2014 State of the Water Sector Report

The Australian Water Association (AWA) and Deloitte are pleased to present the State of the Water Sector Report 2014. 
The Report is the only one of its kind, reporting on the trends and insights of water sector professionals about their own industry.
The survey results reveal attitudes and behaviours, reporting on how they have changed over the past three years. 

Executive summary

The Australian water industry is working well
Those that know the sector best regard it as working well. 64% of respondents thought the sector was ‘very sound’ and ‘quite sound’. Water professionals believe that ensuring sewage is effectively treated and disposed of, and ensuring water supplies are secure are what they are doing best. 

The immediate issues
The need to improve operational efficiency has been articulated as the top issue facing the water sector, reflecting the continued concern about the need to control costs and demonstrate value for money within the sector. Water professionals were also focused on the need to place attention on maintaining and augmenting infrastructure, ensuring water supplies are secure and responding to community concern over prices.

What we should worry about for the future 
To ensure there is a sound sector in the future, water professionals said that the greatest concern in five years’ time was ensuring we have a sustainable water supply. Although the sector believed the security of supply was being managed well, this shows the acknowledgement of the challenges of increasing competing demands, climate change and population growth. 

Many options, many solutions 
When it comes to water supply options, there are more than you think. The Report shows what the industry, who are the ones developing and delivering on new technologies, believe to be safe supply options for potable use. 

Dams: Eighty-four per cent of respondents at least ‘somewhat agreed’ that dams are an effective method of managing water security within their region and 55% felt that there is scope for more dams to be built. Although, the percentage of respondents that at least ‘somewhat agreed’ diminished when specifically asked about the need for more ‘big dams’ in particular regions. The percentage fell 10% in support of ‘big dams’ in Northern Australia (North-West WA, NT and Far North QLD) (45%) and 18% in Southern Australia (Murray-Darling Basin and South-East Coastal Areas) (37%). 

Desalination: An overwhelming number of respondents (96%) believed that desalinated seawater can be treated and managed to a level that is sufficient for safe and reliable potable supply. 

Recycled water: 87% agreed that recycled water can be treated and managed to a level that is sufficient for safe potable supply. 

Urban stormwater: Around 79% of respondents also believe that urban stormwater can be treated and managed to a level that is sufficient for safe potable supply. 

Water prices are about right
Although there is a lot of media hype about consumers’ thoughts on water prices, the water professionals mainly believe water pricing is about right. Even more so than last year.
The emerging issues to tackle 
Climate change was identified as posing a significant or moderate risk to the sustainable management of water by 86% of respondents. For the first time the survey tested views on public private partnerships and found that over 81% of respondents believed there were opportunities for more public private partnerships. The State of the Water Sector Report series is a periodic examination of the Australian water sector.
Download the report

2013 State of the Water Sector Report

The Australian Water Association (AWA) and Deloitte have released the third edition of their annual State of the Water Sector Report, which tracks trends and provides insights into the views of sector professionals and where they see the industry today and into the future. The findings - which include a national overview as well as state and territory-specific reports – are based on responses from over 1500 participants across this diverse industry sector. The national report covers a range of issues, including:
  • Water security
  • Economic regulations and industry structure
  • Dams
  • Desalination
  • The price of water

As dry seasonal conditions have eased in all states aside from West Australia, and water security issues have been addressed, our survey results show that water professionals have turned their primary focus to operational efficiencies as well as the need to maintain and augment existing water infrastructure.
Download the report

2012 State of the Water Sector Report

The AWA/Deloitte State of the Water Sector Report 2012 is an analysis of a survey of almost 2000 water professionals about the state of the industry and the relative importance of the issues it faces. The survey collected the views of those who understand the sector best;  those who know if a system is well managed or not, is being maintained properly or is being allowed to run down, is performing to specifications or is at risk, is financially sound or is costing the community more than it should. The 2012 State of the Water Sector Report is built on the 2012 survey and associated reports by tracking trends over time and by testing sector participants’ views of emerging issues.

Download the report

2011 State of the Water Sector Report

The Australian Water Association and its research partner Deloitte have carried out a survey of water sector participants’ attitudes to the critical issues facing the sector. The State of the Water Sector Survey was conducted in late 2010. In all, 1,162 responses were received and a Preliminary Report presenting the results was released at the end of that year.
Based on this quantitative data, interviews were conducted with water sector leaders to gather qualitative information about the perceptions of those who are guiding the industry, now and into the future. Together, these two pieces of work provide a comprehensive view of the state of the Australian water sector, rural and urban.
Download the Preliminary Report

Download the State of the Water Sector Survey 2011
The quantitative data arising from the 2010 survey has also been prepared as a series of state/territory based reports highlighting difference among respondents in particular jurisdictions and the national sample. The state/territory-based reports can be downloaded from the links below:
New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia