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28 April 2010
The Parliamentary Secretary for Water, Dr Mike Kelly, today launched two national 'report cards' that tell Australians how well their urban water utilities and rural water providers are performing.
Dr Kelly said "Across Australia, urban and rural water suppliers are under pressure to meet community demands in the face of population growth and increasing climate variability.
"These reports are produced by the National Water Commission to help consumers and governments make informed judgements on whether their water needs are being met, efficiently and sustainably.
"The Urban National Performance Report 2008-09 shows the unprecedented investment being made by Australia's major metropolitan water utilities to diversify and secure our sources of urban water."
Australia's urban water utilities made a record investment in 2008-09 of $8.1 billion; up from $4.5 billion in 2007-08. This approximately 90% increase reflects the timing of major capital works programs - predominately by the major utilities - to deliver new sources of bulk supply through desalination plants, recycling projects and new pipelines.
"At the same time, overall water use remains very low compared with historical levels. Household consumption patterns reflect the impacts of demand initiatives such as water restrictions, as well as the enduring legacy of water conservation measures."
The third Rural National Performance Report 2008-09 presents data for approximately 90% of the rural network water supply across Australia.
"This report shows that drought conditions continue to impact the operations of many rural water service providers, with irrigation supply providers being the most affected.
"Through our $12.9 billion Water for the Future plan, the Rudd Government is working to secure the long-term water supply for both urban and rural Australians", said Dr Kelly.
"Under that initiative, we will continue to invest in desalination, water recycling and stormwater harvesting projects. We are also working to build sustainable rural water use through more efficient infrastructure that will deliver benefits for both farmers and the environment."
The National Performance Reports deliver on a key commitment in the National Water Initiative to annually benchmark water pricing and service quality, and to do so independently and publicly. Good quality information on the performance of our water utilities is vital to ensure the industry is accountable and responsive to community needs.
The urban water report was prepared by the National Water Commission, all state and territory governments, and the Water Services Association of Australia. The rural report was prepared by the Commission in conjunction with state governments.
The reports and a detailed backgrounder are available online at www.nwc.gov.au