Unitywater unveiled
  • Friday 29 January 2010

Today ‘Unitywater’ was announced as the name of the business that will provide the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay council regions with water supply and sewerage services from 1 July this year.

Former Brisbane Lord Mayor, Jim Soorley, was also announced as Unitywater’s inaugural Chairman.

Mr Soorley will help set the strategic direction for Unitywater and support Chief Executive Officer, Jon Black, to ensure a seamless separation of the water supply and sewerage services from both councils.

Mayors for the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Regional Councils, Bob Abbot and Allan Sutherland, made the announcement after agreeing to Mr Soorley’s appointment at a final meeting of the councils’ interim Establishment Committee.

The Mayors said today’s announcement marked a major milestone in the two councils’ collaborative response to the water reform model announced by the State Government on 18 July 2009.

“Our councils were required by the State Government to establish an independent water supply and sewerage services business by merging and functionally separating our existing businesses from council by 1 July 2010,” Cr Abbot said.

“Since July last year our councils have been working together to make this happen. Jon Black was appointed as CEO in November 2009 and we have been guiding the formation of the new business through the Establishment Committee.”

Mayor Sutherland added: “Today’s announcement of the Chairman means the two councils hand over the ongoing, day-to-day decision-making required to set up Unitywater and in due course, we will assume our new role in the water business as shareholders.

“Jim Soorley’s knowledge and experience in South East Queensland local government and business gives us the confidence that Unitywater will continue to deliver a high quality of service, while leveraging its economies of scale to deliver efficient and effective water supply and sewerage services solutions going forward.

“We look forward to a collaborative and open relationship that brings together the best of all three organisations to provide great customer outcomes.”

Unitywater will be one of three water supply and sewerage services distribution and retail businesses established in South East Queensland under the State Government’s water reform measures.

It will be independently operated and governed by a board, but jointly owned by the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay Regional Councils as shareholders.

Mr Black said he was looking forward to making the most of the opportunities the reform model presented.

“The water reform process throughout South East Queensland will consolidate water supply and sewerage services businesses, and responds to the region’s extraordinary growth, including the convergence of once separated communities,” he said.

“Ten businesses with different policies, strategies and capital programs will now become three, of which Unitywater is one.

“We now have tangible opportunities to leverage the geographic benefits of no internal boundaries, technology improvements and procurement economies of scale for the benefit of our customers.”

The establishment of Unitywater will bring together the existing infrastructure and technical expertise of Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast councils to maintain consistent and reliable water supply and sewerage services.

Until 30 June this year, these services will continue to be provided by the respective councils and charged through rates notices.

From July 1, property owners of the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions will receive a separate water and sewerage account from Unitywater, and these charges will no longer appear on council rates notices.

Mr Black said his focus as CEO would be to meet customers’ expectations for reliable, responsive and quality service.

“Customers should expect no change to the services they receive. Water supply and sewerage services will continue to be provided by the same people, as existing staff in the two council water businesses will transfer to Unitywater,” he said.

“Our goal between now and 1 July is to spread the word to our customers about who we are and what we are going to be doing, so they have a high degree of comfort knowing Unitywater can be counted on to manage their immediate and future water supply and sewerage services needs.

“The unveiling of our name and brand today will help with the familiarisation process. Customers can expect to see Unitywater’s brand across the region in the coming months as we take the opportunity to communicate the changes to the region, and how they can find out more information.”

Unitywater will formally begin operations on 1 July 2010 and provide services to almost 262,000 customers across 5,138 square kilometres, with an expected operating budget of approximately $320 million and a capital works program of about $220 million.