Qld water charges going up to pay off Labor's $7b grid
WATER charges will go up by about $49 a year in Queensland from July 1 as the Newman government battles to pay off billions of dollars worth of infrastructure.
The charge applies to average households using 200 kilolitres of water a year.
Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the average increase in the cost of bulk water per SEQ household was well below the $83 that would have been required without the intervention of his government.
"Bulk water revenue pays for dams, treatment plants and the Gold Coast Desalination Plant which provides critical water supply in emergencies," he said.
Mr McArdle said it was important to recognise that Seqwater did not make a profit and no returns were provided to the State.
"Even with this increase, the bulk water price will not cover the cost of producing it, due to the debt from the former government," he said.
"These new prices mean that bulk water will continue to be sold at a loss of more than $150 million this year, " he said.
"Reforms by the Newman Government could have reduced the bulk water price further, had the former Labor Government used more accurate water consumption forecasts in determining the bulk water price path."
Mr McArdle said the future price path, implemented by the former Bligh Government, included a $54 increase for 2013/2014, based on consumption forecasts of 200 litres per person per day.
"But with the actual consumption figures of around 155 litres per person per day (Seqwater Annual Report, 2012) the erroneous forecasts mean the real increase would have been $83."
Mr McArdle said to minimise any price increase, the Newman Government stopped construction of the Wyaralong Water Treatment Plant and associated pipelines, saving around $500 million.
"Sadly, SEQ households are paying for Labor's $7 billion debt from unbuilt dams, an unnecessary Recycled Water Treatment Plant and dams not connected to water supply," he said.
Mr McArdle said the same increase would apply to the 2014-15 financial year except for Somerset, which would have a lower increase as it would have reached the final SEQ-wide bulk water price path. All council areas will reach this final price by 2017-18.
"The Newman Government is committed to tackling the rising cost of living and has provided a one-off $80 rebate to approximately 1.1 million SEQ households, through a direct reduction on their water bill in early 2013," he said.
"In addition, SEQ's three bulk water entities were amalgamated and the Queensland Water Commission abolished in January.
"The decision has also been made to 'mothball' the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, but maintain the asset so it can be 'ramped up' should water storage levels fall below critical levels.
"This approach will produce immediate cost savings.
"The Government and Seqwater will continue to identify more ways to reduce bulk water supply costs in SEQ and work closely with the SEQ Council-owned water businesses to reduce the cost of delivering water and sewerage services."