GAWB responds to water price hike criticism
THE Gladstone Area Water Board have responded to criticism from the Gladstone Regional Council and the public to their water price hike announced earlier this week.
From 2021, Gladstone residents who use water from Awoonga will be charged $2.13 per kilolitre – a $0.30 or 16 per cent increase on its current price of $1.83.
GAWB Chief Executive Officer Darren Barlow said the council was offered two COVID-19 support packages in July 2020 which were not accepted.
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He said the proposed packages included an incremental price increase below the final outcome of the independent Queensland Competition Authority price review and represented about $2 million in possible cost savings for the council.
Mr Barlow said both GAWB proposals could have assisted the council to avoid or temporarily absorb any price increase and avoid the need to pass further costs onto the community.
“Our offer was a direct attempt to ease the pressures of COVID-19 which was in addition to the Queensland Government’s $300 million household relief package which gives Queensland households $200 off their utility bills,” Mr Barlow said.
“As council did not accept either of the offers made for temporary relief, GAWB implemented the bulk water prices arising from the QCA’s price review with minor amendments.
“GAWB is periodically reviewed by an independent regulator – the QCA – to ensure we operate prudently and efficiently, and our prices are appropriate.”
He said following an independent review process, the QCA found GAWB to be operating generally prudently and efficiently.
“GAWB does not set end-to-end water prices for residential consumers in the Gladstone region – this is the responsibility of council.”
Deputy Mayor Kahn Goodluck said the reason GAWB’s offers were not accepted by the council was they were not in-line with the decision to freeze all of council’s rates and charges.
“We made a request to GAWB if they could do the same, they came back with the two offers,” Cr Goodluck said.
“Neither one was in line with that request and council declined those offers and basically left it to GAWB to inform us as to what the price will be.”
Cr Goodluck said both offers presented still had considerable increases in price.
The price hike impacts residents who are connected to the Lake Awoonga Dam scheme, Cr Goodluck estimated this to be between 50,000 to 55,000 people.
“Ultimately irrespective of what ‘offer’ are made or not made or whether they’re ‘accepted’ or ‘not accepted’ – GAWB sets the rate for water and council and residents have to pay it,” Cr Goodluck said.