The Long Term Capital and Operational Plan is a major milestone in Sydney Water’s 135-year history. A significant plan that captures our key infrastructure and operational decisions to 2050, it ensures services to our customers adapt to a changing world.
With a range of challenges such as population growth, climate change, evolving technology and our own ageing infrastructure, we have a unique opportunity to rethink the way we provide essential services.
The Long Term Capital and Operational Plan is our response to these challenges and captures Sydney Water’s key infrastructure investment and operations decisions to 2050. This adaptive plan aligns with the NSW Government’s vision for Greater Sydney and the evolving priorities of our customers.
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. From Our Water, Our Voice, an intensive customer-led engagement program, we know customers’ views on water use and services have changed over the years and will continue to evolve. We have aligned our long-term investment plan to our customers’ priorities, which include resilience and sustainability, as well as safe water at an affordable price.
Investing now and in a new way ensures we serve our customers and the communities in which they live in the most meaningful way as we contribute to thriving, sustainable cities.
Due to our reliance on Warragamba Dam, Greater Sydney currently has the lowest rainfall independent water sources of any major city in Australia, at only 15 per cent. We need to invest now to transform and integrate our water, wastewater, stormwater, and recycled water systems to ensure the continued reliability and improved resilience of our systems for generations to come.
It is critical that Sydney’s water supply system evolves to build resilience to drought and extreme weather. We intend to increase the amount of rainfall independent supply within our water supply system from 15 per cent to up to 60 per cent over time, through purified recycled water* and desalination schemes. Building additional supply in this way diversifies our supply sources, reduces our reliance on dams and can save customers up to $2 billion.
Our investments are intended to avoid the economic impacts that very severe water restrictions would have, not only on Greater Sydney, but on New South Wales. Our adaptive plan outlines a balanced approach to investment which optimises cost impacts to customers by investing at the right time to mitigate risk and build greater resilience in our systems.
While our adaptive plan is centred around the pathway we have assessed to create the most value, we acknowledge that the future is uncertain, and our plan is adaptive to a range of scenarios.
*A future decision to include purified recycled water into Greater Sydney’s water supply would include community consultation and require stringent Government approvals
Over the next 10 years, our adaptive plan proposes that Sydney Water will invest about $34 billion. Our plan provides a balanced approach, enabling management of the most significant public health, environmental, and economic risks while maintaining the levels of service that customers expect.
In support of our changing city and customer priorities, we will prudently invest in enabling more effective and efficient operations, improved performance, asset renewals and key capital investments including progressing the potential delivery* of:
New Advanced Water Resource Recovery Facility at Upper Nepean
Purified Recycled Water Schemes at Liverpool and Glenfield, and Quakers Hill**
New Water Resource Recovery Facility at Camellia
Delivery of Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre
Bulk supply and transfer infrastructure (water, wastewater and recycled water)
*Investments identified within the plan are still required to adhere to the usual business case assurance processes, with justification and approval of the need, options, costs, etc required prior to investment being made.
**A future decision to include purified recycled water into Greater Sydney’s water supply would include community consultation and require stringent Government approvals.
The success of the Long Term Capital and Operational Plan will depend on three criteria:
Deliverability by developing a comprehensive investment plan, strengthening engagement with suppliers, and developing the capability of our workforce.
Financeability with our predictable income stream, introduction of Infrastructure Contributions and strong growth in our regulatory asset base providing strong cash flows for funding the capital investment.
Affordability needs of our customers and how costs are allocated immediately after investment.
The development of our first Long Term Capital and Operational Plan is a milestone for Sydney Water.
We have considered a range of investment options and have stress-tested the plan against several change scenarios, engaging adaptive planning principles and methods but – like any great adaptive plan – it cannot sit on a shelf.
We will continue to monitor and improve our long-term planning and respond to the changing world around us by scheduling a major update every five years – more frequently if needed – and a review every 12 months. We will also update several sections of the plan before our next pricing submission to IPART.