Water Journal : Water Journal May 2012
6 MAY 2012 water regular features my point of view As a relative newcomer to the water industry, Keith has been intimately involved in a number of rapidly evolving facets of the water industry. In particular, Keith has an interest in water law reform and the practical implementation of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines framework. Keith's particular areas of interest are ongoing improvement of risk management and licence compliance practises. I commenced work as CEO with Busselton Water, a small regional water supplier in Western Australia, in September 2006. Coincidently, Busselton Water had been constituted 100 years previously, in 1906, and this placed me on the brink of a new era in Busselton Water's human resources, infrastructure and demand growth. The town of Busselton is a sea-change destination some 230 kilometres south of Perth in Western Australia. The town experiences a significant increase in its population each year, from some 25,000 to 60,000, as tourists come for the peak season in summer to enjoy the delights of the area, which include a tranquil bay, boating, fishing, surfing, fine dining and winery tours. The water supply comes from deep aquifers, and is sustainable. Although Busselton Water is unique in Western Australia, being one of only two non-Water Corporation utilities, there is a universality of issues facing smaller water suppliers around other regional areas of Australia, and I would like to share my thoughts on these challenges and how Busselton Water is facing them. Investing for the Future My greatest aspiration since joining Busselton Water has been to build a robust entity to take Busselton Water into the future and ensure its autonomy and financial wellbeing. Busselton Water is an integral part of the community it serves and it is important in my view that it be strong enough to provide that role going forward. My first challenge was to update the administrative processes. To this end there has been considerable investment in the update of many internal systems, including a replacement asset management system, a revised risk management system including a new risk register, a new records management approach, as well as a change in customer care management and IT communications. In addition, I have been keen to see that longer-serving employees provide their wealth of knowledge and understandings of processes and the like in a documented form. This way the information can be placed in a knowledge management system for wide-scale access and "future proofing". In addition, I have a strong and dedicated approach to obtaining and retaining highly qualified individuals to work at Busselton Water. The Chlorination Controversy The second challenge was the issue of chlorination, predominantly an exercise in community consultation. Busselton Water was unique up until March 2012, as one of a handful of water service providers in Australia whose drinking water supply was not chlorinated. As 11,000 connections serve a population of 25,000 people, it was to be expected that the move Tackling a Sea Change Keith White, Chief Executive Officer -- Busselton Water, WA The decision to chlorinate the water supply at Busselton created fierce public debate.
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