SA Water's regulatory performance

SA Water


General information

SA Water is the monopoly service provider of drinking water and sewerage retail services to the majority of South Australian customers.

SA Water holds a water retail licence, issued under the Water Industry Act 2012, which authorises it to provide water and sewerage retail services to customers in South Australia. As a condition of its licence, SA Water is required to comply with the requirements of industry codes made by the Commission. The Commission is the economic regulator of the South Australian water industry.

The Commission is able (under statutory powers) to set binding consumer protection obligations, operational service standards and make determinations on revenue and pricing matters. To ensure that the quality and reliability of services valued by customers are being provided by SA Water, the

  • establishes consumer protection frameworks to promote the delivery of levels of service valued by consumers, and
  • keeps SA Water accountable by monitoring and reporting on its performance and being prepared to take enforcement action where necessary.

Pursuant to the Commission’s Water Retail Code for Major Retailers, SA Water must use its best endeavours to achieve the 22 service reliability targets relating to the following areas:

  • customer service 
  • connections
  • response (attendance), and
  • restoration.

The ‘best endeavours’ element of the targets reflect the fact that, in cases where actual performance falls short of the target, SA Water must satisfy the Commission that that it has used its best endeavours in its attempt to achieve the target.

The Commission monitors and reports on SA Water’s compliance with regulatory requirements and takes enforcement action in instances of non-compliance, if necessary.

Performance outcomes

Under the Commission’s Monitoring and Evaluating Performance Framework, South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water) is required to publicly report quarterly on its performance in meeting the annual service standards and provide annual performance self-assessments, supported by a system of verified trust and accountability around that reporting. 

When failure to meet a service standard occurs, the Commission will seek detailed information on the causal factors contributing to the underperformance and the systems, strategies and processes put in place to remediate deficiencies and improve consumer outcomes. Demonstrated improvement in operational performance, with a view to meeting targets, will favourably inform the Commission's end of year assessment of SA Water’s performance.

SA Water’s reports on its performance are available on SA Water’s website:

Information on SA Water’s performance can also be found in the National performance report: urban water utilities, which benchmarks and compares the pricing and service quality of Australian water utilities.

Performance summary for 2021-22

In 2021-22, SA Water met 20 out of the 22 service standard targets set by the Commission but did not meet the targets for the following service standards:

  • Sewer overflow clean-up timeliness – Adelaide Metropolitan, and
  • Sewer overflow clean-up timeliness – Regional.

For clean ups of sewer overflow events for Adelaide Metropolitan, SA Water had a performance of 97 percent against the target of 98 percent of sewer events attended by field crews within the target timeframes. This is the second year in a row that SA Water has failed to meet this target because in 2020-21, they had a performance of 96 percent.

For clean ups of sewer overflow events for Regional, SA Water had a performance of 98 percent against the target of 99 percent of sewer events attended by field crews within the target timeframes.

As SA Water did not meet the above service standard targets, the Commission recommends that SA Water review its ongoing performance in this area. The Commission will consider trends in performance, when it reviews SA Water’s achievement against service standards in 2022-23.


Historical Performance Outcomes

SA Water’s historical performance outcomes are available on the Commission’s website:


Compliance reviews

While the Commission assesses water entities performance against annual service standards and reliability standards each year, events may occur during the year that warrant special ad hoc reporting – referred to as Significant Performance Events.

The Commission considers the following criteria in determining whether a Significant Performance Event has occurred:

  • a significant number of customers are affected for a lengthy duration, or there is reason to believe that a significant number of customers may have been affected for a lengthy duration.
  • the event is likely to seriously impact on the licensed entity’s ability to meet one of more of its annual service standard(s) or reliability target(s).
  • the Commission needs to undertake a review to be confident that the licensed entity has complied with its obligations under the relevant industry Code(s).
  • there is strong stakeholder interest, or there is anticipated to be strong stakeholder interest.

The criteria recognise that a balance needs to be struck between reporting on every event and the resources it entails, and meeting stakeholder expectations on the provision of information in such situations.

The Commission has published the following significant event report, in respect of the performance of SA Water.