Big water users will be slugged

By LEE McDOUGALL

WATER and its charges is giving Geoff Newton a mild headache.

As Coffs Harbour City Council's acting director of city services, Mr Newton has been given the unenviable position of administering the implementation of the council's new water pricing policy.

The State Government is requiring all councils to move to new user pays water pricing guidelines by July 1, 2006.

"The majority of residents will see a decrease in their water bill, unless they have a significantly high water usage," Mr Newton said.

"Some of the big commercial users, however, will see a 400 to 500 per cent increase."

The simplest way to describe the new water pricing policy is to think of a bucket. The bucket is currently filled by half service charge and half water use charge.

From July 1, 2006, the bucket will still only collect the same amount, but the service charge will represent only about one-third, with the water usage now comprising two-thirds.

"Under the new system, those who use the most water will pay more," Mr Newton said.

The service charge will be based on the size of your meter. For residential properties, this means a 20mm meter, while commercial and industrial users, such as the larger resorts and laundromats, have larger metres to cope with the greater flow of water used.

The larger the meter, the higher the service charge, with the premise being that larger meters require greater services.

For residential properties, a high water user is considered as those who use more than 365 kilolitres (kl) per year. Anything over that amount will be charged at 50 per cent more.

"The majority of residents will have a decrease in their water bill because their service charge will be halved," Mr Newton said.

"There are very few residents who consume more than 365kl a year. If they manage their water usage, then obviously there will be savings."

Those businesses and properties who have been deemed 'high users' and therefore more greatly impacted have been contacted by the council.

The council is implementing the new pricing policy over a five-year period in order to lessen the impact of increased water bills on high volume users.

Among those affected will be non-Strata unit owners who have previously been billed with a single service charge. From July 1, each unit will be charged a service fee. For informa- tion phone 6648 4444.



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