From the magazine

All utilities in one basket – a look at ActewAGL

Canberra became the site for the newly federated state of Australia in 1908 by a ballot in Parliament. The planned city covers an area of 814 square km. Essential infrastructure and services are provided to the population by ActewAGL.

The Australian Capital Territory is unique in the utilities industry as it is home to Australia’s first utility joint venture made up of two partnerships – ActewAGL Distribution and ActewAGL Retail.

In 1988 it was decided to incorporate all utility services under the one body, ACT Electricity and Water (ACTEW). In 1995 ACTEW was corporatised and in 2000 a joint venture was formed between ACTEW and AGL to form ActewAGL.

ACTEW Corporation owns Canberra’s two wastewater treatment plants, located at Fyshwick and on the lower reaches of the Molonglo River.

Water is stored in four reservoirs; the Corin, Bendora and Cotter dams on the Cotter River and the Googong Dam, located on the Queanbeyan River.

Assets and maintenance

Water and wastewater

ActewAGL operates and maintains 3,000 km of water mains, 15 km of water reuse systems and 3,059 km of wastewater mains in the region.

The water and wastewater networks are under contract to ACTEW Corporation.

Using Trenchless Technology, ActewAGL has worked on upgrading and rehabilitating Canberra’s sewer reticulation system. In 2008-09, the company used CCTV to assess the condition of approximately

67 km of sewer mains to determine whether rehabilitation work was required.

In 2009, Tenix Alliance signed a contract with ActewAGL to provide capital and maintenance works for ACTEW’s water and wastewater assets using a program alliance delivery model.

Under the contract, ActewAGL and Tenix work on delivering a significant part of ACTEW’s capital works program. The initial program is valued at $A39.7 million and will primarily focus on renewal and upgrades for pumping stations, sewer networks and treatment process units.

Water and sewerage infrastructure development for Uriarra Village will also be delivered under the alliance.

ActewAGL is refining a sewer network management strategy for implementation in coming years.

In March 2010, ActewAGL was the recipient of the Australian Water Association National Program Innovation Award for its Large Customer Demand Management project.

The project, which began as a trial in 2007, monitored water use through 50 large customer meters and identified that significant savings could be made by reducing leakage. This provided an opportunity to suggest to large customers how they might improve water use efficiency in their business.

Now monitoring water use through 100 large customer meters, savings of 600 megalitres per year have been achieved.

ActewAGL General Manager Water Division Asoka Wijeratne said “ActewAGL worked closely with ACTEW Corporation to develop this successful program, which demonstrates how businesses can save water and money by implementing efficient water use measures.”


The distribution partnership owns the 4,555.5 km of gas networks in the ACT, Queanbeyan, Bungendore and Nowra. Jemena networks maintains these networks under an asset management and services contract.

Maintenance is carried out in accordance with the preventative maintenance programs and the procedures for reactive maintenance.


The maintenance and asset program is dominated by works associated with the overhead network, asset security improvements, and the mitigate of risks related to safety and reliability.

Utility provider analysis

ActewAGL is one of many utilities and councils responsible for the provision of essential services to populations throughout Australasia. Subscribe to Trenchless Premium and this month you will receive an in-depth summary of how water authorities and councils operate. Subscribers will have the option to download regularly-updated contact details for the relevant infrastructure personnel. Subscribers will also have access to comprehensive information and analysis of authorities and councils, including asset overviews and the various asset management programs of utility providers and councils.

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