A helicopter lowers a destratification unit at the enlarged Cotter Dam. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Water utility ACTEW hopes to silence its critics with an independent review of the ''value for money'' of the Cotter Dam and Googong pipeline projects.
The corporation has also scrapped its bonus and incentive payments' scheme for senior staff after this year's executive pay controversy that cost then ACTEW chairman John Mackay his job and shook relations between the corporation and the government.
Plans to review the project and executive pay were announced on Monday by ACTEW acting chairman Michael Easson as he disclosed a report by leading accountancy firm PwC on the water company's corporate governance.
A change of name to Capital Water or ACT Water could be on the cards in an effort to avoid the confusion that abounds between ACTEW and its part-owned electricity retailing business ActewAGL.
There will be changes to another aspect of ACTEW's business - its community sponsorship program - with PwC recommending greater transparency and reporting requirements.
PwC's review gave the taxpayer-owned corporation a generally clean bill of health but did suggest changes to executive pay, sponsorships and financial management.
It identified 40 areas in which improvements could be made.
The utility has been under fire this year on a number of fronts, particularly for the controversy that erupted in March when it was revealed it had under-reported the $855,000 salary of managing director Mark Sullivan by almost $250,000.
In June, Fairfax Media reported that almost $1 million of Mr Sullivan's pay packet in the past three years had been made up of performance bonuses and incentives.
The saga led to Mr Mackay's resignation and sparked another government-ordered review, this one led by barrister Bruce Cohen.
It will examine the corporation's structure and a report is expected in June next year.
ACTEW has also been under attack from the ACT opposition for several years over the spiralling cost of the Cotter Dam enlargement project, which now stands at almost $410 million.
On Monday, there were more demands by the Canberra Liberals for more information on the costs of the dam.
Mr Easson responded by saying he and his colleagues believed an independent review of the Cotter project would ''put to rest'' the criticism.
''In the course of our building our water projects, there has been an explosion in labour costs, in demand, in Western Australia, in Queensland and in the cost of materials - so that's the context in which those projects should be looked at,'' the acting chairman said.
''We want an independent review. Let's put to rest some of the questioning that has occurred.''
Mr Easson said the PwC report would result in less confusion about sponsorships by ACTEW and ActewAGL and provide more clarity to groups on how to get sponsored.
''There's been a lack of clarity, which this report picks up, about about who is sponsoring what and what are the guidelines.
''If it's a matter of knowing someone that enables you to be sponsored, those sorts of issues originally led to this review,'' he said.
However, the Liberals were far from placated. Shadow Treasurer Brendan Smyth argued PwC's 40 recommendations supported his call for a performance audit of ACTEW.
''It is now up to ACTEW's two shareholders, Katy Gallagher and Andrew Barr, to ask the Auditor-General to conduct an independent performance audit of ACTEW,'' Mr Smyth said.