This focus area intends to encourage greater collaboration between local water utilities in regional NSW by:
- Connecting utilities facing similar issues so they can share insights and learnings and facilitate knowledge capture across the sector providing clearer guidance on potential opportunities and incentives for utilities to explore regional collaboration
- Investigating and implementing further options to encourage a greater focus on joint and regional solutions in utility strategic planning and facilitate improved resource sharing between utilities
- Developing and implementing mechanisms to ensure regional water strategies and utility strategic service planning inform each other and effectively align their modelling, risk and options analyses where these relate to town water supplies.
We engaged extensively to better understand successful existing collaborative approaches and opportunities for utilities to participate in collaboration. This included a series of face-to-face meetings and workshops in mid-2021 with key stakeholders (including various Joint Organisations of Councils and the NSW Water Directorate), and an online workshop in August 2021 with over 70 participants from across the sector.
We have established a range of pilots to evaluate and test collaborative approaches to reduce risks in key areas identified in through the engagement process, including:
Councils/local water utilities involved
Namoi Joint Organisation
Gunnedah Shire Council
Gwydir Shire Council
Liverpool Plains Shire Council
Tamworth Regional Council
Walcha Council and
Warrumbungle Shire Council
Trade waste audit and development of shared service business case for the consideration of participating councils.
Kempsey Shire, Mid-Coast, Nambucca Shire and Port Macquarie Hastings Councils
Reduce asset management risks through a shared asset management gap analysis and capacity building process.
Orana Water Utilities Alliance
Bogan Shire Council
Bourke Shire Council
Brewarrina Shire Council
Cobar Shire Council
Coonamble Shire Council
Gilgandra Shire Council
Mid-Western Regional Council
Narromine Shire Council
Walgett Shire Council
Warren Shire Council
Warrumbungle Shire Council
Skills and training pilot to:
- Reduce water quality, environment and operational risks
- Mapping competencies and skills for operators across the urban water cycle
- Develop training needs analysis for each utility in Alliance to identify training gaps and attracting training providers
- Develop template for other utilities to self-determine training needs.
Canberra Region Joint Organisation
Bega Valley Shire Council
Eurobodalla Shire Council
Goulburn Mulwaree Regional Council
Queanbeyan Palerang Regional
Snowy Monaro Regional Council
Snowy Valleys Council
Upper Lachlan Shire Council
Wingecarribee Shire Council
Yass Valley Council
Established a Water Utilities Working Group, with an opt-in model.
Bourke and Cobar Shire Councils
Test remote communication technology as a way of supporting local water utility operations. TWRRP has funded an external contractor to provide this support on a trial basis.
The pilots will be evaluated later in 2022 and will inform future opportunities and incentives developed by the department for utilities to explore regional collaboration. We will also make further guidance on regional collaboration available by the end of 2022.