Water Journal : Water Journal June 2014
JUNE 2014 WATER 33 Ozwater Report home market, so the businesses invested in developing countries, particularly South America. In 2001, with the Argentinian devaluation and currency conversion policy, the investments became worthless and, with massive unemployment, consumers could not pay for water anyway. Around the same time, the English regulator (OFWAT) had tightened controls and regulations on parent companies based there. The net result has been a cessation of global privatisation. Glasson then turned from history to pose the question most relevant to Australia's situation today as governments look to sell existing assets to fund new infrastructure. He outlined a notional, partial privatisation concept involving an investor and a utility jointly holding water assets in a specially created holding company. This entity then conducts business by awarding service contracts. Regulation plays an important role, as does the massive appetite of pension funds for modest but reliable returns on long-term investments. Opening keynote on the last day, Karlene Maywald, Chair of the National Water Commission, provided a comprehensive summary of the achievements of the Commission in delivering the goals and priorities as de ned by the National Water Initiative. The Commission provides independent and public advice to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the Australian Government by assessing, auditing and monitoring water reform progress. Additional roles relate to the implementation of plans for the Murray-Darling Basin; collection and consolidation of data on Australia's water resources with a focus on groundwater; re nements to water trading practice; and promoting urban water reform and the sustainable use of water. Victor Javier Bourguett, Director General of the Mexican Institute of Water Technology, provided an insight to water management in Mexico, a country of contrasts with arid but populous northern and central regions, and a south that faces recurring oods and heavy rain. Providing a reliable and secure water supply and sanitation service to the community is complicated by the wide divergence in socio-economic status of the community. Bourguett summarised his country's current 2013--2018 Water Strategy and concluded with a video of Mexico's water resources and challenges, water assets and technologies being used to deliver on the strategy. Helmut Kroiss, incoming President of IWA, spoke to the closing session on Thursday 1 May. His main thrust was the upcoming IWA World Water Congress, to be held in Lisbon 21--26 September this year, then in Brisbane in September 2016. CONFERENCE SESSIONS The multitude of themes in the sessions offered a broad spectrum to delegates, covering what was probably the widest range yet. At least one technically orientated delegate commented, though, that basic water and wastewater material was quite thin on the ground. In spite of a smaller technical component than usual, there was a lot of energy around emerging themes. In particular, mature discussion was focused on how best to match players to roles. The buzzword was capital recycling, which involves selling assets to investors, then investing the proceeds in new infrastructure. A useful idea was that pension funds have an appetite for secure, long-term investments with modest returns. Water and sewerage networks t the bill well on those criteria, but would need to be operated and maintained by suitably skilled contractors. The regulatory climate has to be conducive to a good result, with risks being allocated where they can best be managed. This was a far cry from the adversarial climate that used to exist between those who favoured the public sector and those who barracked for private players. Kerry Schott made the point that networks are natural monopolies, while treatment plants are not. In her view, retail functions belonged more comfortably with the network -- privately owned but centrally controlled for each system.
Water Journal May 2014
Water Journal August 2014