Community report 2022 summary

Our annual Community Report provides a snapshot of our performance.

Our annual Community Report provides a snapshot of our performance over the last 12 months against some of the key promises and commitments we made in our 2018 Price Submission.

It’s an opportunity for us to tell our story. Unlike our formal annual reporting obligations, it contains case studies and commentary of where we think we have - or haven’t - achieved what we set out to deliver.

This is our honest assessment.

Read the detailed report.

Our assessment

We promised to ensure our water quality always meets the Safe Drinking Water Act. We also promised to ensure sewer spills within a house caused by us would be contained within an hour, and planned interruptions would be carried out within the time we said.

All of the water we supplied met the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This was confirmed by our weekly water testing and independent sample testing.

We didn’t cause any sewer spills within a house this year as a result of our preventative maintenance program.

Case study: Preparing for future growth

We completed a series of upgrades, renewals and new asset projects to strengthen our network for the future.

Some of the major projects we finished or progressed this year included:

  • Completing construction of our new Drouin wastewater treatment plant, which will cater to the town’s growing population.
  • Building a new water pipeline in Warragul to support development and increase the volume and security of water supplies for Drouin.
  • Building a pipeline to connect Coongulla and Glenmaggie to Heyfield’s more reliable water supply.
  • Replacing the cover and liner at our Sanders water basin in Churchill to provide protection and water security for at least the next 25 years.
  • Upgrading the existing sewer pump station in Dawson Street Sale to cater for growth and to continue to meet safety and environmental standards.
  • Upgrading the Moe water treatment plant to ensure a reliable drinking water supply for the Moe region.

We promised we’d be easy to deal with and resolve 88% of all customer enquiries at the first point of contact.

97% of all enquiries to our call centre were resolved at first point of contact.

We promised no more than 0.03 complaints per 1,000 customers would be investigated by the Energy and Water Ombudsman. 

We achieved this target with just two complaints investigated due to customer impacts after a wet weather event.

Case study: New customer notifications

In response to customer feedback, we started sending customers text messages if their water needed to be turned off. We also started sending emails to customers ahead of planned sewer works.

We also introduced a live outage map on our website. The outage map is automatically populated to show where works are taking place, as well as the type and status of each. Notifications to customers about outages now link directly to the outage on the map.

To make sure you receive text message and email notifications, check or register your email address or mobile number through our online services on our website.

Case study: Digital billing

We launched a new way to sign up for eBills.

The process makes it quicker and easier for customers to choose to get their bills delivered via email. It also means new customers and those moving house will automatically be registered for eBills.

We also updated our paper and eBills so that they’re easier to read and understand.

We promised to be affordable, fair and maintain services to customers who are experiencing hardship.

We are delivering on our promise to keep prices stable. With inflation at 5.09%, we made the decision to partially absorb the CPI increase.

Our customer care team continued to focus on reaching out to customers that have recently stopped paying by instalments to discuss the financial support options that best support their needs.

Case study: Supporting customers in hardship

We know that some of our customers have been feeling the pressure of increased costs of living and the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We continued to ensure anyone experiencing hardship receives the support from us that they need.

Our team proactively reached out to customers experiencing financial difficulties to let them know about the options available to assist them.

We also helped our customers apply for assistance through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s Utility Relief Grant program. 937 applications and $358,363.15 of funding was approved to help customers pay their water bills.

If you’re having difficulty paying your bill, get in touch as there are a range of ways we can help.

We promised to prepare for future growth and protect the environment.

We reused all biosolids delivered to our organics recycling business. We met our 95% water supply reliability target and we achieved our emissions target of no more than 38.6 tonnes (000's) total CO2 equivalent emissions.

Case study: Solar at Gippsland Water Factory

We installed a ground mounted solar array at our Gippsland Water Factory.

At its peak capacity, the 1,280 kilowatt system will be able to completely power the water factory. During peak power demand, a supporting diesel generator will also operate.

This renewable generation project will deliver environmental and financial savings, and will make a major contribution towards our commitment to make our operations 100% renewable powered by January 2025.

The new installation will be fully operational in 2022-23.

Case study: Net Zero by 2030

We committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and developed detailed plans for achieving this.

We also promised that by 2025, all our operations will be 100% powered by renewable energy technologies, including solar, hydroelectricity and biogas.

There are two main ways we plan to reach these goals.

  1. We’ll expand our existing renewable energy capability by continuing to install more solar, hydro-electric and biogas generation at more of our sites. We’ll also source renewable energy from Victorian markets and continue to support local generation initiatives.
  2. We’ll offset the small amount of carbon we’ll continue to emit. We’ve planted more than 200,000 native plants at our Dutson Downs property, which will remove 60,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere over the next 25 years. We’ll start a second planting project in the coming years, which will help us completely offset emissions from use of fleet vehicles and plant equipment, which rely on fossil fuels, by 2030.

We promised to spend at least $30,000 per year on community benefit programs.

We exceeded this promise by working with local councils to install 14 drinking water fountains in our service area. We also supplied in-kind support by donating reusable drink bottles to schools and community groups for events.

Case study: Engaging with our customers

Over the past year, we’ve been gathering feedback and insights from customers and stakeholders to get a deeper understanding of what they value and expect from us.

We spoke with over 3,500 people across our service area. We also delivered our first ever deliberative engagement summit where 30 customers explored, deliberated over and made recommendations on a series of significant material issues.

These insights have helped shape our 2023 Price Submission which will be submitted to the Essential Services Commission in September 2022. We also established a new model of customer and community engagement, representing a shift away from event-based consultation to a cyclical, ongoing approach.

There’s still ways to get involved. Check out to see the open opportunities.

Case study: Attracting locals to STEM careers

We’re passionate about attracting young locals to science, technology and engineering careers with us.

We want to create pathways for people to build rewarding careers right here in Gippsland.

This year, we started new traineeship and scholarship programs. These will complement our existing graduate and vacation employment programs and help to create meaningful employment pathways for local people.

Our water and water treatment trainees will get hands-on experience while gaining a nationally recognised qualification.

We have three scholarships available. Two are for Gippsland-based women entering their first year of engineering or science at Federation University’s Gippsland Campus. The third is for Aboriginal students beginning an undergraduate degree in courses relevant to our business functions including business, science, engineering or information technology.

Scholarship recipients can receive up to $3,000 per year for the first three years of their course, with the opportunity to get industry experience working with us.

We invested more than $43.3M into capital works projects to strengthen and upgrade our network.

We supported growth in our region by connecting 1,101 new households to our water services and 1,018 households to our wastewater services.

Investing in our network

Our top 10 capital works projects remain largely on track for completion in the five-year pricing period. We made some scheduling changes to achieve better outcomes for our customers, or to enable other more time critical projects to be brought forward.

Areas for improvement

We narrowly missed our target to have no planned interruptions going over advised times, with five taking longer than expected. These works were completed to a high standard and the delays were due to either bad weather, unexpected complexity, or delays in developer works.

Two planned interruptions missed our target to provide five days notice ahead of works taking place. The 36 customers affected received a $50 credit on their bill. Our new text message notifications will help us to reach customers more quickly in a way that suits them in the future.

We didn’t meet our targets for customers in hardship on payment plans. The proportion of hardship customers paying by instalments has decreased.

Cost of living pressures are being felt by the community, and some customers are struggling to commit to payment plans. We're continuing to reach out to customers in need of assistance and we plan to expand our customer care team to provide further support.

Case study: Preparing for future growth

This year, we prepared our Urban Water Strategy 2022.

Our Urban Water Strategy identifies what we need to do to ensure urban and industrial water availability and sewer capacity in our region for the next 50 years. Climate change, population growth and droughts put pressure on our water and sewer systems and this strategy puts plans in place to respond.

The strategy sets out 18 actions with a focus on Traditional Owners, engaging with our stakeholders, water efficiency and conservation, and system specific water and sewer augmentations.