National urban water reform priorities and options made public

A report setting out a “pragmatic and inclusive” approach to national urban water reform has been made public a year after being handed to the Federal Government.

Commissioned by the Urban Water Reform Committee (UWRC), the report sets out how reforms in the areas of institutional arrangements, planning, service delivery, regulation and information, can be advanced through “sequenced priorities and actions”.

According to the UWRC, “ongoing and emerging challenges demand attention to ensure water security and advance the urban water sector.

“Climate change will increasingly alter urban environments, including through reduced inflows, higher temperatures, and increased flood risks.

“Growing urban populations will continue to increase demand for water and wastewater services in metropolitan areas, while many regional and remote communities continue to experience service delivery challenges.”

Australia’s urban water infrastructure assets have an estimated value of $170 billion, with $4.5 billion invested in capital expenditure in 2017-18 and investment requirements likely to grow into the future.

“Given this,” the report says, “even modest increases in the prudence and efficiency of investments and delivery of services can equate to significant benefits and improvements to customers, communities and the Australian economy.

The report, Advancing the urban water sector: A framework and roadmap for coordinated action “has been edited to remove personal and sensitive information, and to improve readability for publication”.

Since it was published in 2019, the UWRC has endorsed the proposed principles and framework and undertaken work “in support of identified priorities and actions”.