Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) paper Reforming Urban Water: A national pathway for change makes an important contribution to a sector that affects most Australians. IA’s paper is designed to make government’s stop and think about the case for, and benefits of, further reform in the urban water sector.
The case for further reform is clear; population growth, climate variability and change, ageing infrastructure and changing community expectations in relation to performance and environmental outcomes will drive future investment and costs. Modelling suggests that water and sewerage bills could double in real terms by 2040.
Aither provided input into this paper across a range of areas. Therefore, it should be no surprise that we support calls for further reform. For good reason too. The urban water sector provides essential water, sewerage, flood mitigation and stormwater services for the vast majority of Australians. The quality, reliability and cost of water infrastructure has a critical bearing on community wellbeing and economic prosperity.
Efficient investment and operation of new and existing infrastructure will be critical to ensure that the urban water sector continues to deliver high-quality services that are affordable. Achieving this requires sound planning, regulation (environmental, economic and health), governance and institutional arrangements.
We’re hoping this paper will be a catalyst for governments to reinvigorate urban water reform. The costs of inaction are likely to be far greater than action.
“If Australians want continued access to safe, reliable and affordable water in the future, we need to begin a staged approach to reforming the sector now – starting with a new national urban water reform plan.”e.