Icon Water provides essential sewerage and water services to the Canberra community and it is important that we have the right water and sewerage infrastructure to match the expectations of our customers and the needs of a growing city.
Providing these services means that every time people turn on their tap, some of the best quality drinking water is available. Every time people flush their toilet, the waste is removed before being treated to a high standard. This high standard of treatment keeps our urban lakes and waterways clean, and serves to minimise our impact on downstream users. We also need to ensure that there is sufficient flow and pressure for all Canberrans to enjoy the water they need which includes adequate pressure needed to fight fires where this is necessary. Canberra has the largest inland sewage treatment plant in Australia. Continued investment in our sewerage infrastructure is a key part to ensuring Canberra’s water system continues to work well.
Paying for our water services
The costs of operating Canberra’s water and sewerage networks, and planning and building new infrastructure are met by the households and businesses of Canberra and Queanbeyan through their water and sewerage bills.
Icon Water does not set or change its water and sewerage prices. They are set by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).The ICRC’s most recent determination in 2013 was reviewed by an independent Panel who made a substitute decision on 5 May 2015. The next determination is due in 2018.
Icon Water prepares detailed submissions to the ICRC on the anticipated operating costs and capital investment requirements for the forthcoming period. Based on a review of the information provided by Icon Water and input through public consultation, the ICRC sets water and sewerage prices.
Getting the balance right
Through the review of water and sewerage prices, the ICRC seeks to balance the prices paid by customers and the need to continue to maintain and invest in the city’s water and sewerage infrastructure.
Water utilities across Australia have different pricing structures, some with higher and others with lower pricing than Icon Water. Below is a table of the panel estimates of the water utilities in Australia from the Industry Panel Review of the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission’s 2013 Price Direction.
For more information about Icon Water’s current water and sewerage prices please see our pricing FAQs
Our network is vast and complex
Our forward strategy focuses on four main areas: growth, renewal, efficiency and regulation, and our people.
Our forward strategy focuses on supporting population and infrastructure growth to ensure we can continue to enrich the lives of Canberrans. Land Development Agency is planning to release around 13,500 residential units across the ACT in the next four years. This is about 10% increase in the dwelling numbers.
One of our most important jobs is to make sure we are continually renewing the more than 3,200 kilometres of water pipes and over 3,200 kilometres of sewerage pipes that weave their way around the city. We know that our infrastructure is coming up for renewal when you look at new construction over the last 70 or so years. The growth of the water and sewer mains is linked to the growth of the ACT. Below we show the lengths of water reticulation added to the system for each year; the trend for the sewer system is similar. There was a large growth through the 1960s and 1970s.
Efficiency and Regulation
Efficiency related projects are those initiatives that serve to update our systems to allow for overall improvements; this may include safety processes such as ‘working with heights’ and improvements to buildings. Projects that are designed to assist with meeting regulations - noting that we have more than 70 that we need to comply with - include those such as upgrades to components of the sewer systems to comply with Environmental Licences and upgrades to meters and service lines.
Operating the water supply network is a 24 hour, seven day a week responsibility. In addition to the field crews working across Canberra to maintain the water and sewage pipes across the city, there are engineers and scientists operating the treatment plants and managing the flow of water around the city. Teams of people monitor the weather forecasts, planning Canberra’s response to long-term rainfall patterns as well as more immediate weather events such as floods and storms. Icon Water employs almost 400 Canberrans.