Further engagement on water assets following community feedback

Published on 25 August 2022

City of Onkaparinga has committed to further due diligence and engagement on the future of its water assets to address matters raised by the community.

Council has been investigating both divestment and the retention of these assets. This could mean a sale or lease of assets, joint or part ownership, joint or part operation, or a combination of approaches as well as retaining the assets in council ownership.

Elected members were set to decide whether to proceed to the next stage of the divestment process at the 23 August Council meeting.

Instead, Council cited the submissions of more than 600 people during the community engagement process and a petition, demonstrating the community’s desire for additional information to make a more informed decision on whether to divest.

Feedback provided during the June-July engagement included submissions from Friends of Willunga Basin, Willunga Recreation Ground Inc, Onkaparinga Food Security Collaborative, Blue Water Estate Committee, The Wild South, and Better Together Christies Downs (Clean Up Our Creek), as well as from a range of other groups and residents.

The submissions called for more information on the following: 

  • assets’ financial history
  • ownership options
  • future impacts to customer pricing and rates
  • environmental impacts and water security
  • demonstration that a fair and balanced review has been undertaken.

City of Onkaparinga Acting CEO Julia Grant said the question of whether to divest has long-term ramifications for residents across the city, so it’s a decision that requires careful consideration.

“The community has raised valid points that they need more information. This was outlined in the community engagement report as well as the community deputations during the Council meeting,” she said.

“The Council has listened to those voices, which means undertaking a further round of engagement addressing the specific concerns raised by the community.

“The aim of this process is to deliver the most efficient service outcome for customers while seeking an appropriate return for council and ratepayers, but we also need to address the lack of wastewater services in parts of our city. 

“This includes potential public health and environmental problems, while also looking at ways to increase the amount of recycled water available for the irrigation of parks, schools and sports grounds.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has provided feedback so far and thank everyone for their patience as we progress through this complex decision.

“We’ll now work through the key issues raised by the community as part of the next phase of stakeholder engagement.”

The outcomes will then come back for a decision in 2023 from the newly elected Council members following the November 2022 local government elections.