Residents may pay more for water
By ALLAN McNEIL and REN LANZONnewsroom@gladstoneobserver.com.au
DUDGE and Isabel Barram are likely to see their water bills increase by about $1400 next year...and they are not alone.
In fact, all local residents will see an increase in the annual water bill, thanks to a recommendation by the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) in its report on the pricing practices of the Gladstone Area Water Board (GAWB).
Mt Larcom will be the worst-hit with residents such as Mr and Mrs Barram set to possibly pay more than $2000 a year for their water.
They currently pay about $600 a year.
At the moment, the water-wise residents collect rainwater in large drums to use on their gardens in an attempt to cut down on water costs.
But under the recommendations, they will need a lot more than drums to handle the increase.
Other Calliope Shire residents will pay an extra 16.6 per cent and Gladstone City water users costs will increase 23.3 per cent under the recommendations.
Calliope Shire Council has described the draft report as 'flawed'.
During its meeting last Friday, council described the QCA's reasoning for the changes as 'flawed' and, in respect to Mt Larcom 'irrational and unaffordable'.
Council chief executive officer Graeme Kanofski said 'every small community in the state would have to look at alternatives for water, because they won't be able to take water at that price'.
Later Mr Kanofski said 'we are being picked on ? they want to use this as a test case to see how they could do it elsewhere.'
GAWB chief executive Rod Hayes said the rise in water costs had come about due to changes in water use following the drought.
Mr Hayes said an earlier QCA report prior to the drought had estimated there would be more water for GAWB to sell now.
However regulations imposed on GAWB because of the drought reduced the amount of water they could sell each year. This combined with a reduction in the amount of water being used by customers meant a reduction in revenue for GAWB. Currently GAWB records a loss each year, but the proposed pricing changes would help it generate a profit in the future.
'As a result GAWB's revenues (profit) of around $32 million are now to be reached in 2009-2010 rather than 2004-05 as previously expected,' the draft report said.
Mr Hayes said the proposed changes would also mean the Gladstone region is middle of the road when compared to other regional areas.
'We are certainly not outrageously expensive, but we're not super cheap either,' Mr Hayes said.
At the moment the report is a draft and is open for public comment until February 11.
The Queensland Competition Authority would not comment in relation to how many public comments had been received so far.
Mt Larcom residents have been invited to a Mt Larcom Chamber of Commerce meeting in the QCWA Hall tomorrow from 7pm to discuss the matter.