Forecasting the demand for water services in fast-growing Melbourne

Forecasting the demand for water services in fast-growing Melbourne

Our client is a utility provider in regional Victoria. In a rapidly growing region, they use forecasts of population and dwelling growth to help determine the timing, size and location of future infrastructure investments. They needed a reliable, complete and easy-to-use data set that supported their analysis, and allowed them to understand the dynamics of growth.


The utility engaged .id to provide consistent long-run forecasts, specifically tailored to the small areas within the utility’s service region. A single-source data strategy, together with the functionality of the placemaker application, greatly increased the usability of their population projections.

The business challenge

The utility provides water, recycled water and sewage services to one of the fastest growing regions in Victoria. Already servicing over 150,000 people across 58,000 properties, rapid housing development is bringing more and more people to the region every year. Over the past decade the population has grown by close to 4% per annum.

In a market expanding at pace, accurately forecasting future system demand and the optimal timing, size and location of future network infrastructure investment becomes a major challenge. Precise and timely predictions of both population and dwelling growth are essential.

In that context, the utility were concerned that a ‘patchwork’ approach to data was holding them back. Their models relied on a variety of data sources, each of them drawing on different methodologies and geographical boundaries. With information from state and local government sources, as well as anecdotal information from developers and the community, painting a consistent picture of the future was a substantial challenge.

A patchwork of methodological methods also ends up hiding a variety of assumptions beneath the output data. This decreases the usefulness of the ultimate forecasts, and also impeded the utility’s ability to stress test their demand models themselves.

The .id solution

The utility turned to .id and the powerful .idplacemaker application. .idPlacemaker is a web-based platform that combines .id population forecasts with specific business data and state of the art visualisation technology.

In this way, the utility was able to replace a cumbersome data forecasting process with a single, easy-to-use resource.

Leveraging the SAFi (small area forecast information) dataset, .id were able to construct independent and consistent forecasts for dwelling and population growth, specifically matched to the utility’s service area.

The utility also drew on .id’s expert opinion to help understand the impact of in-fill development and how the Precinct Structure Plans (PSPs) would develop. This gave greater definition to the dwelling forecasts, and helped the utility’s analysts understand the dynamics at play.

Outcomes – data driven success

With .id, SAFi and the .idplacemaker application, the utility was able to construct an entirely new corporate resource – a set of high-quality, independent projections for both population and dwelling growth, specifically tailored to their market.

These forecasts offered unprecedented definition, detailing 355 small areas within the broader service region, and allowed the utility to push their forecast horizon out to 2036.

What’s more, with a single consistent source behind the data, and the functionality of the .idplacemaker application, the utility’s analysts were able to ‘get under the hood’ and understand for themselves where the top-line forecasts were coming from.

Ultimately, with a single data source and without the need for costly consultants to interpret the data for them, the utility was able to gain access to a much better and more useful product.

Using .id data, already well respected in the public service, further cemented the credibility of their analysis.

.id – the population experts

.id is a company of population experts – demographers, spatial analysts, urban planners, forecasters, census data and IT experts who build demographic information products for Australia & New Zealand.

We understand how cities, towns and regions are growing and changing. Name a place and we can tell you about its population’s past, present and future.

We use spatial data to tell this story in powerful web applications.

We share this knowledge with our clients so they can make confident decisions about when and where to provide services and invest in infrastructure.

Further reading

If you found this article interesting, you may also like to download our free e-books Three Growth Markets in Australia and Forecasting the Growth Suburbs of the Future.  Both provide .id’s views about the nature of population growth across Australia.

Download 3 growth markets in Australia eBook

Lailani - Population News

Lailani is responsible for content and strategy at .id, ensuring our clients’ needs are central to our enterprise and that we generously share our knowledge with the broadest audience. As a member of our Board, Lailani works with Ivan and Janet to set the strategic direction for the company. Her current focus is our Placemaker consulting business and she has worked with numerous clients across retail, finance, property, local government, education and not-for-profits to put together the best evidence-base for their spatial decision making. With degrees in Business Studies and Economics, she has worked in business development and marketing roles for IBM and SPSS in the UK, as well as a stint as a ranger in Kakadu National Park. Lailani is an Alexander Technique practitioner, surfer and traveller.

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