Advisory water board no 'handover of management'
GYMPIE Regional Council has released a statement refuting reports it plans to hand over management of its water and sewerage department to an autonomous board, and that the change in management of that department is a step towards privatisation.
Here is the statement:
"Gympie Regional Council's recent decisions around how it manages its water and sewerage are aimed at ensuring that residents will be able to turn the tap and push the button with confidence into the future.
"Last week's report that it had handed over the management of its water and sewerage was not correct.
"The ongoing management and operation of the over $200 million worth of infrastructure will remain fully under council control with council continuing to set policy and service standards.
"What council has recognised is that it needs to be more customer focussed and business orientated in how it delivers services to its residents.
"Gympie Regional Council provides 12,300 water connections and 11,650 sewerage connections to almost 30,000 residents across eight water treatment plants and seven sewage treatment plants. Council is fortunate to have dedicated and experienced field staff which ensure all goes smoothly.
"It is a highly technical operation which needs to meet prescribed public health and environmental standards 365 days a year.
"Following a review of its operations, the need to improve how it manages its business has been recognised and council will be implementing a range of reforms aimed at improving its reporting to the state government, improving its strategic planning and asset management practices, being more customer focussed, and focussing strongly on long term sustainability.
"What council has resolved is to develop terms of reference for an advisory board. The board will comprise industry experts and be charged with a peer review role and, where appropriate, make recommendations to council.
"It will operate in a similar way to council's Audit and Risk Committee and be another part of council's commitment to best practice.
"It is very easy to take for granted the water we get when we turn the tap on or the ability to flush the toilet. Enormous infrastructure behind the scenes enables this to happen and council is serious about its responsibilities to manage this infrastructure in a sustainable way and plan for the future.”