and are willing to pay for; and c) Enabling greater private participation in the industry to drive innovation. 2. The National Water Initiative should bind State Governments to implement a regulatory framework that at least meets the following criteria: a) Has clear objectives -- protecting the long-term interests of consumers; b) Is customer‐centric -- the regulator avoids getting unnecessarily between the utility and its customers; c) Establishes a framework where broader costs and bene ts can be incorporated into investment decisions for the full range of services it provides across the water cycle; d) Has appropriate risk sharing mechanisms --- for example, revenue caps, and pass through mechanisms; e) Has strong incentives for ef ciency and innovation, including rewards as well as sanctions; and f) Contains an appeal mechanism. 3. The National Water Initiative, now and once revised, requires an independent custodian -- the role that has been performed by the National Water Commission -- who will collaborate and maintain a constant vigilance and leadership role. A full version of the submission is available on the AWA website. AUSTRALIAN WATER DELEGATION AT THE WORLD WATER CONGRESS IN LISBON The 2014 IWA World Water Congress was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 21--26 September 2014. With an overarching theme of nding solutions for a more secure water future, the event offered a timely platform to showcase Australia's expertise in water reform, technological innovation and R&D. Bringing together over 5,000 of the world's leading water professionals, the AWA/WaterAUSTRALIA delegation was well versed to support the Congress theme of nding solutions to assure the future. "There is little doubt that the world is feeling the impact of a shifting climate and Australia's 20 years of water reform experience in navigating through new extremes was of great interest to our international counterparts in Lisbon," said AWA CEO Jonathan McKeown.
Water Journal September 2014
Water Journal December 2014