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Local water utilities

Water utility strategic planning

Effective, evidence-based strategic planning by local water utilities helps manage current and future risks and contributes to the water security of their regions and the entire state.

About strategic planning

Local water utilities can best meet the needs of their customers when their decisions and activities are based on effective, evidence-based strategic planning. This will make sure utilities deliver safe, secure, accessible, and affordable water supply and sewerage services to customers. Strategic planning will help utilities manage key risks now and into the future.

Strategic planning is crucial to identifying and managing key risks to:

  • water security
  • water quality
  • the environment
  • assets and infrastructure
  • customers
  • the utility’s financial sustainability.

Local water utilities remain responsible for conducting strategic planning. Local water utilities’ strategic planning contributes to the water security of their regions and the entire state.

There is no single best-practice way for this work to be delivered. The department will work in partnership with local water utilities to support the integration of state, regional and local water utility strategic planning. We will play a leadership role and give access to our resources, as appropriate.

Strategic planning assurance

Under the new Regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities (PDF, 1100.53 KB), the department expects local water utilities to conduct effective, evidence-based strategic planning for water supply and sewerage services that applies the principles of adaptive planning and integrated water cycle management, and considers climate risks.

The department’s strategic planning assurance role under section 3 of the framework gives assurance of effective, evidence-based strategic planning and effective management of key risks to service provision. Under this assurance role, the department establishes what outcomes it expects effective, evidence-based strategic planning to achieve (see section 3.2) and assesses whether a local water utility’s strategic planning achieves these outcomes to a reasonable standard

Outcomes of effective, evidence based strategic planning and guidance on achieving outcome to a reasonable standard.

Our priority is to ensure strategic planning outcomes are achieved to a reasonable standard. Find out how we can help.

We will work with individual water utilities to develop a clear transition program from an Integrated Water Cycle Management strategy to the new regulatory and assurance framework.

Strategic planning assurance results

The dashboard below provides strategic planning assurance results for participating local water utilities as well as informs on utilities that have opted not to participate. For participating utilities, the dashboard includes the strategic planning assurance results, comments, the date of the last assessment and the next action the local water utility is due to perform.

Using the Integrated Planning and Reporting framework for local water utility strategic planning

We will continue to work with interested councils and joint organisations of councils over the next cycle of IP&R (from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2025) to support pilots using the IP&R framework for local water utility strategic planning.

The intention is to learn from these councils and share their knowledge, expertise, and learnings with the sector more broadly through future updates of this guidance.

Councils interested in participating in the pilot process should contact the Town Water Risk Reduction Program at regional.town.water@dpie.nsw.gov.au.

Further information

Support and advice

In addition to our regulatory role, we give technical and other advice to local water utilities proactively and whenever requested by the utility. The department can assist local water utilities with developing the project from concept through to tendering and commissioning.

Support and advice

Regulatory and assurance framework

The regulatory and assurance framework is designed to make sure that local water utilities manage risks effectively and strategically. It applies to local water utilities in regional NSW.

More about Regulatory and assurance framework