The Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board was established on 31 March, 1925 by An Act to provide for the water supply, sewerage and stormwater drainage of certain districts in and adjacent to the County of Cumberland, 1924 (Act No.50, 1924). The Board comprised a President appointed by the governor for a period of five years and seventeen members representing nine constituencies. The Act abolished the Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage. (1)
The Board was responsible for the conservation, preservation and distribution of water for domestic and other uses; the provision of reticulation and other means for the discharge of sewerage and its treatment and disposal; the construction, control and management of stormwater channels assigned to or vested in it; the administration and management of all properties from time to time vested in it; the operation and maintenance, and where necessary, the improvement and extension of all works from time to time vested in it; the construction of any new, additional or supplementary works of water supply, sewerage or drainage; and, the extension of its services to areas or districts not served with its mains, or sewers or drains.
The Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Amendment Act, 1935 (Act No. 4, 1935) reconstituted the Board to consist of a President and a Vice President appointed for five years, and five members, one from each of the five constituencies.
The Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Amendment Act, 1972 (Act No. 33, 1972) brought the Board directly under the control of the Minister for Public Works. The Board was reconstituted under the Act to consist of a President and a Vice President, three representatives of Local Government and three persons nominated by the Minister with knowledge or experience deemed by him to be appropriate for membership of the Board.
On 16 June 1987 (3), the Board was reconstituted as the Water Board under the Water Board Act, 1987 (Act No.141, 1987.) This Act placed more emphasis on allocating resources in ways consistent with environmental requirements, and meeting the needs of users in a commercial manner.
The Water Board Act, 1987, provided for a Board of up to seven members. Six of the members including the Chairman and the employee-elected representative, were part-time members appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Minister. The remaining member was the Managing Director, the full time chief executive of the organisation.(4)
"Besides providing water sewerage and draining services to its customers, the Board provided other services through its five Regional and 16 Business Offices. The services included account payments, processing pensioner rebates and payment assistance applications; approval of building plans and plumbing and drainage; issue of water meters; processing of developer services and conveyancing applications." (5)
In December 1989 the Clean Waterways Program was established to promote clean oceans, beaches, harbours, estuaries, rivers and waterways in the State by spending $7 billion over 20 years within the Water Board region. This sum was to fund work additional to the Board's ongoing work, and was funded by a Special Environment Levy (SEL) of $80 per annum per Board ratepayer for five years. The levy raised about $480 million annually (6).
The Water Board transferred to a more commercial basis in 1990-91, with the separation of the operating and policy planning units and the introduction of a commercial basis for accounting, including valuation of assets at replacement cost. This commercialisation process continued in 1992 with the establishment of three major business units: a core policy, planning and resourcing business, a core operations business and trading enterprise. In 1993 five semi-autonomous regions were established as the government moved further down the path towards corporatisation. (7)
The Water Board went under large scale transformative change over a period of 24 months with staffing levels substantially reduced, recasting of the organization's structure from (in some cases) fourteen levels between the chief executive and line workers to a maximum of seven, many central functions (for example skills training) were disbanded as part of a process of decentralisation and devolution, and a process of cultural change began. (8)
The Water Board was abolished by The Water Board (Corporatisation) Act, 1994 which established Sydney Water Corporation Limited as a successor agency, commencing on 1 January 1995. (9)
(1) NSW Government Gazette No.1, 2 January 1925.
(2) F.J. J. Henry, The Water Supply and Sewerage of Sydney, Halstead Press Pty Limited,1939 p.9.
(3) NSW Government Gazette No.115, 3 July 1987, p.3770.
(4) Water Board Annual Report, July 1994 to 31 December 1994, p.4.
(5) Ibid., p.2.
(6) Laffin, Martin & Painter, Martin, Reform and Reversal Lessons from the Coalition Government in New South Wales 1988-1995, MacMillan Education, Melbourne, 1995, p.266.
(7) Ibid., p.266.
(8) NSW Government Gazette (No.177), 23 December 1994.
(9) Dunphy, Dexter & Stace, Doug, Under New Management Australian Organizations in Transition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Sydney, 1992, p.84.
(1) NSW Government Gazette1924-1994.
(2) NSW Government Directory 1977-1995.
(3) F.J.J. Henry, The Water Supply and Sewerage of Sydney, Halstead Press Pty Limited,1939.
(4) Joint Volumes of the Parliamentary Papers of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, Sydney Government Printer, 1924-1980.
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