WATER SUPPLY AND SEWERAGE SERVICES SURVEY - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Water supply and use
Wastewater (including sewage) sources, treatment, supply and discharge
What do I do if the reporting period of my business/organisation is different to the one specified in the survey? (Q1)
This question allows you to specify the reporting period used for this business/organisation's financial information in the survey (revenue, expenditure and capital expenditure).
The reporting period for volume information however is strictly from 1 July YYYY to 30 June YYYY. If there is a different reporting period, or if the information only applies to part of this period, please include a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the survey.
How accurate do the figures need to be?
The ABS requires information that is as accurate as possible. The data you supply for your business/organisation is used to estimate information for all the businesses/organisations operating in your industry in Australia. The more accurate the figures you supply, the more accurate the total estimate will be. However, if for some items accurate data is not readily available, careful estimates will be accepted.
Reporting of all monetary values
Please report all monetary values in thousands of Australian dollars ($A'000). Where the value in the accounts of your business/organisation is not expressed in thousands of dollars, round to the nearest thousand dollars (e.g. actual figure is $798, rounded figure would be $1, representing $1,000).
Do I need to provide financial data and volume data?
Yes, this survey requires you to report both financial data and volume data. If survey components need to be completed by different people in your business/organisation, please pass the survey onto them. Note however that only one person should be in the electronic form at one time otherwise data may not be saved. If exact information is not recorded by your business/organisation please provide careful estimates.
Do I need to complete the ABS survey if I provide similar data to other government agencies?
Please call the free call (excluding mobile phones) phone number on the Contact Us page if your business/organisation reports to either Queensland Water Directorate (QWD), NSW Office of Water (NOW) or have reported via the Bureau of Meteorology's WSSS collection portal, or if you have any concerns regarding duplication of data.
What if volumes of water are not metered/measured?
ABS acknowledges that certain aspects of water supply and use may not be metered/measured. Where data is not metered/measured, we ask that you provide careful estimates. There are two questions (Q29 and Q37) with tick boxes where you can indicate that the volume is not metered and therefore the information provided is an estimate. If careful estimates have been supplied for other questions, please provide a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the survey.
What if I am unable to provide the required split by customer type? (Q18 & Q34)
The intent of these questions is to collect data based on the activities of your customers. Where this is not recorded on your systems, careful estimates are acceptable. If careful estimates have been supplied, please provide a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the form.
What if I think the survey is not applicable/relevant to me?
The survey has been created specifically to include all businesses/organisations identified as being involved in water supply and sewerage services activities. Please read the survey carefully and complete any parts of the form that are relevant to your business/organisation. If there has been no activity during the reference period, please provide a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the survey.
1 kilolitre (kL) = 1,000 litres (L)
1 megalitre (ML) = 1,000 kilolitres (kL)
1 gigalitre (GL) = 1,000 megalitres (ML)
What is the difference between revenue received from the 'Sale of bulk water' and 'Retail water supply' in (Q3)?
Sale of bulk water (Q3(a)) is the sale of water (potable, non-potable, recycled (reuse)) by one water supplier to another water supplier. For example, Company A has a licence to sell water and supplies water to Company B for a monetary value. Company B also has a licence to sell water, and is therefore another water supplier. Company A would report this transaction as 'Sale of bulk water'.
Please note, if revenue is reported in Sale of bulk water in Q3(a), a corresponding volume should be reported in Q15 (Volume of water supplied to other water suppliers).
Retail water supply (Q3(b)) is the sale of water (potable, non-potable, recycled (reuse)) by a water supplier to customers who are not water suppliers. These could be residential or non-residential customers who purchase water for their own use. For example. Company X has a licence to sell water and supplies water to Customer Y for a monetary value. Customer Y is an irrigator which uses the water to irrigate farm land. Company X would report this transaction as 'Retail water supply'.
Please note, if revenue is reported as Retail water supply in Q3(b), a corresponding volume should be reported in Q17 (Volume of water supplied to residential and non-residential customers).
What if I only have revenue totals and cannot easily report revenue separately for the different services (water supply, wastewater (including sewerage), and drainage and stormwater services) (Q3, Q5 & Q7)?
If these splits are not readily available, please provide careful estimates and provide a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the survey.
What do I include in Revenue received from government grants/subsidies for non-capital purposes (Q3(c), Q5(c) and Q7(c))?
These questions aim to capture revenue from government grants/subsidies for non-capital purposes only. This can include grants/subsidies for community service obligations (CSO) or similar, for example pensioner/senior concessions, remote community water services and rural water payments. It can also include grants/subsidies for projects/programs that satisfy community expectations such as flood operations, environmental flows, salinity programs and water savings programs.
What do I include in Other revenue from water supply, wastewater and drainage/stormwater services (Q3(d), Q5(d) or Q7(d))?
These questions aim to capture other types of revenue from sales of water supply and sewerage services only. This could include revenue from interest income, developer contributions, termination/cancellation fees or rent, leasing and hiring income.
What are wastewater (including sewerage) services (Q5)?
Wastewater (including sewerage) service is the removal, treatment and disposal of wastewater that is discharged into a sewerage or stormwater drainage system. Please note that if revenue is reported from the provision of wastewater in Q5, you should also report associated volumes in Q29(a) (and Q31 if wastewater was treated).
What are drainage and stormwater services (Q7)?
Drainage service is a water service which provides for the collection and removal of excess water through a regional network of surface and/or subsurface drains.
Stormwater service is the management of stormwater through a network of surface and/or subsurface drains to provide controlled release into receiving streams.
Please note, if revenue is reported from the provision of drainage and stormwater services in Q7, you should also report associated volumes of drainage water and stormwater in Q29.
What should I include in Purchases of bulk water from water suppliers (Q8(a))?
This question captures the cost of purchasing water from other water suppliers only. Other expenses such as running costs (rent, etc.) should NOT be included in this question, include in Q8(b).
This question includes such things as the cost of purchases of water from state or local water utilities, water corporations, water authorities, water boards or any business/organisation authorised to supply water and bulk water supplied via billing arrangements.
The cost of water that your business/organisation extracts directly from the environment under a licence to extract should NOT be included in this question, include in Q8(b).
Please note that if expenditure is reported for bulk water purchased or received from other water suppliers in Q8(a), you should also report associated volumes of bulk water in Q11.
How do I report Recycled (reuse) water expenses that cannot be easily separated (Q8(a))?
If unable to split out recycled (reuse) water supply, careful estimates are acceptable and provide a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the survey.
What should I include in Operation and maintenance expenditure (Q8(b))?
This question captures all of the operational and maintenance costs associated with providing water services, except for wages (payments to employees etc.).
This question can include operational and maintenance expenses related to dams, mains pumping and treatment facilities and infrastructures. Costs incurred for treating raw water, licence fees, permits and other administration fees are included, along with operating costs incurred in extracting water from the environment e.g. pumping costs, dam and pump repairs and maintenance, materials, chemicals, energy used, and water sampling, monitoring and analysis. Payments to other businesses/organisations (e.g. employment agencies) for staff and payments to contractors are also included.
Please note: Q8(b)(i) Water supply services should include expenditure on self-sourced water, which is water that this business/organisation actually extracts directly from the environment under a licence.
What if I am unable to separate my expenses into the differing service types i.e. water supply, wastewater (including sewerage) and drainage and stormwater (Q8(b))?
If unable to provide separate data for the different types of water services, please provide careful estimates and provide a comment to this effect in the comments section at the end of the survey.
What do I report in Other expenses (Q8(c))?
This question captures any other business expenses not related to the supply of water. This can include wages and salaries, overheads on wages and salaries, depreciation and amortisation and interest expenses.
How should I report capital expenditure?
Capital expenditure refers to the amount spent by a business/organisation in the current reporting period on the acquisition of non-current assets. It does not represent the value of asset holdings purchased prior to the current reporting period and does not include additions to inventories. It is reported under Capital expenditure including capitalised work done by own employees (Q9).
If your business/organisation hires contractors to carry out capital work, then these contractor payments should be included in the cost of the capital works.
What should I report in Q9(a), (b) & (c)?
These questions look to capture capital expenditure (including capitalised work done by own employees) for water services only. Capital expenditure for non-water services needs to be included in Q9(d).
What is capitalised work done by own employees?
Capitalised work done by own employees occurs when a business/organisation uses its own employees to add to the value of its assets by virtue of project work. Examples include:
- employees carrying out work to build a structure, such as an outbuilding;
- employees carrying out work to develop in-house software for monitoring water flows.
In these cases, the cost of the project - both wages and salaries paid to employees and materials used for the capital work - may be capitalised, so that the cost can be amortised over more than one reporting period.
Capitalised wages and salaries and purchases of materials must relate to capital works. If there are wages and salaries or purchases relating to the daily operations of your business/organisation, report these as an expense item (Q8).
Where do I report capital expenditure that may span across the entire business/organisation?
For capital expenditure that cannot be easily separated across differing services (water supply, wastewater (including sewerage) and drainage) of the organisation, such as capitalised computer software or capitalised vehicles/fleets should be reported under Capital expenditure - Other Q9(d), and specify the nature of the capital expenditure.
What should I report in Q11 Volume of bulk water purchased/received from other water suppliers?
This question captures only the volume of water received from other water suppliers. Please note you should only be reporting the amount of water actually obtained, not the amount which you are entitled to.
What do I do if there is insufficient space to list out all our water suppliers (Q11)?
Please check the box at the bottom of this question that says 'Please tick the box if you purchased or received bulk water from more than 10 water suppliers'. The ABS may contact you regarding the additional water suppliers.
Please note: If you have more than 10 water suppliers to report, the requested 'Total' in this question should include the total volume of bulk water purchased or received from other water suppliers, not just the sum of the 10 suppliers listed.
Should I report the same water supplier in Q11 and Q15 if I return water?
Should your business/organisation return water to its water supplier, please net it off the figure in Q11 (What was the volume of bulk water purchased or received from other water suppliers) and report the amount returned to the water supplier in Q15 (What was the volume of water supplied to other water suppliers). For example, Business A purchases 100 ML of water from Business B (water supplier). However, during the reporting period Business A does not need the full amount of water purchased from Business B, so returns 20 ML. In this situation, Business A would report 80 ML in Q11.
What should I include in Q13 Volume of self-sourced water?
This question captures the volume of water which has been self-sourced. Self-sourced water is water that your business/organisation actually extracts directly from the environment and has a licence to do so. Seawater used for desalination should also be included. Please note that you should only report the amount of water actually extracted, not the amount which you were entitled to extract.
Four splits have been requested and it would be expected that the majority of reporting would be in Q13(a), (b) and (c).
What is the difference between 'Inland surface water' and 'Groundwater'?
Inland surface waters are non-coastal above-ground open fresh or brackish water bodies (e.g. rivers, streams, lakes and pools, springs), including their littoral zones. Includes constructed inland freshwater, brackish or saline water bodies (such as dams, canals, ponds).
Groundwater is water that flows through earth materials (e.g. soil and rock) beneath the grounds surface. Examples of sources of groundwater are wells, aquifers and bores.
WATER SUPPLY AND USE
How should I report in the water supplier question (Q15)?
This question captures the volume of water supplied to other water suppliers. Self-sourced/extracted water which is then supplied to other water suppliers should also be included in this question.
Please note: If your business/organisation extracts and transports water on behalf of other water suppliers (which hold the licence for its extraction), you should not report this volume of water. For example, Business C (a water supplier) has an arrangement with Business D (also a water supplier) for Business D to extract and transport water on their behalf (i.e. on behalf of Business C which holds the licence to extract and sell the water). Business C pays Business D a fee for this arrangement. In this situation, Business D should not report the volume of water extracted and transported to Business C in this question. In this scenario, Business C should report the volume of water they engaged Business D to extract and transport on their behalf.
What do I do if there is insufficient space to list out all water suppliers we supply to (Q15)?
Please check the box at the bottom of this question that says 'Please tick the box if you supplied water to more than 10 water suppliers'. The ABS may contact you regarding the additional water suppliers.
Please note: If you have more than ten water suppliers to report, the requested 'Total' in this question should include the total volume of water supplied to other water suppliers, not just the sum of the ten suppliers listed.
What do I include in water supplied to customers (Q17)?
This question captures the volume of water supplied to customers that are not water suppliers. There is a split for (a) Domestic or residential and (b) Non-residential. Please note that the volume reported in Q17(b) non-residential should match the total volume reported in Q18(k).
How should I report in Q18 non-residential customers?
This question captures the volume of water supplied to non-residential customers split by activity type. You should use the main activity as indicated in the records of your business/organisation. If you do not have any indication of activity of your businesses/organisations non-residential customers, a careful estimate is acceptable. Please note that the total volume reported in Q18(k) should match the volume reported in Q17(b).
How should I report in Q19 property connections?
This question captures the number of property connections (both Residential (a), and Non-residential (b)) to which your business/organisation directly supplied water. Note that properties that may indirectly receive water from the provider are not to be included. A careful estimate is acceptable where exact information is not available.
How should I report in Q20 residential population size?
This question captures the size of the residential population to which your business/organisation supplied water. This should only include the population that was directly supplied. A careful estimate is acceptable where exact information is not available.
How should I report in Q21 water used by this business/organisation?
This question captures the volume of water used by your business/organisation. It includes water that is provided free of charge, sourced from other water suppliers and self-sourced. It excludes water losses. If your water usage was less than 0.5 megalitres, please leave the box blank.
Should evaporation be included in Q23 losses?
Only evaporation which has occurred within the water delivery infrastructure (e.g. evaporation from pipes) should be included (report in Real losses (Q23(b))). Evaporation from water storages (e.g. dams) should not be included.
How should I report Environmental flows?
Only environmental flows which have been released under a volumetric basis should be reported in Environmental flows (Q25). Any other basis of environmental flow releases (i.e. rules, other or unknown basis) should be excluded.
WASTEWATER (INCLUDING SEWAGE) SOURCES, TREATMENT, SUPPLY AND DISCHARGE
How do I report in Q29 volume of wastewater collected?
This question captures the volume and breakdown of wastewater (including sewage), stormwater and/or drainage water collected by your business/organisation.
How do I report wastewater in Q29 if it is not metered or measured?
Careful estimates are acceptable if volumes are not metered or measured. Please note that this question has tick boxes to note that this water is not metered. If you tick these boxes, you should still provide an estimate on the volume of water for each breakdown.
How do I report in Q33 volume of recycled (reuse) water supplied to customers?
This question captures the total volume of recycled (reuse) water supplied, broken down by customer type. Note that you are requested to separate water suppliers from domestic/residential and non-residential customers. If unable to provide a breakdown by customer type, please provide a careful estimate.
What do I report in Q34 volume of recycled (reuse) water supplied non-residential customers?
This question captures the volume of recycled (reuse) water supplied to non-residential customers split by activity type. Use the main activity as indicated in your own records. If you do not have any indication of activity of your businesses/organisations non-residential customers, a careful estimate is acceptable.
What do I report in Q35 volume of recycled (reuse) water used by this business/organisation?
This question captures the volume of recycled (reuse) water used by your business/organisation. It can include recycled (reuse) water that has been collected by your business/organisation or supplied to it by another supplier.
How do I report discharged water in Q37?
This question captures the volume of wastewater, stormwater and/or drainage discharged by location. Please note that this question has tick boxes for your business/organisation to note that this water is not metered. If you tick these boxes, you should still provide an estimate on the volume of water for each breakdown.
This section is a check of the water sources and recycled (reuse) water sources balance. If the sections do not balance a reason should be indicated in Q39 and Q41.
What do I report in Q38 Water sources and supply?
This question and its breakdown is a recap of figures already provided in the survey. It is used to check that reporting of total water sourced approximates to total water supplied. Note that this question excludes recycled (reuse) water which should be reported in Q40.
What do I report in Q39 Water sources and supply balance?
This question is important as it allows you to comment on differences between total water received and total water supplied.
What do I report in Q40 Recycled (reuse) water sources and supply?
This question and its breakdown is a recap of figures already provided in the survey. It is used to check that reporting of total recycled water supply approximates to total recycled water sourced.
What do I report in Q41 Recycled (reuse) water balance?
This question is important as it allows you to comment on differences between total recycled (reuse) water received and total recycled (reuse) water supplied.
Apparent losses - In reference to water losses, these are the non-physical losses that occur in the utility operations. This can be due to inaccuracies associated with meter reporting, theft, systematic data handling errors, etc.
Aquifer - A geologic formation which is capable of holding water and through which water can percolate. Aquifers are capable of yielding quantities of groundwater for economic activities. Water used to re-charge an aquifer should be reported in Q21(b) - volume of water used by this business/organisation - other.
Bulk water - Water (potable or non-potable) supplied by a water supplier to another water supplier.
Catchment - The area of land determined by topographic features within which rainfall will contribute to run-off at a particular point. The catchment for a major river and its tributaries is usually referred to as a basin.
Desalination - This is a process whereby salt is removed from water with a high salt content (usually seawater but sometimes other brackish water) to make it suitable for use (usually for consumption, but also for industrial purposes).
Diversion - Volume of water diverted from a stream or aquifer on a sustained basis to supply water for rural, urban and industrial usage. Include diversions undertaken by a water authority, private company or a group of individuals authorised to act as a water supply authority.
Distributed water - Water supplied to customers (who are not water suppliers).
Drainage services - A water service which provides for the collection and removal of excess water through a regional network of surface and/or subsurface drains.
Drainage water - Excess surface or subsurface water collected and conveyed from irrigated lands. May be recaptured and reused or conveyed for downstream demands.
Effluent reuse - Use of wastewater that may have been treated to some extent, and then used again without first being discharged to the environment.
Environmental allocation - Any river flow pattern provided with the intention of maintaining or improving river health.
Environmental flows - For the purpose of this survey environmental flows are defined to be water delivered (released) for environmental processes in accordance with a specific water plan prepared in conjunction with and/or approved by the appropriate environmental (resource) regulator. Only environmental flows which have been released on a volumetric basis need to be reported in Environmental flows (Q25). Any other basis of environmental flow release (i.e. rules, other or unknown basis) should be excluded.
Estuarine water/estuary - An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and ocean environments.
Flow accounts - General term used in environmental accounting for a framework which presents information on the physical flows of resources throughout the economy. Flow accounts published for water include supply and use tables.
Gigalitre - 1 billion litres or 1,000 megalitres.
Groundwater - Water that flows through earth materials (e.g. soil and rock) beneath the grounds surface. Examples of sources are wells, aquifers and bores.
Kilolitre - 1 thousand litres.
Licensed allocations - The maximum volume of water available to the holder of the licence to extract water.
Mains water - Water delivered under pressure usually via a system of underground pipes by a water supplier to a customer's service pipe.
Megalitre - 1 million litres or 1,000 kilolitres.
Non-potable water - Any water not safe to drink but could be used for irrigation, cooling towers, toilet flushing and related uses. Also see Raw water.
Point source discharge - A stationary source of water discharged to the environment, e.g. sewerage outfall point.
Potable water - Any raw or treated water that is safe for human consumption.
Primary treatment - The screening of solids from waste water allowing a proportion of solids and organic matter to settle and be removed by sedimentation tanks.
Raw water - Untreated water not for human consumption. Can also be referred to as non-potable water.
Real losses - In reference to water losses, these are the physical losses of water from the distribution system. This can include leakage, seepage, evaporation, bursts/overflows etc.
Recycled (reuse) water - Drainage, wastewater (including sewage) or stormwater that has been used again without first being discharged to the environment. It may also be treated and supplied to another user. Excludes water reused on-site, for example on-farm water reuse, or water constantly recycled within a manufacturing plant. Recycled water is also known as reuse water or effluent reuse.
Regulated discharge - Water discharged after use where that discharge does not match the natural flow regime of the receiving water body. For example, wastewater discharged into a river, ocean or land outfall by a sewerage service provider is considered a regulated discharge. Water discharged from a household is not considered to be a regulated discharge because it is usually discharged into a sewerage system.
Reticulated water - Reticulated water is piped/networked water (as opposed to well water).
River basin - The area drained by a stream and its tributaries where surface run-off collects. In an area of uncoordinated drainage, drainage patterns define a basin.
Rules basis - Volume of water required to achieve downstream flow and height requirements (e.g. water releases to maintain flow rates in river/creek at specific measuring points(s)) (not to be included in Q25).
Run-off - The amount of rainfall which actually reaches a storage or a stream.
Saline water - Water containing significant concentration of salts.
Secondary treatment - Utilises biological processes to oxidise the remaining organic matter dissolved or suspended within primary treated effluent.
Self-sourced water - Water extracted directly from rivers, lakes, groundwater and other water bodies for use.
Sewage - Waste received from residential, non-residential, trade waste and non-trade waste sources. This also includes any volumes collected in the sewerage system due to illegal connection inflow and infiltration to the sewerage system. Also see Wastewater.
Sewerage - Infrastructure used to remove sewage (wastewater).
Stormwater - Rainfall which is collected from run-off.
Stormwater services - Management of stormwater through a network of surface and/or subsurface drains to provide controlled release into receiving streams.
Surface water - Water flowing or held in streams, rivers and other wetlands in the landscape.
Tertiary treatment - The final cleaning process removing inorganic compounds such as nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater before it is reused or released to the environment.
Volumetric basis - A measure of environmental flow based on the volumetric rate or level of flow, e.g. 100 cubic metres of flow per second.
Volumetric rates - In reference to income received, volumetric rates are applied when clients pay by volume (as opposed to a fixed rate).
Wastewater - Any water that has been used once and cannot be used again without treatment, e.g. untreated effluent, sewage and trade waste.
Wastewater services - The removal, treatment and disposal of wastewater that is discharged into a sewerage or stormwater drainage system.
Water allocation - Allocation refers to the volume of water allocated for use either within or external to the surface water management area by way of licensing arrangement and formal entitlements to water.
Water entitlement - An ongoing right to an exclusive share of a water resource in accordance with a water management plan.
Water supplier - A business or organisation that provides a reticulated water supply (including desalinated water), irrigation water, recycled (reuse) water and/or bulk water supply service. Water suppliers may be government or private and often operate water storage, purification and supply services. They may also provide sewerage or drainage services.
Return to the Water Supply and Sewerage Services Survey Help Page