Case Study

Western Water

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Western Water

Project Overview

Western Water

Key Services
Social Valuation | Data visualisation

Seeking to understand community value

As the water authority for one of the fastest growing regions of Victoria, Western Water(1) wanted to understand the additional community value it created for its 70,000 regional and metropolitan customers across Hume, Macedon Ranges, Melton, and Moorabool.

One of the key drivers for this project was the recognition that Western Water was operating at the nexus of a rapidly expanding metropolitan area and existing regional water customers. This unique operating environment enabled Western Water to adapt and respond to the emerging needs of its customers, creating new water solutions and ways of working in the pursuit of community value.

More than water

Think Impact helped Western Water understand and monetise the community value they create through their activities over a typical 12-month period. We found that Western Water created an estimated $46.9m of community value.

Community value was created in seven key domains: regional vitality, water stewardship, customer responsiveness, being a trusted institution, strategic influence, having an engaged and productive workforce, and industry leadership. The largest area of value occurred within the regional vitality domain (42 per cent of the total value), created by Western Water’s operation and investment in its local communities and local economy.

‘One of the strengths of having staff drawn from the locality is that they have the time for involvement in the local community on everything from school councils, to boards of NFPs, to health groups, to community groups’ – Western Water staff

The community value created by Western Water was experienced across seven stakeholder groups. Local businesses were the largest beneficiaries of this value, experiencing $17.4m (37 per cent of the total value), with 43 per cent of this value occurring from the procurement of goods and services from local suppliers.

Modelling community value

We drew upon publicly available information and stakeholder engagement with Western Water staff, following a six-stage process to model the potential community value created by Western Water. This process is illustrated below.

The social value modelling approach used to monetise the community value drew upon the internationally recognised methodology of Social Return on Investment (SROI) for understanding and measuring social, environmental and economic impacts. Although the value modelling did not strictly adhere to SROI methodologies it did leverage the following seven principles that underpin this approach:

  1. Involve stakeholders
  2. Understand what changes
  3. Value the things that matter
  4. Only include what is material
  5. Do not over claim
  6. Be transparent
  7. Verify the result

The highly visual report has provided Western Water with a detailed account of the value created for community, demonstrating the key outcomes in each of the seven key domains.

(1) An announcement was made in October 2020 that Western Water will merge with City West Water to create Greater Western Water. The integration is due to occur in July 2021. This case study reflects context and findings from the social modelling conducted in April 2020 for Western Water, prior to the merger.
‘The quantified assessment of the various categories of social value has given both Board Directors and senior staff a deep insight into the community value created by an “anchor” organisation such as ours in the local community’
Jeff Rigby, Managing Director of Western Water

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