We are partnering with key stakeholders and other regulators to design and conduct a review to identify any critical skills shortages in the sector and develop options to address these.
Councillor awareness and training
In response to feedback from the local water utility sector, we are developing a suite of materials to raise awareness of the risks in water management and the roles and responsibilities for councillors and other decision makers in regional NSW water utilities. The materials include an induction handbook, an induction webinar for newly elected councillors and case studies that highlight the roles decision makers and water utilities take in various scenarios in managing water services.
Councillor induction webinar
New and experienced councillors are encouraged to watch this webinar, which focuses on the importance of water services to regional communities, and role and responsibilities of councillors.
The webinar was recorded in April 2022 as part of the Office of Local Government’s Hit the Ground Running councillor induction webinar series.
Water: Make it your business
The Town Water Risk Reduction Program’s councillor induction webinar 'Water: Make it your business' is now available.
Role and responsibilities of councillors in regional NSW local water utilities
Mayors and councillors from regional NSW Council-owned local water utilities share their experiences and insights on the importance of water management.
Water is our business
Councillors share why water is an important part of Council’s business.
Water industry induction handbook for decision-makers
The induction handbook is a resource for decision makers operating in a regional Council-owned local water utility, especially for councillors in councils and county councils.
The handbook is designed to support councillors and water managers understand the services of their local water utility. By posing questions and considerations the handbook provides guidance on some of the decisions that may be needed. The Word version of the handbook can be edited to make it specific to your local water utility. The handbook was updated in January 2023 to reflect the new Regulatory and assurance framework for local water utilities.
Councils and local water utilities can also use our editable induction presentation template (PPTX, 5943.51 KB) when inducting new councillors.
Download your copy of the Water industry induction handbook for decision-makers.PDF Version (PDF, 813KB)
Download your copy of the Water industry induction handbook for decision-makers.Microsoft word (DOCX, 35KB)
We have developed 6 case studies with local councils from across NSW about managing local water utility incidents and events. These case studies provide insights into the risks and opportunities facing local water utility decision-makers.
- Managing discoloured water – Bathurst Regional Council (PDF. 470KB)
- Managing a contamination incident – Kempsey Shire Council (PDF. 244KB)
- Managing a chemical overdose incident – MidCoast Council (PDF. 239KB)
- Managing a recycled water cross contamination event – Port Macquarie-Hastings Council (PDF. 250KB)
- Managing coinciding events to manage water quality – Tenterfield Shire Council (PDF. 221KB)
- Managing a dam safety event – Upper Lachlan Shire Council (PDF. 290KB)
Water operations skills and training
Skilled and competent operators are vital to provide essential water and sewerage services in regional NSW and to managing drinking water quality. Currently there is a critical shortage of formally trained water operators in NSW. We understand there are about 200 operators in regional NSW seeking access to accredited operator training each year but who are unable to access training due to a lack of Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) and qualified trainers.
Workforce and training analysis
To better understand these shortages, the Town Water Risk Reduction Program commissioned an analysis of the NSW water operations workforce and its access to training. A summary report (PDF, 420.89 KB) of the analysis provides much-needed baseline data for use and further development by the local water utility and training sectors and government partners.
Water operations skills and training action plan
The Town Water Risk Reduction Program is working in partnership with Training Services NSW, the training sector, and the water utility sector to address both training supply and demand challenges.
Our water operations skills and training action plan aims to address these challenges to increase skills of existing operators, attract more operators into the sector and increase employment and jobs in regional NSW.Download the action plan (PDF. 506KB)
National approach to water operations training materials
Water utility workforce, skills and training shortages exist across Australia. A major barrier to RTOs supplying training in the water operations training market is the high cost of developing teaching, learning and assessment materials consistent with the National Water Training Package. The draft action plan includes an action to reduce this cost barrier by developing high quality training materials and making them available to all RTOs. In consultation with water and training sector stakeholders, we have set out a case for a national approach to water operations training materials (PDF, 615.91 KB) and are discussing it with state, territory and national governments to gain their support.
Skills and Training focus group
The Town Water Risk Reduction Program Skills and Training focus group meets regularly and provides a platform to exchange information, promote collaborations, and identify opportunities where the program can support and catalyse the training sector.
Members of our focus group are volunteers.
Projects and pilots underway
Water operator training needs assessment for Orana Water Utilities Alliance - Delivery May 2022
We are funding this pilot to support the 11 far west water utilities in the Orana Water Utilities Alliance to identify their training needs across their water business, including catchment or source water provision, water and wastewater treatment and all networks. This will enable each utility to identify the specialist skills and training needed for the utility to reliably provide essential water services to their communities.
The outcomes of the pilot will enable the Alliance to easily identify a training pathway for the critical skills shortages in the Far West region and engage a registered training provider to tailor a program that addresses their specific needs.
As an outcome of this pilot project, resources such as generic professional role descriptions and training and skills required for supervisors, operators, and relief operators, will be made available to all water utilities in regional NSW to assist with workforce planning.