Many Water Authorities throughout Australia have been through or are in the process of reforming their operations. For many, this means operating on a more commercial basis, with a progressively greater emphasis on the financial performance of their services. In many cases, these changes have led to a significant increase in the commercial performance of these businesses to the benefit of both the Water Authority and the broader community.

While recognizing commercial viability as a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development, given the nature of the urban water industry and its central importance in maintaining living standards and addressing environmental issues, progressive managers are beginning to ask the question: “Is our commercial performance the single or even best measure of “success” in the management of our water services?”

Addressing this question is one of the issues at the forefront of development of the water industry. The search for a more sustainable management framework has led to the development and promotion of the Triple Bottom Line. However, is this new framework a useable tool or are the reports “greenwash, public relations ploys without substance”?

Cardno MBK’s experience in the development of a Triple Bottom Line Reporting format for one of Queenslands most progressive and environmentally responsible Councils provides an insight into the current state of development of the Triple Bottom Line and provides a contribution toward the development of a practical framework.

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