Yarra Valley Water

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Our performance 2021-22

This was the fourth year we worked towards seven service outcomes customers told us they valued most and expected from us. We set ambitious targets with our customers’ expectations in mind, and we’re pleased to report that we met six out of seven outcomes. This is our best performance overall so far for this five-year regulatory period (2018-19 to 2022-23).

Climate change continues to put pressure on our network and the availability of water, but we’ll continue to strive for all targets and take action where we need to do more. Even where we didn’t meet our target, we’ve made considerable progress towards doing so. Our performance for the seven outcomes for each year is presented in the table below.

Outcome Measure   2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22
Safe drinking water Compliance with Safe Drinking Water Regulations Target 100% 100% 100% 100%
    Result

100%

(achieved)

100%

(achieved)

100%

(achieved)

100%

(achieved)
Reliable water and sewerage services Customers who experience three or more unplanned water interruptions or three or more sewerage service interruptions in 12 months (5 year rolling average) Target 0.96% 0.96% 0.96% 0.96%
    Result

0.94%

(achieved)

0.98%

(not achieved)

0.98%

(not achieved)

0.84%

(achieved)
Timely response and restoration Customers whose interrupted service (water and sewerage) has been restored within four hours Target 91.1% 91.1% 91.1% 91.1%
    Result

93.9%

(achieved)

95.1%

(achieved)

96.7%

(achieved)

96.1%

(achieved)
Fair access and assistance to all Customers who, having accessed our support programs, believe we help customers experiencing difficulty paying for their water and sewerage services

Target

89% 89% 89% 89%
    Result

89%

(achieved)

90%

(achieved)

93%

(achieved)

93%

(achieved)
Water availability and conservation Total water usage (litres/ per person/ per day) Target 221 217 213 211
    Result

233

(not achieved)

221

(not achieved)

214

(not achieved)

219

(not achieved)
Modern flexible service Customers who are satisfied with their most recent interaction with us Target 86% 86% 86% 86%
    Result

82%

(not achieved)

87%

(achieved)

87%

(achieved)

88%

(achieved)
Care for and protect the environment Cumulative reduction in carbon emissions compared to a baseline of 34,083 tonnes CO2 e in 2016-17 Target 4% 14.5% 31.5% 46.1%
    Result

4.1%

(achieved)

14.7%

(achieved)

31.7%

(achieved)

46.3%

(achieved)

A summary of the work we did in support of achieving each outcome in 2021-22 is provided below. We’re committed to achieving all targets but if we don’t meet any, we established a world-leading commitment to voluntarily return funds to customers via an annual community rebate. For any unmet target, we’ll voluntarily return a $1.5 million community rebate to customers through prices in the following year. Based on our performance in 2021-22, we’ll reduce prices in 2022-23 by $1.5 million.

We know that dealing with water and sewerage issues at home and work makes life harder for customers, and is inconvenient and unpleasant, so we work towards guaranteed service levels every day as well as the seven performance promises summarised here. If we don’t meet our guaranteed service levels, impacted households will automatically receive a rebate on their next bill - $50, $300 or $1,000 rebates depending on what happened. We measure these seven Price Submission outcomes from 1 April to 31 March.

Outcomes we met

Safe drinking water

Target: 100% compliance with Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2015

Result: 100% compliance – achieved

Providing safe, high quality drinking water is our most important deliverable and we achieved 100% compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2015. These regulations cover the way water quality tests are conducted and reported, and specify targets for the following three water quality parameters:

  • Escherichia coli bacteria (E.coli) - Generally found in the intestines of humans, birds and animals. E.coli is an indicator for potential contamination in the water supply.
  • Trihalomethanes (THM) – A disinfection by-product that forms when natural organic matter in the water reacts with chlorine.
  • Turbidity - Turbidity is a measure of water clarity, describes the amount of light scattered or blocked by suspended particles in a water sample. Clear water has low turbidity and cloudy or murky water has a higher turbidity.

We have a comprehensive water quality monitoring program that ensures the water we supply is high quality, safe and pleasant to drink. An independent laboratory collected and tested over 7,100 water samples this year, and we monitored and tested the water from over 1,200 randomly selected customer taps in 34 different water quality zones – achieving 100% compliance.

The destructive storms and floods of June 2021 also affected our services, leading to sewage spills and other network impacts due to power outages and falling trees. We directly notified customers in parts of The Patch, Kallista and Sherbrooke of a Do Not Drink notice, which was in place across three days following storm damage to a water tank. In challenging circumstances, teams worked around-the-clock to make repairs, keep customers informed, distribute emergency drinking water in the affected suburbs and carry out extensive water sampling to ensure the water supply was safe, to be able to lift the notice as quickly as possible.

In October 2021, we successfully passed our drinking water Hazard and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification audit. Our HACCP Plan is a key component of our Drinking Water Risk Management Plan which is required under the Safe Drinking Water Regulations.This year we also:

  • Commissioned an additional four chlorinators in our network to ensure we continue to maintain a multi-barrier approach to water quality. Design and construction of the six remaining units to be installed in the current price period also commenced.
  • Conducted routine inspections and maintenance of 14 water storage tanks.
  • Conducted approximately 12,900 water audits at customer properties, enabling greater use of recycled water in gardens, laundries and toilets.
  • Cleaned around 665 kilometres of water mains, removing natural sediment that can cause complaints.
  • Started a 12-month trial to assess the performance of five different types of online water quality monitoring equipment. We’ll consider installing suitable equipment identified from this trial at strategic locations across our network in the next regulatory period (2023-24 to 2028-29).
  • Launched an interactive online ‘all staff water quality awareness’ training module. This is part of a project to enhance the accessibility of the water quality training we provide across our business and to our delivery partners. 

We regularly report on water quality and more information can be found here.

Reliable water and sewerage services

Target: Less than 0.96% of customers experienced three or more unexpected water or sewerage service interruptions this year

Result: 0.84% – achieved

Our intention is to reduce service failures for customers who receive inconsistent levels of service. This year we achieved the target, with a similar number of customers experiencing three or more unexpected interruptions compared to last year. Our actions included:

  • Renewing 51km of aging and poor performing water mains.
  • Renewing 47km of aging and poor performing sewerage pipes.
  • Inspecting 214km of sewerage pipes to assess their condition and identify potential blockages.
  • Inspecting 665 property connection sewer branches to check the integrity of the pipes
  • Renewing more than 1,244 property connection sewer branches that impacted customers.
  • Installing over 620 water valves to reduce the potential number of customers having their water interrupted.
  • Rectifying over 2,100 valves and 1,900 hydrants to reduce the potential number of customers having their water interrupted.
  • Proving the location of over 2,100 valves and 4,900 hydrants that had been buried or moved, to reduce the potential number of customers having their water interrupted.
  • Identifying areas with a single source of water supply that were suitable for introducing a backup source of water supply to reduce customer impacts.
  • Implementing our failure prediction model into our water main renewals program, using machine learning techniques to increase the likelihood of identifying assets to replace before they fail.

This target is measured on a rolling five-year average basis, to minimise the impact of annual weather variations. This year, due to the actions we took and favourable weather conditions, 0.66% of customers experienced three or more water and sewerage interruptions. This equates to 0.84% of our customers experiencing three or more unexpected service interruptions on a rolling five-year average basis and meets our target of less than 0.96% customers impacted, as promised in our Price Submission.

Timely response and restoration

Target: 91% of customers’ water or sewerage service was restored within four hours

Result: 96.1% – achieved

You expect a fast response and effective restoration of your water and sewerage services if they’re interrupted. Our goal is to turn your water and sewerage services back on as quickly as possible, and our benchmark is to do this within four hours.

The seasonal challenge of getting to, and fixing emergency bursts and leaks quickly is ongoing as Melbourne experiences greater climate variability. We continued to focus on improving services including proactive and accessible communications and adjusting processes and procedures during peak summer periods.

To meet this target, we also:

  • Continued to optimise our seasonal escalation processes, by improving our resourcing strategies and managing expectations during peak periods about attendance and rectification timeframes of smaller faults.
  • Continued to work closely with our emergency maintenance contractors and other delivery partners, to review field processes and practices and find innovative ways to restore water or sewerage services sooner.
Fair access and assistance for all

Target: 89% of customers who have accessed our services believe we help customers experiencing difficulty paying for their water and sewerage services 

Result: 93% – achieved

Customers have told us they value extra support for customers who struggle to pay for their water and sewerage services. Customers also expect us to improve awareness of, and access to, the support options available to customers experiencing financial difficulty. This year we received an extra $1.2 million to help meet this goal and to reach 150,000 customers over five years.

In 2021-2022, coronavirus and public health restrictions continued to impact our customers. Building on the improvements from 2020-21, we continued focussing on appropriate resourcing so that we’re there for customers when they need us, for short or long-term support. This ensured we continued to maintain our high level of service and exceed our target, despite growing numbers of customers accessing support.

In 2021-22, we:

  • Worked with 6,544 new customers in our WaterCare Support program
  • Helped transition 5,989 customers back to mainstream payments after a period of time experiencing hardship.

Key activities over this period:

  • Enabled easier access to cross-sector support options for customers, through the One Stop One Story Hub to help connect people to support across a range of essential services, not just water.
  • Worked closely with recovery agencies and existing partners to share information about support options available to customers in the Dandenong Ranges impacted by a severe weather event in June 2021.
  • Helped customers access over $3 million worth of Utility Relief Grants payments.
  • Increased the capability and capacity of staff who support and service customers, with training in hardship awareness, respectful communication training, resilience and family violence.

Coronavirus changed the way we reach customers

During 2021-22, lockdown restrictions meant our primary communication and engagement channels were predominantly online. This included Council and community networks, financial counsellors and other stakeholders - sharing information, staying in touch and keeping abreast of the emerging issues facing the community. Improving our engagement with culturally and linguistically diverse communities was an important focus.

To raise awareness of the support available, and to improve access this support, we:

  • Presented to community partners, sent newsletters and built connections with new partners through:
    • Participating in a Migrant Information Centre East program to present to community leaders about WaterCare and our family violence support.
    • Ongoing partnerships and programs such as Waterbabies and Leading the Change with Outer East Football Network and Eastern Health.
    • Recommencing in-person engagement at a Bring Your Bills Day with Hume Council.
  • Proactively contacted over 5,000 customers who may be eligible for a Utility Relief Grant, helping customers access $341,000 in debt relief.
  • Launched a new WaterCare awareness campaign to reach customers who may need access to our support programs. To broaden our reach, we’ve used multiple touchpoints, including social media and have adapted the program for different languages, First Nations audiences and the deaf and hard of hearing community.
  • Connected, through a new pilot partnership with the Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, with people experiencing stressful life events which can trigger financial vulnerability.
  • Ran a second round of the Community Water Efficiency program to fund plumbing improvements for local community centres and not-for-profit organisations – saving them money that can otherwise be channelled into supporting community members.
Modern flexible service

Target: 86% of customers are satisfied with their most recent interaction
Result: 88% achieved

We’re committed to providing the best service possible to our customers, creating great experiences, and ensuring customers are satisfied with each interaction they have with us.

Throughout the 2021-22 period, we were able to reduce our costs to serve customers while simultaneously improving the customer experience by investing in digitisation and automation across the customer experience lifecycle.

The customer experience-led improvements we made include:

  • Continuing work on re-designing and improving our online self-service portals for customers and land developers.
  • Launching a pilot for a Chat Bot to handle several routine customer transactions more efficiently.
  • Developing and launching our WaterCare campaign to reach, and offer, tailored financial support services to customers experiencing hardship.
  • Researching and planning accessibility improvements to our website to better meet users’ needs now and into the future.
  • Starting to plan for an accessibility experience audit that will inform our new inclusion policy, practices and standards across all customer experiences.
  • Deepening our understanding of customers’ accessibility needs around digital water meters. We undertook this research as part of our work assessing the viability of rolling out digital meters to customers’ properties in the future.
  • Developing an approach to automate the ongoing measurement of our customers’ experiences. This will set us up to use the latest data analytics and machine learning technology to make better decisions for our customers.
Care for and protect the environment

Target: 46.1% reduction in carbon emissions (cumulative) compared to 2016-17 baseline of 34,083 tonnes CO2e

Result: 46.3% achieved

We’ve pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 64% by 1 July 2025. This Emissions Reduction Pledge is our response to lessening the impact of our energy intensive core services, which have significant environmental implications.

To reach this year’s goal and work towards our Emissions Reduction Pledge, we:

  • Consolidated our transition away from carbon intensive fuels by increasing our renewable electricity use to 66%.
  • Further improved energy productivity to reduce energy consumption so we get the most out of every unit of energy we consume.
  • Committed to the Growing Carbon project in collaboration with Melbourne Water and Greater Western Water to enable small-scale biodiverse carbon plantings in the Port Phillip and Western Port Region.

To reach our future goals and work towards our Emissions Reduction Pledge, we will:

  • Install more electric vehicle charging infrastructure to accelerate our transition towards a zero-emission fleet by 2030.
  • Expand renewable electricity generation at our first waste to energy facility - the additional energy is around 15% of our energy requirements.
  • Build a second, larger food waste to energy facility to process food waste and create electricity, which will transform up to 150 tonnes of waste per day into 33,000 kWh of renewable energy – around 33% of our energy requirements.
  • Continue to source 20% of our energy requirements from a large-scale solar farm in north-west Victoria that is facilitated by Zero Emissions Water Ltd (ZEW).
  • Construct a 1,296kW floating solar system at our Wallan sewage treatment plant that will also improve the quality of feedstock water for our recycled water treatment plant
  • Continue with plans to install non-invasive large market ground-mounted solar systems at five sites.

Outcomes we didn't meet

Water availability and conservation

Target: 211 litres of water used per person per day

Result: 219 litres per person per day – not achieved

This target reflects our customers’ expectations that we achieve ongoing efficiencies to help save water now for the future.

Our ambitious annual target of 211 litres of water use per person a day in 2021-22 is a holistic measure made up of the water:

  • We buy from Melbourne Water
  • Customers use at home and at work. The target 155 water conservation program encourages Melbourne households to use a maximum of 155 litres of water per person per day
  • Used for firefighting and other authorised purposes
  • Lost due to system leakage, bursts and leaking pipes.

Overall water use has decreased significantly in recent years - from 233 litres in 2018-19 to 221 litres per day in 2019-20, to 219 litres per day in 2021-22. 

We undertook the following programs and initiatives to meet this target:

  • Delivered the Make Every Drop Count campaign, a collaborative water conservation campaign with the metropolitan Melbourne water corporations. The campaign was developed to help Victorians conserve water and specifically to support the Victorian Government’s overarching Target 155 objective. A campaign analysis is yet to be completed, but initial expectations are that it reaches over 75 per cent of Melburnians at least once.
  • Continued delivering the water conservation education program in primary schools across our service area. Despite two terms being impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, the program has delivered 50 incursions.
  • Continued to pilot a showerhead exchange program, with over 750 water-efficient showerheads provided to customers.
  • Inducted 25 new schools into the School Water Efficiency Program, bringing the total number of participating schools to over 330.
  • Provided recycled water to over 41,000 properties, with significant investment across the recycled water network and treatment plants to increase reliability and production of recycled water.
  • Produced 377 million litres of recycled water for councils to use on public gardens and sporting ovals, and for non-drinking purposes at homes.
  • Extended our recycled water main network to over 680 kilometres.
  • Conducted approximately 12,910 recycled water audits at customer properties, enabling greater use of recycled water in gardens, laundries and toilets.
  • Saved 1,516 million litres of water through proactive leak detection across 3,176 kilometres of water mains and pipes.
  • Saved 889 million litres of water by proactively monitoring our network for leaks that aren’t visible at ground level.
  • Installed an additional 108 network flow and pressure monitoring devices in our water supply network to identify leaks that aren’t visible from the surface. This means 26 per cent of our water supply network is monitored in real-time so we can investigate and repair leaks faster.

We’ll continue to strive for our ambitious water use target to support a secure water future for our customers - the target for 2022-23 is 210 litres of water per person a day.

As we didn’t achieve this target, we’ll return $1.5 million to customers via 2022-23 prices, as promised in our 2018-23 Price Submission.

View our performance from 2020-21

View our performance from 2019-20

View our performance from 2018-19

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