Today the Water Services Association of Australia released their publication on Economic Regulation of Urban Water, highlighting opportunities to improve efficiency in the water sector.
“This publication is an example of why Australia has become a world leader in water management, but demonstrates there remains room for improvement,” said Senator Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.
“It demonstrates our capacity and willingness to scrutinise current approaches to water management and, drawing from international experiences or from other areas of the economy, to ask where further improvements may be made.
“Across Australia, 81 utilities supply good quality drinking water to around 18.7 million Australians, every day, every year, including many of Australia's largest industrial and commercial enterprises.
“Alongside land, labour and energy, water is a key input cost for businesses and households. As a natural monopoly the efficient regulation of water can both boost productivity and ease cost of living pressures,” he said.
The Water Services Association of Australia’s publication reports on the benefits of independent regulation of urban water prices in four states and the Australian Capital Territory, delivering economic gains, environmental benefits and more responsive regulatory systems.
“Independent regulation of water utilities clearly stands as best practice, which should be applied across Australia,” Senator Birmingham said.
“Best practice regulation should be clearly independent of water utilities and their owners. It should be as light touch as possible, ensure it keeps prices as low as possible and help drive efficient future infrastructure decisions.
“Reforms to urban and rural water management have helped deliver the right signals to businesses and consumers to value water and to use it wisely.
“Future reforms can build on the legacy of the 2004 National Water Initiative, reduce future price pressures, boost economic output and encourage private sector investment in infrastructure.
“This report by the Water Services Association of Australia provides guidance to state and territory governments as the primary managers of the urban water sector that I hope they will heed,” he said.
A copy of Improving Economic Regulation of Urban Water is available at www.wsaa.asn.au.