Frequently Asked Questions
About the Price Submission
- the service standards we will provide to our customers (water, wastewater and recycled water)
- capital and operating expenditure to deliver these services and meet regulatory obligations
- the prices that customers will pay in return.
What is a Price Submission?
Every five years, Barwon Water prepares a plan that proposes:
This plan – known as a price submission – is submitted to the Essential Services Commission for review and determination. The Essential Services Commission provide detailed guidance about what must be set out in a price submission, which includes a clear statement of the outcomes that will be delivered to customers.
Our customers and community are key to helping form these plans. We listen to our customers and community to ensure our five-year promise is the future our community wants.
How is a price submission developed?
A price submission reflects the ongoing investments we need to make in order to continue providing high quality, secure water services and outstanding customer and community value. We need to consider how we will service growth, comply with all of our statutory obligations and maintain or replace our assets over time.
Along with our forecast operating and capital costs, we also consider customer and community feedback on what we are doing well and how we could improve, inflation, regional growth rates and population, cost of living pressures (including the ongoing impact of the pandemic) and future challenges including water security.
In developing our next price submission, we are engaging a range of customers, including First Nations people, customers struggling with their circumstances, homeowners, renters and businesses, to better understand the services and outcomes that our region wants us to deliver.
We are also talking with key stakeholders across the region to understand their challenges.
We will provide all of this feedback to our diverse and highly-informed Customer and Environmental Advisory Committees. Their role will be to consider this broader feedback and provide guidance on how we should balance action and affordability over the next five years.
Following the Customer and Environmental Advisory Committees deliberation, our team will develop a draft price submission based on customer and community feedback. We will then share this with all customers and the broader community to check that we have heard your views correctly.
We will then finalise our price submission and provide it to the Essential Services Commission for their review.
How are water prices set?
The services we offer and the prices we charge in return are independently regulated by the Essential Services Commission.
The Essential Services Commission acts as an independent “umpire”, established by the Victorian Government, to regulate providers of essential services such water, gas and electricity so that their prices are fair and reasonable for consumers. Independent economic regulation is especially important for providers of water and sewerage services, like Barwon Water, because customers don’t have a choice about who provides these services to them – it is determined by geographical location.
The Essential Services Commission protects the interests of water customers by assessing and approving water prices, developing customer codes and guidelines, monitoring performance of water corporations and conducting inquiries, studies and reviews.
All Victorian water corporations, including Barwon Water, are required to develop and submit a price submission to the Essential Services Commission on a regular basis (usually, every five years). The Essential Services Commission reviews these submissions to determine water prices.
For more information on the ESC, please visit their website http://www.esc.vic.gov.au/
When will future prices and services be finalised?
The Essential Services Commission will review our price submission and undertake its own consultation before making a draft decision sometime between December 2022 and May 2023.
The Essential Services Commission will make its final determination on prices before the start of our next regulatory period, which starts on July 1, 2023.
Is the Essential Services Commission’s decision final?
Yes. The Essential Services Commission has the final say on prices that can be charged by all Victorian water businesses. Prices may vary according to the particular circumstances and needs of each water business. The process not only provides pricing certainty for customers over a regulated period, but benchmarks service levels for the future.
When does the 2023 Price Submission take effect?
The 2023 Price Submission will take effect from July 1, 2023 – meaning that new prices will come into place from July 1, 2023.
How can I obtain a copy of Barwon Water’s last Price Submission?
Our 2018 Price Submission was submitted to the Essential Services Commission and copies are available to view online at www.yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/2018pricesubmission, www.barwonwater.vic.gov.au and www.esc.org.au.
About the engagement
- the service standards we provide to our customers,
- our capital and operational spending to deliver these services and meet our regulatory obligations, and
- the prices our customers will pay in return
How can I have a say on the new prices?
Our customers and community can help shape our next five year customer promise, and associated prices. We have an online survey open between 1 July and 29 July to check-in on our draft Price Submission. This draft has been developed after substantial ongoing feedback from customers since 2018.
Our Your Say page will have all the latest information and how you can have your say – through both short and long surveys, as well as opportunities for conversations and targeted discussions.
You can provide feedback by completing a survey or making a submission on our Your Say website. If you do not have internet access, you can telephone Barwon Water and we will post you a survey. We will also accept written or typed submissions.
Following these deliberations, Barwon Water will finalise our submission which we will submit to the Essential Services Commission September 2022.
Who is the Customer and Environmental Advisory Committee and what is their role?
Since it was first convened in 1996, our Customer Advisory Committee has been helping us respond to customer needs, involve our community in project planning, understand issues raised by interest groups and access valuable community knowledge. This committee comprises of interested community members from various backgrounds, meaning that it represents a diverse range of skills, age, gender, cultural, business, social services and heritage.
In 2000 the Environmental Advisory Committee was established and has been advising us on local environmental issues and policy. This committee comprises of representatives from local environmental groups across our region.
We’re committed to open and transparent consultation with our customers and community. As part of this commitment, we established dedicated advisory committees which consist of a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds to assist with our ongoing planning and projects.
This group has been instrumental in reshaping our business around the delivery of four key customer outcomes based on what we’ve been seeing and hearing from our community. They will continue to advise us on strategic direction for the price submission and will consider
At the end of the process, the panel presented to Barwon Water’s Board a set of outcomes and recommendations on future prices and services.
How are the Customer and Environmental Advisory Committee groups formed?
We conduct an Expression of Interest process for community membership approximately every three years and undertake a fair assessment to ensure that membership of the Committee continues to be representative of our customer base and environmental groups.
These advisory committees are a diverse, highly-informed group of at least 10 members each, who help assess Barwon Water’s operations and advocate for the community and environment.
What happens after the community provide feedback?
Barwon Water will collate all the feedback during June, 2022.
Throughout July and August, we will test our draft price submission with customers and community to ensure we haven’t missed anything.
Taking into consideration all feedback, our Board of Directors will consider a draft submission for approval in mid-September.
The submission will then be submitted to the Essential Services Commission on September 30, 2022, for its review and determination.
What will my feedback influence?
Our customers help inform the level of service we deliver, their willingness to pay for those services, and how we measure our performance throughout the pricing period.
Your valuable feedback will help shape our next five years (between 2023 and 2028) in our Price Submission, a business plan, which outlines:
Where do I find more information on New Customer Contribution (developers), trade waste and Class C recycled water?
We are in the process of consulting customers who receive these services.
You can view our current services on our main website, linked below:
If you have a specific question, you can contact our project team on 1300 656 007.
About our customer and community outcomes
- A reliable, secure water future for our region
- Timely, innovative services for our customers
- A healthier environment for all
- Deeper knowledge and partnerships with our community
- Affordability for all our customers
- Safe, secure, sustainable water
- Innovative, reliable services
- Healthier environment
- Trust, affordability and value
- Safe, secure, sustainable water
- Innovative, reliable services
- Healthier environment
- Trust, affordability and value
How were these outcomes developed?
Back in 2017, we developed an ambitious strategy to enable regional prosperity through the provision of high quality, affordable, secure water services and outstanding customer and community value.
We also made a five year promise to our customers about the actions we would undertake, the outcomes we would deliver and the prices we would charge until 2023, as we worked to implement our ambitious strategy.
In 2017 our customers and community told us they wanted us to deliver the following five outcomes:
Since then, our customers and community have told us that they expect us to collaborate and partner with them across all aspects of our business as we continue to plan for our future. Through our ongoing engagement, we’ve learnt that partnerships should not be a separate outcome but rather a key part of how we deliver all our projects and services.
As such, we have revised our customer and community outcomes for 2023 to four outcomes:
What are our 2023 customer and community outcomes?
Through ongoing engagement over the past five years, we have revised the customer and community outcomes to reflect what we have been hearing. The following outlines our four outcome commitments:
What does safe, secure, sustainable water mean?
Our outcome one commitment is to provide a safe, secure, sustainable water future. This means that as we face a hotter drier climate, we will support our growing region to be prosperous and sustainable, by securing enough water for all of our needs. We will strengthen water efficiency and gradually shift to climate resilient water sources.
What does innovative, reliable services mean?
Our outcome two commitment is to continue to improve our services and community experience. This means that by listening to our customers and community, being forward thinking and technologically advanced we will be innovative, continually improving, inclusive, caring and easy to deal with.
What does healthier environment mean?
Our outcome three commitment is to protect and enhance our natural environment. This means that we will apply a caring for country approach to our land and waterways in partnerships with our Traditional Owners, other agencies and community members. We will strive for zero emissions and generate useful products from what we used to call “waste”.
What does trust, affordability and value mean?
Our outcome four commitment is to deliver value to our community and support our customers’ needs. This means that we will seek to understand the diverse needs and values of our customers and community and aim to be a valued and trusted leader; contributing positively to our region. We will actively support customers, keep bills affordable and resolve issues fairly.