The Australian Water Partnership is supporting the Australian Water Association (AWA), the Pacific Water and Wastewater Association, and HunterH2O on a new knowledge-sharing initiative.
The Australian Telewater Network is a web-based initiative aimed at providing effective and increased access to Australian technical advice, knowledge and tools in developing countries that will assist in their preparedness, response and recovery from COVID-19.
Telewater aims to share approaches and lessons in managing COVID-19 risks by Australian water utilities with water utilities in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and more broadly across the Indo-Pacific region.
AWA has partnered with the Cambodian Water Supply Association, the Vietnam Water Supply and Sewerage Association, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Water Association of Indonesia to support utility response and recovery approaches to COVID-19.
On this page you will find:
In collaboration with the Water Services Association of Australia and Dr Dan Deere from Water Futures, the Australian Water Association has produced practical guidance for keeping essential workers safe. The information sheets below are tailored to international water utilities.
Riverina Water have developed the following COVID-19 planned response tool to support their targeted response to different COVID-19 risk levels, varying from no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to a forced government shutdown.
Preparation, response and recovery FAQs
The following information and resources have been designed to give international utility representatives access to immediate technical advice by connecting them with Australian water and wastewater utility experts. The below information summarises key discussion threads and answers provided.
Do you have a question about water utility response and recovery approaches to COVID-19? Ask us!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also prepared a Water and COVID-19 FAQ page. For further information click here.
The Australian Water Association is organising practical guidance webinars with Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesian water utility representatives to share knowledge and experiences on preparing for, responding to and recovering from COVID-19.
Ozwater’20 Online session
As part of the Ozwater’20 Online conference, this session on Tuesday, 9 June will share experiences from several Australian water utilities on their preparation, response and recovery approaches to ensure the continuity of essential water services and the health and safety of water and wastewater utility workers.
It also presents ground-breaking research from Water Research Australia on their ColoSSoS Project – an innovative, and collaborative Australia-wide investigation that aims to integrate reliable results of sewage testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus with health data for COVID-19.
Challenges in Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia
In collaboration with its partner associations, AWA has undertaken surveys of water utilities in Australia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia to understand challenges, information needs and response approaches to COVID-19.
Summary of challenges
A summary of the key challenges identified in the surveys of water operators are summarised below.
- Network expansion constraints (labour / access to site / etc.)
- Employees remaining at home and not wanting to come to work, collect bills and/or interact with customers
- Ability for utility to repay existing loans and/or attract new finance
- Reduced ability of customers to pay utility bills on time
- Increased water demand through customers staying at home during a low water security / dry period
- Increased cost of water production
- Interruptions to supply chain (e.g. chemical shortage)
- Shortage of supply chain (chemicals, equipment, etc.)
- Shortage of PPE for staff
- Increased cost of water production (higher price of chemicals)
- Reduction in revenue
- Increased water consumption (people staying home and are required to have more frequent hand washing)
- Staff avoiding manual water meter reading, collecting bill payments and dealing with emergencies
- Maintaining connection rates and providing water to informal settlements
- Ability to freeze or reduce payment of water bills for certain customer groups and manage revenue loss
- Ability to undertake meter reading and account billing
- Implementing work-from-home arrangements
- Ability to manage risks during and after COVID-19
- Obtaining tariff subsidies from the local government to provide support to customers
Knowledge identified from Australian utilities
The knowledge products identified from Australian utilities include:
- Signage / symptoms charts
- Information notes for water operators
- Ergonomic guidance for home-based work
- Incident management guidance specific for COVID-19 incident
- Risk/restriction matrix
- COVID-19 response matrix
- Dedicated COVID-19 webpages of utilities
- Zoom and MS Teams Hygiene practices/advice
- COVID-19 OHS Handbook for staff
- Pandemic Response Plan
- Online Work Order
- Risk assessments for field-based work
- Business Continuity Plans
- Business Impact Assessments
- Organisational pandemic plan
- COVID response team (daily meetings, keeping staff informed)
- Staff communication plans
- Customer communication packages for contractors
- Managing supply chain risks
- Communicating across the workforce the utility’s priority
- Financial support packages, customer hardship approaches
- Incident Management Plan (power and/or network failures)
- Crisis management activation
- Science on the fate and inactivation of COVID-19
The outcomes from these surveys will help shape future activities, ensuring the supply of Australian knowledge meets the demand in overseas countries.
Further information and resources
The AWA has developed a number of practical resources and information to support Australian water utilities during COVID-19, linked below.
We welcome your contributions to share positive messages of how you are responding to COVID-19. If you have any practical experiences you’d like to share, get in touch with our International Manager, Paul Smith. Or share them with us on our social media channels.