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Water utility essential works continue despite COVID-19

Despite Australia’s largest capital being in lockdown due to COVID-19, it’s been business as usual for Sydney Water frontline staff.

This includes responding to a landslip near Parramatta, which Sydney Water Incident Site Manager John Daoud said was triggered by recent rainfall that eroded the Toongabbie Creek embankment.

“We attended the site immediately to investigate, and found a wastewater carrier had been impacted by the erosion of the creek bank,” he said. 

“We quickly mobilised our equipment onsite and set up a bypass to protect the environment and connect with the existing wastewater while we worked to identify a permanent fix of the pipes.

“This is just a snapshot of what we do every day – while most people are in self-isolation, our work doesn’t stop because of COVID-19.”

Sydney Water crews have also been taking full advantage of empty streets during lockdown, particularly in the CBD, to prioritise repair and upgrade projects.

Sydney Water Head of Program Delivery Mark Simister said the utility is seizing the opportunity of the quieter streets to do work that would normally be disruptive.

Sydney Water crews have been taking advantage of the quieter streets. (Image: Sydney Water) Sydney Water crews have been taking advantage of the quieter streets. (Image: Sydney Water)

“We are being as agile as possible in the way we program our works so we can minimise the impacts of the projects to customers now and once lockdown restrictions are lifted,” he said. 

“This work includes upgrades to parts of the stormwater network throughout the city, along with road restoration work as part of Refresh Woolloomooloo.”

Sydney Water’s contact centre has also trialled new software, enabling its staff to work from home and continue to provide services to its customers, General Manager Customer Services Kathy Hourigan said.

“The lockdown has presented us with the opportunity to fast-track technology to enable our Contact Centre, Customer Hub and Customer Care teams to receive call customer phone enquiries at home,” she said. 

“Our contact centre is continuing to offer advice on the range of financial support programs we have available to ensure our customers have resources to pay their bills.”