Singapore International Water Week/Leading Utilities of the World reflection

Photo caption: L-R: Jennifer Rebeiro, GWW Chief Information Officer; Maree Lang, GWW Managing Director

Reflection by Maree Lang, Managing Director, Greater Western Water

In our first year of operation, GWW has been inaugurated into the Leading Utilities of the World (LUOW) at Singapore International Water Week 2022.

LUOW is a network of the world’s top performing and most innovative water and wastewater utilities.

To achieve membership, GWW demonstrated outstanding achievement in the global water sector across three areas: data and analytics, sustainable water resource planning, and diversity and inclusion.

In data and analytics, we’ve invested in improved technologies that give us greater insights and have enabled us to make better decisions for our customers and organisation. With better accessibility, data is available sooner; it is visual, and easier to use and share. At the same time, we are building our cyber resilience through smart security solutions that protect our data, infrastructure and customers.

GWW is also embracing sustainability across our service area and beyond. Sustainable water resource planning is key to meeting the challenges of a population expected to double by 2050. This rapid population growth is particularly challenging for a region that is experiencing declining water availability, and high-heat vulnerability (according to the heat-vulnerability-index.) Alongside other Victorian water corporations, we codeveloped the Water for Life strategy, which outlines solutions to deliver high-quality water and wastewater services while transitioning to a climate-resilient future. Through whole-of-water-cycle modelling we are identifying sustainability opportunities, such as managing recycled water to provide fit-for-purpose water for agriculture and irrigation of recreational spaces, supporting communities to thrive.

In Singapore, I was particularly pleased to put gender diversity on the map. The water industry has traditionally been male dominated; however, at GWW we have made great strides in bringing women into leadership. In March 2022, women represented 67% of our Board; 56% of our Executive Leadership Team and 48% of leadership roles. This compares with Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency figures, which show that while women make up half of the employees in their 2020-21 dataset, they comprise only 33% of board members, 19% of CEOs and 32% of key management positions. GWW is leading from the top; delivering policies and strategies that embed diversity and inclusion; and setting targets, measuring performance and keeping a light on our progress.

In all, Singapore International Water Week was a great opportunity to be out and about again at an in-person event, talking, listening, sharing accomplishments and learning about the work being achieved across the world to meet our common challenges and discuss emerging themes for the water sector.

We are proud of our achievements and strongly aware that our work doesn’t stop here. As a LUOW member, we will continue to drive innovation and be ambitious. We look forward to being part of a global group of like-minded organisations and tapping into a wealth of knowledge and a sea of best practice.