Over the past three years Goulburn Murray Water (GMW) has been transforming how it operates as the largest rural water corporation in Australia servicing more than 20,000 customers and managing assets valued at approximately $5 billion.
In 2017 I established an independent Strategic Advisory Panel to review GMW and set transformative actions so that GMW can viably support productive agriculture and communities in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID) well into the future.
The panel’s recommended actions to streamline GMW’s organisation and business include reducing operating and capital costs, strengthening its financial position to maintain affordable water prices for customers, improving asset management and renewing customer engagement.
This snapshot shows there have been significant improvements in GMW’s organisation and services. An independent audit of progress confirms that between 2018 and 2020, GMW has successfully addressed all of the panel’s 30 recommendations, with 25 now complete and 5 embedded into GMW’s ongoing business practices.
GMW’s review of capital and operational expenditure identified major cost savings achieved beyond the recommendations for financial sustainability. It led to a forecast reduction in revenue requirements of $64 million over the 2020-24 period and more affordable water prices, with most customers benefitting from a drop in fixed charges of around 10 per cent.
Many customers and stakeholders were consulted for GMW’s submission to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) on water pricing for 2022-2024. This was approved in June 2020 with savings for customers now and in the future.
The Victorian and Australian Governments’ $2 billion investment in modernising GMID irrigation infrastructure over the last decade has strengthened the GMID’s resilience by creating a more efficient delivery system. The Connections project was completed in October 2020 with the benefit of the irrigators share being provided to eligible delivery share holders in October 2021.
The transformation process has involved a channel-by-channel assessment covering all 5,780 kilometres of GMW’s channel and pipe network. Advanced data from this process is informing a new investment tool for GMW to make decisions about asset maintenance and adjustments to meet service requirements and customer demands.
I thank all who were involved in the intensive consultation and work to find cost savings and lower water prices, understand the impacts on services and bills and improve how GMW provides services to the community.
The intention behind this transformation process is for GMW’s business and services to continue improving beyond 2021, with plans and progress to be monitored through corporate reporting.
We look forward to supporting GMW’s continued initiatives for providing fair, affordable and efficient water services and maintaining the GMID with modern, efficient and well-operated infrastructure.
The Hon. Lisa Neville MP
Minister for Water
Page last updated: 11/11/21