Strategic planning assurance

From 1 July 2022, the Regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities PDF, 1613.11 KB applies to local water utilities in regional NSW.

In 2021, we committed to ensuring that those local water utilities progressing their Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy would not be disadvantaged by the new strategic planning assurance framework. We continue to engage with all local water utilities that are currently undertaking an IWCM Strategy, including those funded under the Safe and Secure Water Program. We will work with utilities individually to develop a clear transition program through to 1 December. We will also publish additional guidance about strategic planning outcomes over the coming months.

Local water utilities can best meet the needs of their customers, and manage key risks, when their decisions and activities are based on effective, evidence-based strategic planning. Strategic planning is crucial to identifying and managing key risks to:

  • water security
  • water quality
  • the environment
  • assets and infrastructure
  • customers
  • the utility’s financial sustainability.

The department is committed that all local water utilities should do effective, evidence-based strategic planning. This will ensure utilities deliver safe, secure, accessible, and affordable water supply and sewerage services to customers and can manage keys risks now and into the future, and in the event of significant shocks. Local water utilities remain responsible for conducting strategic planning.

The department acknowledges it is not expressly empowered under legislation to regulate strategic planning or to enforce compliance. The department seeks to provide assurance of the effectiveness of strategic planning conducted by local water utilities to ensure that utilities address customer needs and key risk proactively. This also allows the department to meet its full suite of legislative responsibilities for local water utilities.

The department’s review of the effectiveness of strategic planning done by local water utilities is important to:

  • inform the department’s regulatory roles
  • inform the policy, strategy and funding roles of the department
  • ensure communities, decision-makers and other local water utility stakeholders have appropriate insight about the effectiveness of the utility’s strategic planning and ability to deliver safe, secure, accessible, and affordable water supply and sewerage services to customers and manage keys risks now and into the future, and in the event of significant shocks
  • enable the department to give adequate advice and support to local water utilities.

The Regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities PDF, 1613.11 KB provides an understanding of strategic planning assurance for local water utilities.