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Momentum is building for a new National Water Initiative (NWI), with the release of the Productivity Commission’s (PC) National Water Reform 2020 Draft Report, which provides advice on the direction of future national water reform. 

Adam Lovell, Executive Director, WSAA, said, “It is pleasing to see that the draft report advances the conversation on considering all options for drinking water sources, including the use of purified recycled water, which is becoming commonplace across the globe.”

The report recognises that water is critical to the well-being of Australian communities, the economy and the environment.  

It also acknowledges that the urban water industry is already responding to the challenges of climate change and population growth.

“The Productivity Commission has laid out a compelling case for renewing and modernising the National Water Initiative (NWI) to assist meeting these future challenges in urban water,” Mr Lovell said.

“It is now incumbent on state and federal governments to get behind this draft report and maintain the momentum for a new National Water Initiative.”

WSAA supports the position of the PC that the overarching goal for the NWI needs to be updated to reference climate change and recognise the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in water resource management.

WSAA also supports the PC’s position that a renewed NWI should significantly enhance the urban water reform element to cover best-practice system planning, pricing and institutional arrangements, governance and regulation.

The draft report provides a comprehensive assessment of the progress of water reform and the challenges facing the urban water industry. It also recognises that the industry will need to continue to make significant investments in infrastructure to meet customer and community expectations for safe, reliable and affordable water and wastewater services as well as contributing to liveable communities and protecting the environment. 

In line with WSAA’s submission, which called for national action to remove roadblocks and further enable the industry to take a long-term approach to meeting customer needs, the draft report agrees and notes that “national principles may help the sector adjust and avoid imposing unnecessary costs on customers”.

WSAA looks forward to responding to the draft report through the submission process in the coming month.

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