Increase in people needing rate help
The number of people needing help managing their Gippsland Water bills rose last financial year.
Acting managing director Angelo Saridis said there was a 60 per cent increase in the number of people suffering financial hardship that were assisted with paying their water and sewerage bills.
He said greater awareness and education of the community and Gippsland Water employees had led to the rise in assistance that he described as one of the organisation’s “successes for the year”.
Policies to specifically help customers and staff experiencing family violence were also introduced to provide a range of measures including affordable payment arrangements.
Price concessions to pensioners and not-forprofit organisations also rose, to more than $6 million for the year.
Mr Saridis said Gippsland Water had partnered with a number of bodies in the region to keep jobs and expenditure locally and its expenditure until is Local Jobs First policy rose to more than $9 million.
A regional agreement was signed to promote the inclusion of Aboriginal people in training and resource management and two Aborigines had been employed under traineeships.
Six Aboriginal cultural heritage management plans were completed in the region and two artefact salvages undertaken as part of works.
Mr Saridis added that the promotion of environmental benefits of tap water compared to bottled water continued through sponsorships of community activities and about 2000 students took part in education programs explaining the need for wise use of water.
He listed avoiding the need to impose water restrictions during the year as a result of improvements in water management and operations among performance highlights for Gippsland Water.
There was also significant progress on the $5 million second stage of the Warragul-Moe interconnecting pipeline, designs completed to upgrade the Drouin wastewater treatment plant and a start made on planning a new water main to supply the western side of Warragul and Drouin.