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Price submission and performance

The Essential Services Commission has approved our Price Submission, covering a five year period from July 2018 to June 2023.

The outcomes in this plan reflect our focus on finding cost savings and new revenue, allowing us to invest more than $65m to deliver service improvements through modernisation of our business, while keeping prices affordable for customers and ensuring our own financial sustainability.

Most customers will see prices remaining stable or reducing slightly:

  • unregulated groundwater and rivers customers will see an annual price reduction of 2.3% before inflation.
  • prices in Macalister and Werribee Irrigation districts will remain stable, rising only with CPI.
  • after a period of reduced prices in the BMID, customers will see a slight increase of 1.7% (before inflation) to manage the contribution towards modernisation of the district.

We have also restructured our tariffs, simplifying and reducing many charges

Southern Rural Water’s five-year 2018 Price Submission

What is a price submission?
The 2018 Price Submission was our proposal to the Essential Services Commission in relation to price and service for the period 2018-2023.

After assessing our Price Submission, the Essential Services Commission has made a determination which specifies the process for setting prices over the next five years. This includes a limit on the total revenue we can raise over the period.

Our engagement process
The ESC praised our strong relationships with customers. Our ongoing engagement with customers includes:

  • Customer Consultative Committees (CCCs)
  • strong relationships between our field staff and customers
  • a dedicated Customer First team reviewing the ways we provide service
  • regular Board meetings with customers and visits to their businesses
  • focused engagement for all major projects
  • detailed customer surveys every two years
  • short transactional customer surveys and feedback
  • regular newsletters, website and social media updates.

All of this engagement is shaping our strategic direction and planning through to 2030, including many elements of this Price Submission.

Additional engagement specific to this submission included discussions with many customers we don’t often hear from as well a series of workshops and focus groups across our region to maximise the opportunity for customers to participate.

We asked what is most important to you what service improvements we should deliver over the next few years. We also asked for customers’ views and questions on all aspects of our service delivery and water management.

We thank everyone who contributed, making our proposal a document that reflects the priorities of our customers.

What is important to you?
You told us what matters most to you as water users and customers of SRW. These became our “customer outcome” goals which are:

SRW provides great customer service

  • Customers can access SRW’s services and information in the manner they prefer (whether online, face-to-face or over the phone)
  • SRW responds to customer queries and processes applications promptly,

SRW’s water supply system enables good practice irrigation

  • SRW’s irrigation district infrastructure provides improved service levels, is efficient and reliable

SRW manages water resources well, maintaining a good balance between my needs as a water user and the sustainability of the resource

  • SRW is committed to resource management that maximises the water available for consumptive use while ensuring overall sustainability.

SRW works with me to manage my water needs and entitlements

  • SRW is committed to helping customers to meet their business goals in a variable and changing climate.

SRW keeps prices as low as possible

SRW is committed to modernising our whole business with minimal price increases.

Our results for 2020-21

In this report, the water business provides a summary report of its actual performance against each of its outcome commitments for the 2020-21 reporting year. The business has given itself a “traffic light” rating (green = met target, red = not met, yellow = close or largely met) for its performance on each measure, outcome and an overall rating. The business has provided its own comments about its performance on each outcome and overall.

Business comments

We have met or exceeded targets for 14 out of 20 indicators. We have had marked improvements in delivery efficiency in the Bacchus Marsh Irrigation District, while the results for the Macalister and Werribee districts have improved across the price submission period, they were slightly below our targets. These variances were largely driven by the natural seasonal factors with a higher rainfall and were also affected by the introduction of new infrastructure which will improve future performance.

We have not been able to make available the additional water that we had expected due the complexities of converting savings to entitlements but have updated our website so that customers are aware of the opportunities to access additional water.

Outcome 1: SRW provides great customer service

Business comment

Despite ongoing disruptions to our business due to COVID 19, we have continued to exceed our target for application processing.

Outcome 2: SRW's water supply system enables good practice irrigation

Business comment

We have continued to face challenges with channel pool performance in the Macalister Irrigation District. Channel pool performance is a measure of the water available for customers and whilst levels fell slightly and were below target, we have considered the impact to customers through the water ordered and water delivered and as customer value is a key driver, the delivery reliability at 100% supports our customers receiving water orders.

Our delivery efficiencies were slightly below target but within the tolerance of natural seasonal variation, higher rainfall seasons have an impact on our efficiency as we often have an increase in cancelled customer orders, for the 2020-21 season cancelled orders were at 12%, importantly as detailed above, customers received 100% of orders. In addition to this we are updating our irrigation planning system, which will further assist in meeting customer needs.

The challenges on our efficiency target in the Werribee Irrigation District are largely due to the commissioning of a new automated trash rack, this will provide significant improvements to reliability of the system moving forward, but caused a short term issue with our efficiency during commissioning. In addition to this there was also a major leak on our spur 4/1 pipeline, both of these have now been resolved and as such we expect improved efficiency moving forward.

Outcome 3: SRW manages water resources well, maintaining a good balance between my needs as a water user and the sustainability of the resource

Business comment

We have met or exceeded all of our targets in this area.

Outcome 4: SRW works with me to manage my needs and entitlements

Business comment

COVID-19 had a significant impact on our ability to meet with customers on-farm, resulting in fewer opportunities to promote water trading between customers. This measure is also greatly impacted by seasonal variation, given it was a wetter season, water is more plentiful and there is less incentive to sell. This was demonstrated when we have a drought reserve auction in the Latrobe system in November 2020 with only one buyer.

Our targets for release of additional water entitlements were based on capturing savings through our irrigation modernisation projects and making these available to customers. This involves a complex process, working closely with key stakeholders in the Department for Environment, Land and Water Planning to validate the savings and convert them to shares, which are signed off by the Minister for Water which can then be traded. With greater clarity on the likely timing of release we have developed a plan, which is board endorsed, that indicates when the water is likely to be available and have updated our website to inform customers of future opportunities to acquire additional water.

Although not a specific target, we did make 1,990 ML available on the open market for Mitchell River winterfill entitlements with over 34 irrigators purchasing entitlements which demonstrates release of additional water.

Our prices

Our prices for 2019-20 are consistent with the indicative price paths from our 2018 Price Submission. We set prices annually to reflect our operating and capital budgets, within the constraints of our total revenue requirement.

You can find the 2019-20 Tariff Schedule online.

Click here for 2018 Price Submission.

Southern Rural Water acknowledges and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and waters on which we work and live, and we respect their deep and ongoing connection to Country. For more about the First Nations peoples on whose Country we work, click here.