Higher charges, falling demand leads to water price rises
  • Wednesday 22 April 2009

A 21% hike in State Government bulk water charges, increased operating costs and additional capital-related costs will force the Sunshine Coast Council to charge more for water in coming months.

Council has accepted a recommendation to increase water charges in its 2009-2010 budget after an examination of cost and demand projections.

An analysis presented to Council today shows water charges will need to rise by at least 14% to ensure council is not left out of pocket.

Council has previously been directed to pass on the bulk water price hikes and allow for other increases in line with the local government cost index, estimated at 5.3%.

Mayor Bob Abbot said the Government’s water reforms had left Council with no choice but to impose higher charges on ratepayers.

“I have said since the Government announced plans to take over Council-owned water assets that we could all expect to pay more for water as a result,” Cr Abbot said.

“We don’t like having to charge more but there’s not much we can do when the Government is charging us more.”

Council has also had to allow for a potential loss of revenue due to falling demand when mid-level water restrictions are imposed from July 1.

The impact of higher costs and reduced demand will result in Sunshine Coast households paying $1.35 per kilolitre for the first 600 litres per day in 2009-2010 – up from $1.10 this year.

Second tier charges will also increase, although consumption price rises will not appear on rates notices until January 2010 because they are based on water usage during the previous six months.

Finance portfolio spokesman, Cr Chris Thompson, said Council had made every effort to keep its price rises to a minimum.

“We are trying to manage the impact of the bulk water price rise without having to impose an increase in general rates,” Cr Thompson said.

“We are all being forced to pay more due to the Government’s reforms and its $9 billion water grid.

“It’s just disappointing that after 111 years of successful water management, we’ve been put in this position and we’re no longer the masters of our own destiny.”