In the latest in our ongoing series of utility profiles, we take a look at City West Water, one of the three retail water businesses in Melbourne, providing drinking water, sewerage, trade waste and recycled water services to customers in Melbourne’s CBD, inner and western suburbs.
What does City West Water do, who does it service, how many staff does it have?
What we do
Our business exists because people, places and spaces need water and wastewater services. At the turn of a tap, or the press of a button, City West Water services are at work, safely delivering clean drinking water, and providing safe collection, treatment and disposal of wastewater.
Each year we supply around 110 gigalitres of drinking water to over 430,000 properties and transfer approximately 96 per cent of the sewage and trade waste to Melbourne Water’s Western Treatment Plant in Werribee.
The remaining four per cent is treated at our Altona Treatment Plant.
Where we fit
Our service area is home to the fastest growing population base across Victoria and we currently service both residential and non- residential customers within the municipalities of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melbourne (north of the Yarra River), Moonee Valley, Wyndham, Yarra and parts of Melton and Hume.
We purchase bulk water and sewerage services from our wholesaler, Melbourne Water, along with the other two metropolitan water retailers, South East Water and Yarra Valley Water.
Our 464 employees are a mirror to the wonderfully diverse community we serve. The differences among us provide opportunities to learn and grow and make our workplace vibrant and respectful. Our people are: agile – responsive to customer needs and a changing world; diverse – reflect the community we serve; and trusted – make evidence-driven judgements, exercised with integrity.
What is unique about City West Water’s service area?
Our service area:
- Has the fastest population growth in metropolitan Melbourne – set to increase from 1 million to 2.3 million over the next 50 years, of which established areas will absorb 68 per cent of the growth, and greenfield development will absorb 32 per cent of the growth
- Includes the Melbourne CBD – a critically important and nationally significant economic hub that caters to multinational companies, major hospitals and universities
- Is home to internationally renowned sporting venues
- Has the greatest concentration of industrial customers in Victoria and some of the largest single water users
- Has less rainfall than other parts of Melbourne – 500mm to 650mm in Melbourne’s west compared to 650mm to 1100mm in eastern and southeastern areas.
What is the biggest change that City West Water has faced in recent years?
The biggest change that we have faced in recent years is re-positioning ourselves to deliver the best possible service that takes account of the pressure on demand for services created by a growing population, and changes in the supply of water created by a changing climate.
We also aim to be more customer-focused – how can we deliver the services that our customers want, when they want it and how they want it?
Making sure that customers are at the centre of everything that we do. This means that we have begun implementing smarter, more efficient ways of delivering infrastructure, connecting new customers and managing our customer and asset information.
What’s coming up in the next 12 months for City West Water that the rest of the industry may not be aware of?
Putting our Customers First
We are currently developing a web portal that will allow our customers to access information about current and proposed field work or report a fault from the same portal.
Use of the portal will reduce customer waiting time in phone queues, reduce Operations Control Centre resource strain and improve accuracy of emergency fault diagnosis.
Customers will also have advanced notification of planned and unplanned water supply interruptions and other key water and sewerage field works. Users of the service will be offered an opportunity to respond to an interactive survey to further improve our interactions with our customer base.
Early in FY 2017/18 we will be making our submission to the Essential Services Commission on proposed service outcomes and prices that will prevail from July 2018 to June 2023.
This follows an extensive period of customer engagement via community meetings, deliberative forums, surveys and shopping centre pop ups, with the objective of gaining a full understanding of what it is that our customers expect from a water and wastewater services provider.
We will be using those insights to provide services that customers value.
Investing in the West
Greening the West
Greening the West is a regional initiative that aims to deliver positive health and social outcomes in the western suburbs of Melbourne through urban greening. It is driven by a steering committee consisting of 21 partners including local councils, community groups and government departments.
In the coming year, under the Greening the West banner, we will:
- Expand participation in a Trees for Schools initiative (in partnership with VicSuper and Environment Education Victoria) in an effort to increase canopy cover at schools in the west of Melbourne and broaden community understanding of the benefits of trees
- Work with major developers to pilot VicRoads’ proposed code of practice for street works that ensures landscape is a valued part of infrastructure decisions
- Identify additional projects to showcase Greening the West to the broader community
Our long term goal is to facilitate a doubling of the canopy cover in Melbourne’s inner-west by 2050.
In the coming year we will be looking to formalise a program to develop community water literacy targeting community members with English as an alternative language and continue to grow the Schools Water Efficiency Program within the west.
Respecting our Cultural Heritage
In 2014, City West Water formalised our commitment to Aboriginal people through the launch of our inaugural Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
The Reflect RAP committed our business to eleven actions with the aim of building relationships with local Aboriginal people and their communities both internally and externally, and raising awareness to ensure there is shared understanding of the importance of Aboriginal engagement and inclusion.
Since its establishment, there have been some significant developments within our business.
These include capturing baseline data on our employees’ current level of understanding around Aboriginal history, cultures and contributions; fostering a greater sense of awareness of Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country protocols; and actively encouraging all staff across the business to participate in and celebrate National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week.
Given the growth of the Aboriginal population within the regions we serve, we believe that we can make a significantly greater contribution towards reconciliation by adopting more comprehensive actions and commitments across our business.
Accordingly, we have developed an enhanced iteration of our RAP embedding a range of programs across the organisation that build stronger relationships, respect and opportunities with and for Aboriginal people and their communities.
In order to maximise the contributions we can make, our commitments are aligned with complementary developments in Victoria’s water industry, such as the launch of VicWater’s Water Industry Diversity Strategy which aims for 2.5 per cent of the water industry workforce to identify as Aboriginal by 2020.
How does City West Water value safety?
City West Water creates an environment for people to make good safety choices – we ‘live and breathe’ safety and wellbeing for our people.
We care about people, and don’t shy away from any difficult safety conversations – instead we approach them with sensitivity and respect. We work closely with our contractors on safety to ensure we are designing and delivering our services in a way that keeps them and our customers safe.
Going forward we will be raising the bar, looking at how we can do safety differently, innovating our approach, technology, and how we collaborate, so we continually improve our safety outcomes through being proactive.
What else the industry should know about City West Water
In December 2016, we launched our new business strategy, Customers First, benefiting communities. The strategy articulates what is important for our customers, and therefore City West Water, with a view out to 2030.
Providing focus and aligning the many components of our business ensures that we’re delivering a better service for our customers, in a way that puts them first.
Summing up what City West Water strives to be in three key messages
Affordable, reliable, easy to deal with. At City West Water, we put our customers first, to benefit the community. Our services are affordable, and we align our activities to meet customer expectations.
Our people are reliable and trustworthy, and we manage our resources in a way that recognises the need for long-term water security, particularly in the face of a changing climate and growing population.
Lastly, we are easy to deal with. We recognise the diversity of our customers and understand that multiple lines of communication are required to suit their needs.
We make ourselves available to ensure whatever the mode of communication, our customers can access the information they need and are supported by our friendly and courteous approach to customer interaction.