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Our performance in 2018-19

In 2018-19, we worked towards seven service outcomes that customers told us they most valued and expected from their water and sewerage services.

With our customers in mind, we set ambitious targets for ourselves and we’re very pleased to report that we met five out of seven outcomes, especially against the backdrop of a hotter and drier year which put extra strain on delivering water and sewerage services. A summary of how we went including the targets and result for each is provided below.

2018-19 was the first year of our current Price Submission customer commitments and we put a price plan in place so bills remain stable, and we established a world-first innovation to voluntarily return funds to customers each year if we didn’t meet any of our stretch commitments.

We are committed to achieving all targets but if we don’t meet any, we will return $1.5 million per target to customers via prices in the following year. Therefore, prices in 2019-20 will be offset by a $3 million reduction.

In addition to our annual performance promise, we know that dealing with water and sewerage issues at home is inconvenient, unpleasant and makes life harder so we work towards guaranteed service levels every day. If we don’t meet them, impacted households will automatically receive a rebate on their next bill. Rebates are $50, $300 or $1000 depending on what has happened.

Our Price Submission commitments are measured from April 2018 to March 2019.

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.

    We have a comprehensive water quality monitoring program that ensures the water we supply is high quality, safe and pleasant to drink. This year an independent laboratory collected and tested over 7,000 water samples, and we monitored and tested the water from randomly selected customer taps in 32 different water quality zones – achieving 100% compliance.

    This year we also:

    • installed an additional three chlorinators to ensure we continue to maintain a multi-barrier approach to water quality.
    • conducted routine inspections and maintenance of 18 water tanks
    • completed over 14,000 water audits in recycled water areas
    • cleaned water mains, removing sediment that causes complaints
    • We also installed real-time monitoring equipment across our network to further understand chlorine penetration.

    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 3 or more unexpected water or sewerage service interruptions this year
    Result: 0.94% - achieved


    Our intention is to significantly reduce service failures year on year so you have constant and reliable water and sewerage services. To help us achieve this goal, we targeted high failure areas which were impacting customers. We:

    • renewed 68km of aging and poor performing water mains
    • renewed 59km of aging and poor performing sewerage pipes 
    • installed 560 water valves to reduce the potential number of customers impacted by a supply interruption
    • inspected 217km of sewerage pipes to assess their condition and identify potential blockages
    • inspected 539 house connection sewer branches to check the integrity of the pipes
    • renewed 1,843 house connection sewer branches which were impacting customers
    • developed a new approach for fixing leaking hydrants
    • developed a failure prediction model, using machine learning techniques, to increase the likelihood of identifying assets to replace before they failed. This approach has been implemented in our asset renewal programs.
  • Timely response and restoration

    Target: 91% of customers’ water or sewerage service was restored within 4 hours
    Result: 93.9% – 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. To get on top of this, we changed contract conditions and key performance indicators, improved processes and procedures, rolled out training and awareness to contractors and staff, and set up a dedicated division to work only with customers experiencing water and sewerage faults.

    To meet this target, we also:

    • added more crews over summer to fix the higher number of emergency bursts and leaks - warm, dry conditions consistently lead to more bursts and leaks and this year fault volumes were 13% higher than expected
    • reviewed how we prioritise faults and dispatch faults for repair to reduce errors and see where we could improve , resulting in more jobs repaired faster
    • set up a jeopardy management function to ensure timely intervention in work approaching the four hour limit, and to support incident response
    • started sending proactive SMS communication in response to our customers’ feedback that they wish to be kept informed and up to date if their water or sewerage services are impacted. The SMSes:
      • update customers who report the fault so they know when it will be investigated, when it’s repaired and when their local area will be restored
      • update or remind residential customers when their water has been turned off due to an emergency or an issue needs repairing
    • worked closely with our emergency maintenance contractors to improve their performance which meant customers’ water or sewerage services were restored 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: 89% - 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 our services among customers experiencing financial difficulty. This year we received an extra $1.2 million a year to help meet this goal and to reach 150,000 customers over five years.

    In 2018-19 we:

    • partnered with Eastern Health, Sports & Life Training, Whittlesea Community Connections, Victorian Multicultural Commission and local councils to reach over 35,000 customers who may not be aware of our support services due to language, isolation and physical and mental impairment
    • piloted the ‘Yarra Valley Water Hub’ at shopping centres in Broadmeadows, Preston and Greensborough to provide support to customers facing financial difficulty
    • worked with 7,280 new customers experiencing financial difficulty 
    • helped transition 4,681 customers back to mainstream payments after a period of hardship
    • proactively identified and contacted customers who may be eligible to receive concession rebates on their bill
    • introduced a volumetric step charge adjustment based on the number of people in the property, to help large households having difficulty paying their bill.
  • Care for and protect the environment

    Target: 4% reduction in carbon emissions (cumulative) compared to 2016-17 baseline of 34,083 tonnes CO2 e
    Result: 4.1% - achieved


    Our core services are energy intensive which has significant environmental implications. To lessen these impacts, we pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 64% by 1 July 2025 – our Emissions Reduction Pledge. 

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

    • installed 100kW solar panel systems at each of our Healesville, Upper Yarra and Whittlesea sewage treatment plants – each plant consumes in excess of 95% of the solar energy produced by the panels with the excess returned to the grid
    • installed 1,080 solar panels at our Mitcham head office staff car park which will generate close to 30% of our onsite energy needs
    • formed Zero Emissions Water Ltd (ZEW) with 13 other water corporations, to source 25% of our future energy needs at a cheaper wholesale rate from a large-scale solar farm under construction in north west Victoria
    • commenced plans to build a second, larger waste to energy facility to process food waste to create electricity, transforming up to 150 tonnes of waste per day into 33,000 kWh of renewable energy – around 30% of our energy needs. 

Outcomes we did not meet

  • Water availability and conservation

    Target: 221 litres of water used per person per day
    Result: 233 litres per person per day – not achieved


    We set an ambitious target of achieving 221 litres per person per day in 2018-19 – a holistic measure comprising the water we purchase from Melbourne Water, the water customers use at home and at work, non-revenue water used for fire fighting and water lost due to system leakage, bursts and leaks.

    The target wasn’t met as 2018-19 consumption measured up at 233 litres per day. This higher than forecast water use is due to increased demand from a growing population, and the hotter, drier weather this year. 2018 was the third driest year on record with flows into water storages 17% lower than the amount Melbourne needs.

    We will continue to aim for an ambitious water use target while being aware of the environment we’re operating in which includes:

    • low inflows to dams
    • declining water storage levels
    • ongoing climate change and variability
    • increased water use from a growing population
    • the 125GL desalinated water order in 2018-19
    • the value our customers place on saving water now so it’s available in the future.

    As a core customer service performance target that was not achieved, we will return $1.5 million to customers via 2019-20 prices, as promised in our Price Submission. 

    To meet this outcome we:

    • led extensive research into community attitudes towards water on behalf of the metropolitan water industry to help design an effective customer centric approach to water conservation – a Melbourne wide behaviour change program will be rolled out before next summer
    • worked towards providing recycled water to over 24,000 properties
    • extended the recycled water main network by more than 70 kilometres
    • conducted over 14,000 recycled water audits at customer properties, enabling greater access to recycled water for use in gardens, laundries and toilets
    • undertook 1,890 kilometres of proactive leak detection which saved 672 megalitres of water
    • installed 29 network flow and pressure monitoring devices in our water supply network to identify leaks which aren’t visible from the surface.
  • Modern flexible service

    Target: 86% of customers are satisfied with their most recent interaction
    Result: 82% - not achieved


    What we are doing to meet this outcome

    Customer satisfaction is incredibly important to us. We expect to see improvements on this target as we build on the work done this year, and work to resolve customers’ issues across all touchpoints by following through on our promises.

    To help us improve, we:

    • centralised the management of emergency and fault calls so our staff can provide specialist support and assistance to customers
    • realigned to respond better to our business customer needs – instead of a transaction or product based approach, we work with commercial customers in a holistic way and have expanded our customer service channels to increase face to face contact
    • introduced a post call survey for customers to give immediate feedback about their experience with our Customer Care team
    • started giving customers the opportunity to request a call back if they felt their issue wasn’t satisfactorily resolved
    • are working closely with our new meter reading contractor to improve the accuracy of meter readings for customers
    • commenced journey mapping customer satisfaction and pain points to identify priority areas for improvement.

    As we did not meet this Price Submission target, we will return $1.5 million to customers via 2019-20 prices.