The decision by TasWater to take decisive action to resolve issues surrounding unsafe drinking in 24 regional towns and communities provided TasWater with a communications challenge.

The public expects safe drinking water to simply flow from the tap. Despite the relatively small number of people impacted, the reality that 24 towns in 21st Century Tasmania did not have safe drinking water raised issues of commitment and performance by TasWater. Critics might either leverage this situation as a social justice issue, while others portray TasWater as using public funds to disproportionately benefit a very small percentage of the population.

TasWater needed a campaign that would engage both sides, and promote progress against the significant commitment without creating unrealistic expectations. Here’s what we created.

Our insight. We looked into the future, and made this big commitment a celebration. And above all, community engagement and education must be consistent, transparent and believable. We wanted the different audiences to be able to say the same, that “TasWater is doing the right thing”.

Our other objectives were to tell of the progress against commitment, to broaden understanding and discussion on water issues, and to build trust and support for TasWater.

What were the outcomes.

TasWater met their goal.

And in June 2019, TasWater’s 24 Glasses - which resulted in the removal of all public health alerts on drinking water, has been named Winner of the Operator & Service Provider Excellence award at the 2019 Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA).

TasWater CEO, Michael Brewster, said it is very pleasing to gain national recognition for what has been a very significant infrastructure development within Tasmania.

Not very long ago, Tasmanians didn’t pay for water. But then that changed.

Southern Water had the difficult task of introducing residential water meters and other pricing increases (for the ongoing water infrastructure) into a community that perceived water to be in abundant supply and also a ‘birthright’. Here's what we created.

Our creative insight. We took the approach of 'shopper docket' psychology, pointing out what savings people might make if they approached saving water, like they might for collecting points and other discounts. And who better to explain this than a friendly cartoon caricature of your very own water meter.

How did things change?

This campaign defused community angst and anger about the upcoming changes - to such a degree that employees of Southern Water reported feeling pride again. One employee even got a tattoo of our water meter mascot, ‘Merl’.

The changes went ahead with barely a ripple.

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