Council ramps up lobbying on State water pricing

Redland City Council yesterday voted to ramp up its continued fight against the cost of bulk water charged by State Government.

The move comes as the Queensland Competition Authority calls for submissions on two preferred options for charging for bulk water through state-owned Seqwater from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2021.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council had a long history of challenging State-imposed increases to the cost of water supply.

“While Council is responsible for distributing water, many residents don’t realise we buy bulk water from Seqwater and have no control over this bulk water price,” Cr Williams said

In recent years, Redland ratepayers have endured the highest bulk water price increases in South East Queensland to achieve a ‘common’ bulk water price set by the State Government.

“Bulk water costs increased from $1.717 per kilolitre in 2013-14 to $ 2.561 per kilolitre in 2017-18 – this is an increase of more than 49% over four years.

“My fellow councillors and I voted to write Queensland Premier and Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy noting Council’s continued objection to historic bulk water increases and outlining Council’s preferred approach to any increases.

“The current Queensland Competition Authority draft report outlines two options for future water pricing, one where price increases are larger over the next two years, and a second option where price increases are smoothed over three years.

“Council will be making a full submission to the Queensland Competition Authority outlining our preference for a smoothed increase (option 2).

“While ultimately the decision on pricing will be made by the State, our residents expect us to challenge increases in bulk water costs and lobby to ensure they are receiving the fairest deal.

For the past three years, Council has taken the approach of partly offsetting the bulk water increases to ease the impact on our residents and held its water distribution and retail charges prices constant since 1 July 2015, but this can’t continue indefinitely.

“It is our firm belief that all future increases should not exceed the Consumer Price index (CPI) and we will take every opportunity to express this view to the State.”

Division 8 Councillor Tracey Huges added to the motion, asking Council to write to Seqwater requesting a policy for bulk water concealed leaks.

“There are instances where our residents can’t be reasonably expected to know there is a water leak on their property, such as a leak underground or underneath a building,” Cr Huges said.

“For many years Council has provided a remission on our portion of water consumption charges where there is a concealed leak, but there’s no remission available on the State Government’s bulk water charges.

“As the State charges makes up a large percentage of water consumption costs, we will be writing to them asking for a formalised policy that complements our own to ease the financial impact of bulk water charges where there is a proven concealed leak.”

View the Queensland Competition Authority’s Seqwater Bulk Water Price Review 2018 – 21 Final Report.

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