Chairman and Managing Director’s review

This year has been a year of change for Sydney Water. We’ve come a long way with a new vision, a clear strategic direction and a corporate structure to support us in moving forward.

While there are some things that we do well, like providing high quality drinking water and wastewater services to our customers, we recognise there are other areas where we need to improve. The future requires us to operate more efficiently and in a way that provides value for our customers.

Our new structure gives us much clearer roles and accountabilities, a greater focus on strategy and service delivery, and removes much of the duplication that has crept into the business.

Now that we have these important foundations in place, we will continue to evolve our customer culture, listen to our customers and build what they have to say into our decision-making.

Focusing on our customers

This financial year, we continued to connect with and respond to customers in an honest and transparent way.

Our new Twitter and Facebook pages allow the community to discuss a range of issues related to water, public health and sustainability. They also give customers information on services, worldwide sustainability initiatives, and media-related news and updates.

Through social media, we launched our tap™ program, which aims to promote our drinking water as the most sustainable choice.

To improve our service, we successfully trialled changes to our out of hours service for fixing non-critical leaks and breaks. We also enhanced our range of assistance options and payment arrangements for customers facing financial difficulties. Moving forward we will continue to work with these customers and community service agencies.

We know that customers want more than just standard services. We are diversifying so we can give customers products and services that they value and address growing expectations around value for money.

Striving for business excellence

In December each year, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) releases a report on the quality of our drinking water for the previous financial year. In its 2011 report, IPART commended us for our excellence in water quality in 2010–11 and gave us a high compliance rating for our drinking water quality. We will continue to protect public health and provide high quality drinking water to the satisfaction of our regulators and customers.

We know the community supports competition in water as a way of delivering infrastructure and improving productivity. This will bring greater innovation for the water industry, which is a win for customers.

With private sector entrants already applying to become retailers and/or network operators, we expect we will no longer be the sole water utility in some parts of Sydney.

In a competitive market, we will measure customer satisfaction by those who choose us as their water provider. Focusing on customers and getting ready for increased competition is a priority.

We also refinanced Sydney Desalination Plant Pty Limited to lower our debt, maximise the proceeds for the Government and create additional capacity for investment in other priorities.

In June 2012, IPART announced that our price increases for the next four years are less than the rate of inflation. It also determined significant changes to how we charge for some services.

We welcomed changes that mean fairer and more transparent pricing for customers. We worked with IPART, consumer groups and business customers to help get the best outcome.

IPART asked us to find $173 million in business efficiencies across the organisation. We accept this challenge and will drive these efficiencies to ensure we continue to deliver quality services.