Water Journal : Water Journal November 2014
NOVEMBER 2014 WATER 37 Feature Article knowledge across the region, including joint training programs coordinated through the Alliance to build skills of staff in each of the communities represented. Apart from training, Councils also need to look at succession and contingency plans for key roles, mentoring of less experienced staff and peer support networks. This process is being developed across the region, ensuring that staff can link with other highly skilled operators when needed. The collaborative approach has also attracted state funding to support skills development. PLANNING AND REPORTING Recent state red-tape reduction initiatives have resulted in removal of several Asset Management Planning requirements under water legislation that were once required to obtain subsidies. The rationale for this change is that council utilities are now capable of managing and planning for water and sewerage assets, but the rapid removal of legislative requirements can actually leave a vacuum of information and advice for such planning in small communities. An opportunity therefore existed to combine existing expertise and plans that have been developed for schemes across the RAPAD region and create a coordinated approach to future Asset Management Planning that is t-for- purpose for each participating council. This approach takes advantage of the regime of asset management required under Local Government legislation and the evolving Queensland water and sewerage KPI-reporting framework that has replaced the raft of statutory plans previously required by the state. This new framework was developed with strong industry input to re ect the reporting that is undertaken internally by Queensland utilities and mirrors the NPR framework for large businesses. The formation of the ORWA prior to formal commencement of this new regulatory framework provided an opportunity to develop (and negotiate) a streamlined approach across the entire region through the new SWIMLocal KPI reporting system. A group rate was negotiated, timelines aligned, and centralised coordination planned for future reporting. DRINKING WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT PLANS (DWQMPS) Introduced in 2009, DWQMPs have become the primary regulatory tool for the State Water Regulator and require signi cant expenditure on monitoring, reporting and potentially future infrastructure upgrades. Each of the participating Councils have developed a DWQMP and are now in the position of assessing joint programs for ongoing monitoring and reporting, improving facilities and meeting regulator requirements such as regular audits. Cost savings are projected from these joint activities and the safety and reliability of water supplies across the region has been reinforced for all communities. PRICE BENCHMARKING While the provision of water services in Western Queensland has numerous hidden costs, it also has some poorly communicated savings (for example, the use of artesian water under pressure). The ORWA is conducting a price benchmarking exercise to review different approaches to pricing within each community, comparing pricing with others in the region, state and nationally. Where possible, differences in levels of service and other relevant parameters such as operating footprint will be identi ed. The aim is to increase transparency about cost recovery pricing. THE FUTURE IS WHAT WE MAKE IT Where larger utilities can rely on economies of scale, greater income and growing population, many small providers -- including those in the outback region -- must provide safe and reliable services with fewer revenue sources and the added costs of remoteness. The QWRAP investigation showed that in this region, some of these costs can be mitigated through joint activities, bringing together the strengths of the diverse RAPAD councils. Boulia Shire Council Area: 61,092km2 Population: 342 Water Source: Great Artesian Basin Communities: Boulia and Urandangie Connections: 137 Length of Mains: 19km Bores: 6 Connections: 109 Length of Mains: 7km Pump Stations: 2 Barcaldine Regional Council Area: 53,677km2 Population: 3,411 Water Source: Great Artesian Basin Communities: Alpha, Aramac, Barcaldine, Jericho and Muttaburra Connections: 1,630 Length of Mains: 89km Bores: 6 GAB, 6 sub GAB Connections: 930 Length of Mains: 33km Pump Stations: 13 Barcoo Shire Council Area: 61,974km2 Population: 360 Water Source: Thomson River, Cooper Creek and sub-artesian Great Artesian Basin Communities: Jundah, Stonehenge, Windorah Connections: 182 Length of Mains: 40km Pump Stations: 4 (river intake) Connections: 0 Length of Mains: 0km Pump Stations: 0 Diamantina Shire Council Area: 94,832 km2 Population: 327 Water Source: Great Artesian Basin Communities: Bedourie and Birdsville Connections: 210 Length of Mains: 21km Bores: 2 Connections: 140 Length of Mains: 11km Pump Stations: 5 Longreach Regional Council Area: 40,638 km2 Population: 4,263 Water Source: Thomson River and GAB Communities: Ilfracombe, Isisford, Longreach and Yaraka Connections: 2,063 Length of Mains: 99km Pump Stations: 12 Connections: 1,831 Length of Mains: 57km Pump Stations: 7 Water Infrastructure Sewerage Infrastructure Figure 2. An overview of the region.
Water Journal September 2014
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