Gold Coast Water is a directorate within the City of Gold Coast, charged with providing safe and reliable water and sewerage services to the Gold Coast. Working in cooperation with Seqwater, Gold Coast Water is focused on protecting the health and lifestyle of the community while building future prosperity and opportunities.
In performing its job Gold Coast Water (GCW) is committed to protecting the health and safety of their staff and the community; performing regulatory requirements; preventing unacceptable impacts on the environment and the community; and planning, developing, operating and maintaining their assets efficiently and effectively.
GCW has just under 235,000 customers across the Gold Coast and the directorate consists of more than 400 professional, technical and field based staff. GCW staff are dedicated to managing customer interactions, planning, constructing, operating and maintaining the essential infrastructure to service and sustain the community.
Their water and sewerage network and assets are worth more than $2.7billion and include:
- Four sewage treatment plants
- One advanced recycled water treatment plant at Pimpama
- 3,210 kilometres of sewer mains
- 529 sewerage pump stations
- 227,027 sewerage connections
- 3,168 kilometres of water mains
- 57 water pump stations
- 58 water supply reservoirs
- Five re-chlorination facilities
- 238,302 water connections.
GCW has owned and operated their assets since 2012, after a somewhat tumultuous period in the Queensland water industry. In July 2010, water service providers from the Gold Coast, Logan and Redland city councils were amalgamated under the Queensland State Government’s South East Queensland (SEQ) Water Reform to become a regional water retailer, the Southern SEQ Distributor-Retailer Authority, trading as Allconnex Water. The reform was initiated to improve the delivery of water services in SEQ and to make this rapidly growing region drought resilient.
In 2012, following extensive public pressure, the Queensland Government announced that local government would be given the option to withdraw from the distribution and retail entities. Gold Coast City Council opted to withdraw from Allconnex Water, ceasing operations on 1 July 2012. Gold Coast City Council once again became responsible for retail water and sewerage services on the Gold Coast with GCW steadily re-establishing themselves as a trusted and reliable water service provider.
The transition of water and sewerage services from Allconnex Water back to the City of Gold Coast has been the biggest change for the business in recent years. The transition involved a number of major changes to the business including restructuring, rebranding, changes to data and record management systems and business management processes.
A key part of management during this period of change has been regular communication with staff and customers and the allowance of adequate time for adjustment to changes. Clear business goals and documented processes have also assisted in driving improvements in an efficient manner.
Cutting edge technology
The biggest change for the business was the transfer of the existing maintenance and operations systems to a new city-wide SAP plant maintenance system with an integrated geospatial information system (ArcESRI) in mid-2014. GCW approached the SAP roll-out in a phased approach, using new and existing systems in parallel until all staff were trained in the new system and processes.
The City of Gold Coast is currently looking to source a single local government software platform to replace and consolidate a number of legacy applications across the City, and deliver a single point of truth for property related processes and information. The replacement system will enable a number of improvements such as customer self-service, electronic application lodgement, electronic service delivery and mobile computing for field officers.
It is expected to take just over a year to design and deploy the local government platform solution which will commence after a contract is awarded. Implementation is envisaged to occur in 2017.
Safety is paramount
City of Gold Coast (City) believes safety is everyone’s responsibility, and no task is more important than health and safety. GCW supports the City’s WHS Policy, which has recently been updated to promote Work safe and Home safe.
Underpinning this new Policy the City expects all workers and persons conducting work on behalf of the City to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, for other workers, and for members of the public by complying with the following:
- Wearing correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) applicable to the activity or task
- Operating only when ‘fit for work’
- Reporting immediately to their Manager or Supervisor any injuries, unsafe activities, hazards, near hits, incidents or anything that they believe to be dangerous
- Knowing the qualifications, training and licensing requirements of their role and being responsible for ensuring they only operate within their current competency and capability
- Starting every activity and task with hazard identification, risk assessment and implementation of appropriate controls
- Actively monitoring and managing risks and controls throughout all activities and tasks, and stopping work if it is unsafe
- Following all legislative health and safety requirements, relevant industry standards and codes of practice, and any reasonable instruction, policy or procedure that is given by the City relating to health and safety
- Ensuring attendance at scheduled safety training and applying their safety knowledge.
Concurrently all Managers and Supervisors have a responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy working environment and to identify and manage risks in the City’s workplace in accordance with the following:
- Hazard identification and management to protect workers and other persons against harm to their health, safety and welfare through the elimination or minimisation of work health and safety risks
- Organising, monitoring and updating the currency of worker health and safety competency through inductions, instruction, information and training
- Monitoring workplace conditions and worker performance, for adherence to all legislative health and safety requirements, relevant industry standards and codes of practice, and any reasonable instruction, policy or procedure that is given by the City relating to health and safety
- Engaging with workers to encourage open discussion on work health and safety issues with a commitment to improving safety performance through the conduct of Fair and Just Safety Behaviour Reviews
- Supporting implementation, adherence to and ongoing improvement of the City’s Work Health and Safety Management System through the conduct of Safe Act Observations
- Actively managing and investigating incidents and near hits, and implementing recommendations to improve safety procedures and performance
- Facilitating that workplaces, plant, materials and equipment are appropriate for their activity or task, and are maintained in a clean, tidy and safe condition
- Ensuring support and return to work for injured workers so they can get back to work as soon as possible.
Making water smarter
As well as providing essential water and sewerage services to the City of Gold Coast, GCW manages its own laboratory in collaboration with the Smart Water Research Centre, providing an integrated centre for excellence in water management. The collaboration offers water research, sampling and analytical testing, and consulting services at the one location.
Their laboratory has now joined the few Australian laboratories set up to test for Cryptosporidium and Giardia. These aquatic protozoan parasites can cause severe gastrointestinal illness when present in water consumed by humans. This poses a particularly serious health hazard to children, the sick and the elderly.
This intricate test is one of many commercial testing services now offered by the Smart Water Research Centre. In a first for South East Queensland, the Smart Water Research Centre has established a capability for undertaking direct toxicity assessments (or DTA). This is the first time a Queensland laboratory has established this capability operationally using local marine species. This has been established in conjunction with Gold Coast Water as part of their long term ocean release project. This project, which is the largest on Gold Coast Water’s capital works program is aimed at achieving a long term environmentally safe ocean release system for excess recycled water from the Gold Coast’s four sewage treatment plants. Currently around 20-25 per cent of recycled water is reused for irrigation of sporting field and golf courses. All excess recycled water is currently released at the Nerang River entrance (or seaway) on outgoing tides. Gold Coast Water is seeking to extend and promote further reuse around the city and last year released a widespread expression of interest in recycled water reuse. A number of new opportunities were identified for extension of the existing reuse system, however Gold Coast Water is always on the lookout for more innovative options to make use of this valuable resource. The ultimate long term ocean release project is expected to cost around $300 million. For further details on the test, or for other microbiological and chemical testing and consultative services, visit cityofgoldcoast.com.au/laboratoryservices.
The future for GCW
GCW will be a customer driven organisation, leading the industry in providing water and sewerage services for the long-term benefits of the community. We will lead the industry in planning for future demands, designing innovative solutions and be financially and environmentally sustainable and resilient. This will be challenging and will require re-think and re-engineering of many well established processes. More importantly, it will require commitment, adaptability and resilience.
GCW in three words?
GCW’s commitment can be summed up in four words!
Protecting – the health and safety of staff and the community.
Performing – to meet of all regulatory requirement.
Preventing – unacceptable impacts to the environment and the community.
Planning – to ensure decisions are prudent, efficient and effective.