How the next five years are shaping up

In the last 18 months, over 8,000 of you shared with us your ideas, dreams and what matters most to you, as part of our price submission 2023-28, our 5-yearly review of prices and services. 

We’ve considered what you told us carefully and used it to help shape our proposals. And here we share what we propose to invest in and do as a result.

So what’s it going to take to support our communities to thrive?  

You told us it’s about....increasing our investment in digital platforms and tools…making sure we consider affordability and good value… making sure we’re considering the future, and meeting our environmental responsibilities and supporting you in yours… and offering you choice in the service we provide you.  

In summary, our proposals represent increased investment to bring you more of what you told us is important to you, underpinned by good value and a commitment to keeping prices as low as possible. 

We’ve submitted our Price Submission 2023-28 to the Essential Services Commission (ESC)  ​

It outlines our charges, and the services and support we propose to deliver for the community you live in, from 2023-28

How did we go? 

You're invited by the ESC to have your say on our proposals for the next 5 years.

Our proposals: at a glance

1. Helping you keep your bills low

 

You told us:
  • You’d like more timely visibility of your water use.
  • Our bills could be clearer and easier to understand.
  • Affordability is on your mind. 
So we're:

1. Making it easier to keep track of your bills and avoid surprises

Replacing your regular analogue water meter, we propose to expand our fleet of digital meters right across our entire service region (over the next 5 years).  

Digital meters give you access to your real-time water usage information via mySouthEastWater, so you’re able to keep track of usage trends and spot anything that looks out-of-the-ordinary.

2. Making bills clearer and more transparent

We propose to remove one of our charges, the ‘sewage disposal charge’ from your household bill. 

It means that households will have more control over their bill, as the amount they pay will more closely reflect the water they use.

We also propose to look at how we can better support our culturally and linguistically diverse communities to support more customers with their understanding of our prices, services and how to save water. 

3. Keeping bills flat and prices low

We know times are tough for a number of our customers, and that can change for anyone depending on individual circumstances. Through the proposals we’ve developed, we’re committed to keeping affordability, and how our proposals affect your bill, front of mind.  

To do this we’ll look for efficiencies and keep costs of running our business down.  

It will mean we’re able to offer good value and keep bills flat and prices as low as possible.  

2. Protecting our environment

 

You told us:
  • It’s important that we minimise our impact on the environment as much as possible. 
  • You’d like support on how you can be water-wise.  
So we're:

1. Taking our responsibility seriously to protect the environment in what we do every day

We propose to upgrade our Lang Lang, Longwarry and Mt Martha water recycling plants. That includes increasing capacity and the amount of recycled water they can generate, replace ageing assets, and reduce the risk of environmental spills occurring.

We also propose to significantly increase our investment in our sewer network, to improve its reliability and make spills less likely.  

2. Helping you protect our precious resource and reduce your footprint

We also propose to invest more in water literacy, so we can share the water-wise message with more customers and support you in forming new water-saving habits.

Through our proposals to expand our digital meter network, we’ll also support more customers to save water, whether that’s you being able to identify leaks on your property, or by a spike we identify in your usage.

We also propose to encourage more customers to receive their bills electronically, rather than in paper format. 

3. An easier experience 

 

You told us: 

You’d like an easier experience with us and one that, whether by digital or traditional means, provides you with the choice in how it happens. 

So we:

Propose to invest more in our digital services and improve our customer service tools, processes and the data we collect about you so we better understand what you need and can improve our service to you.

That means: 

1. Improved and more self-serve options

We propose to look at ways to improve our self-serve channels (such as our website) and identify additional self-serve options, so you can more easily access what you need, when you need it. 

2. A more consistent experience

We propose to make sure each touchpoint we have with you is consistent and joined up, whether it’s a question about a bill payment, to let us know you’re moving house or even to make a formal complaint.  

That will help us build a better picture of who you are and what you need.

It’s a way we propose to improve our levels of service to you. 

4. More tailored support when you need it 

 

You told us:
  • You expect our services and charges to be fair and affordable.
  • You expect us to provide support to customers who really need it, when they need it. 
So we're:

1. Making it easier to get help if you need it

We propose to expand our hardship safety net so that more customers are eligible for help if they need it.

That includes investing more to support customers experiencing hardship (through a range of grants, allowances and credits).

We also propose to offer extra support to those whose debt has become difficult to manage. 

2. Reaching out to customers in advance of bills becoming an issue for them

Through our proposed investment in smart, digital tools, we’ll be able to warn customers of any out-of-the ordinary spikes of their water use.

It also means we’ll be able to use data to help identify customers whose bills has increased significantly since their last bill, and reach out and offer extra help to those who need it.

Through this, we’ll be able to reduce bill shock and their need for longer-term support. 

5. A more reliable service 

 

You told us: 
  • It’s critical the services we provide are safe and reliable.
  • We need to consider long-term water security in our decisions.
  • You’d like fewer disruptions, and, if they have to happen, you want to be more in control of how we manage the impact of them
So we're:

1. Investing in a safer, more reliable drinking water supply

We propose to increase our investment in water quality so we can continue to deliver better quality water and so we’re more-quickly able to get things back on track in the event of a storm or other disruption. 

2. Securing water supplies for the future

We propose to invest in new infrastructure across the southeast, to expand the supply of class A recycled water for use by business and agriculture, like:

  • Through the Pakenham Regional Scheme
  • Building new mains to service the green wedge in Dingley. 

3. Reducing the impact of disruptions

We propose to increase our investment to improve the reliability of our sewer network, to make failures less likely.

We also propose to expand the use of detectors in our systems so if failures do happen, we’ll detect them sooner.

And through our proposals to improve the channels and data we use to communicate with you, we’ll be able to notify you sooner in the event of a disruption, improving safety and reducing disruption for you.

What happens next?

We’re currently finalising our 2023-28 price submission to prepare to submit it to the Essential Services Commission (ESC) by 29 September 2022.

After that, keep an eye out for your opportunity to have your say on our proposals while they’re being considered by the ESC.

Once approved, our new prices and services will come into effect by 1 July 2023.