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Our strategy

Great value for customers and community through excellence in rural water management.

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Our vision

Our vision is "Great value for customers and community through excellence in rural water management".

In delivering our vision, our aspirations are to provide:

  • customer value through outstanding service
  • community value to help our regions thrive
  • excellence in everything we do by empowering our people to deliver results.

Our foundations will enable us to be: financially sound, resilient and insight-driven, operate efficient systems, and be a great partner, an outstanding asset manager and a trusted resource steward.

Our people are at the heart of everything we do. It is our people who build these foundations and apply them to bring our aspirations to life.

Our Corporate Strategy

Strategies, report and plans

Our history

Southern Rural Water was formed when the Rural Water Corporation was dissolved. The Rural Water Corporation started life in 1907 as the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria – with wide ranging responsibilities for water supply and distribution in rural and regional Victoria.

By the 1990s, however, many irrigators were not happy about some of the activities of the Rural Water Corporation. When irrigators protested over charges, the government established the McDonald Review to look at the future management of the Rural Water Corporation.

In 1992 the McDonald Review set in train the dissolution of the Rural Water Corporation by establishing regional advisory boards. In 1994, the Rural Water Corporation was separated into five independent rural water authorities.

For Southern Rural Water, the final step occurred on 1 July 1995 when the two authorities in southern Victoria (Southern and Gippsland) were combined to form our current organisation.

Customer and community engagement 

At Southern Rural Water, we engage with our customers and community at a strategic, project and operational level, often leveraging our engagement with partners across our service area.  

We engage across a large geographical area in the southern half of Victoria, from South Australia to the New South Wales border, supplying irrigation water to approximately 9,000 customers; regulating groundwater and rivers; and managing major infrastructure assets

  • Who are our customers and stakeholders?

    Our customers are our Macalister, Werribee and Bacchus Marsh irrigators, and licensed river and groundwater diverters. They buy and sell water, and pay for licences to take water from river systems and beneath the ground. 

    Community stakeholders are defined as community groups, organisations and local councils that have a shared interest in the work - and consequences − of Southern Rural Water’s operations in their local area. Community stakeholders can provide advice on environmental issues, cultural heritage and catchment planning.  We are continually exploring how we can support the work of communities in the areas we serve by sponsoring community events, fundraisers and charitable projects − any initiative that enhances community cohesion and social connectedness. 

    Stakeholders are defined as water industry, regulatory and compliance stakeholders that intersect with the operations of Southern Rural Water, particularly in the supply of recycled water, integrated water management planning, and cultural and environmental heritage. 

    At present, we engage via these mechanisms: 

    We are always looking to improve how we engage with our customers and stakeholders, and in 2023 introduced the Strategic Futures Forum (covering the gamut of customer and stakeholder interest, from agribusiness, licensing, compliance and the environment) and the grower focused Bacchus Marsh drop-in sessions. 

  • Engagement objectives

    Where possible, we undertake engagement early and in an open and transparent manner, utilising the International Association for Public Participation’s (IAP2) Public Participation Spectrum. This is a global model for how community members, groups and stakeholders can be engaged, along with the level and type of engagement. IAP2 outlines five levels of engagement—Inform, Consult, Involve, Collaborate, and Empower.  

    By engaging early, it can help to build confidence and buy-in. Good engagement generates trust and goodwill, and: 

    • improves transparency in decision-making processes 
    • promotes a shared understanding 
    • builds a stronger evidence base to inform decisions.  
    • meets regulatory requirements. 
  • In support of good engagement

    Supporting good engagement is effective communication, so that customers and the community better understand our role as a water regulator and manager that is delivering positive outcomes for the agricultural economy in southern Victoria.  

    When we engage, we seek to ensure customers are aware of the following: 

    • Southern Rural Water’s role as a resource steward, water regulator, storage and irrigation district operator and recreational water facilities manager.  
    • Our work in supporting food production in southern Victoria. 
    • Our expertise in managing critical projects and initiatives that support the agricultural economy.