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Water price warning

Friday, 9th April, 2010

* John Williams MP * John Williams MP

IPART's proposed water and sewerage charges will cripple many residents in the Broken Hill, Menindee and Silverton communities, local MP John Williams has warned.

Mr Williams has rejected the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's (IPART) draft report determining Country Water prices from July 2010 for a three year period. "The draft is not good news for pensioners, families or low income earners," he said.

"IPART state that the annual water and sewerage bills will increase by almost eight per cent per year plus inflation and 9.5 per cent for pensioners, which will continue to be offset by the NSW Government's pensioner rebate scheme. "This is an absolutely disgraceful move; raising the pensioner's water costs before discounting the higher rate means ultimately they are much paying more.

Silverton residents will have a smaller increase of about three per cent per year. Mr Williams said that while residents will not have to pay the increases requested by Country Water, the rise proposed by IPART is going to be too much for some."Country Water stated it needed increases of 45 per cent a year to cover costs and suggested increases be between 10-20 per cent a year.

"Thankfully, IPART had found ways Country Water could reduce its operating costs over the three year period, by 12 per cent. "When the draft was released, the CEO of IPART Mr Jim Cox said the investigation found that there are a number of areas where the proposed amount of Country Water's capital expenditure was excessive and states the allocations that Country Water makes to its water and sewerage capital projects in Broken Hill 'are much higher than typically expected in the water industry'.

"While I can appreciate the reasons behind Country Water's situation, as major work is needed in the Broken Hill area, residents simply cannot afford to pay that much for water. "IPART may have set a lower rate than that suggested by Country Water, but families are already struggling to pay the bills as they arrive in the mail, and this is going to hurt many Broken Hill residents."

Mr Williams said the IPART review found Broken Hill residents used an average of 200 kilolitres of water per year, the second lowest in NSW."Broken Hill residents have not been subject to water restrictions but are still the second best in the State when it comes to saving water so I do not believe we should have to incur increases of almost 10 per cent, per annum. The IPART draft is open for comment until April 16.

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