Benchmarking resilience: Organisational resilience in the Australian water industry

John Vargo, Jessica Sullivan, David Parsons


Under Sydney Water’s Climate Change Adaptation Program we set a goal to understanding our existing organisational, operational and cultural resilience to identify how well placed we currently are to deal with the impact of extreme event disruptions (bushfires, storms, floods, heatwaves etc) and our ability to “bounce back”. As part of this Sydney Water commissioned a set of benchmark case studies aimed at comparing our current level of organisational resilience and practice with other water utilities. The purpose of this project was to identify strengths and opportunities to improve our ability to adapt to future extreme climatic events that are likely to be more frequent and intense in the future and might compromise the organisation’s ability to deliver its core services.

The key objectives of this project were to:

  • Benchmark Sydney Water’s ability to cope with natural events.
  • Identify areas of improvement and recommend targeted actions to increase resilience to future extreme events.
  • Inform Sydney Water’s strategic approach to managing and planning for extreme natural hazard risks.

The utilities in this study were chosen based on their high reputation for resilience while covering a wide range of water company settings: large and small, urban and rural, with a range of ownership structures. They were also selected because they face a range of hazards, many with climate change implications.

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