Unitywater has won the Queensland Risk Management Excellence Award for its program to minimise wet weather sewage overflows.

The Queensland Risk Management Excellence Award was presented to Unitywater at the LGAQ Conference in Cairns on Tuesday 22 October, to recognise the program’s innovation in risk reduction.

Unitywater began its comprehensive Sewage Overflow Abatement Program (SOAP) in late 2011, with a multi-faceted approach to tackle overflows in wet conditions.

The SOAP included significant upgrades to infrastructure, closed circuit television examination of the network and extensive inspections of properties using smoke testing to identify where rainwater may be getting into the sewage network instead of the stormwater network.

Unitywater CEO, George Theo, said risk management was an integral part of all Unitywater’s operations and he was pleased for the recognition by LGM Queensland for the work Unitywater staff have done in the community, resulting in significantly less sewage overflows for customers.

“We have worked with the community to help educate our customers on the causes of sewage overflows and the part they play in reducing them. The response has been fantastic and the results speak for themselves,” Mr Theo said.

“By the end of the year, inspections will have been carried out on more than 47,000 properties, with the majority of incorrect rainwater downpipe connections to the sewer found to date, now rectified.

“This is great news for our customers as we’re significantly reducing sewage overflows during wet weather in homes and in the environment.”

Unitywater invested $2.8 million in the SOAP in 2012/13 and will spend a further $5.8 million on the program this financial year.

The funds are in addition to Unitywater’s commitment to invest almost $535 million over the next five years to boost sewerage network capacity and upgrade ageing and poor performing infrastructure.

The LGM Queensland Risk Management Excellence Awards are presented annually to recognise excellence in risk management initiatives by LGM Queensland members.

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