Save water or pay
By DAVID MOASE
SAVE water or you will pay.
That is the message contained in the new water supply pricing guidelines that will affect Coffs Harbour residents from July 1, 2006.
Under the new system, residential users will have more control over their total water bill due to the user pays emphasis of the guidelines.
According to Geoff Newton, the acting director of City Services, the guidelines provide a strong incentive for all water users to look at ways to conserve water.
"The State Government has indicated to all councils that if they fail to implement the new guidelines, funding for water and sewerage infrastructure projects will be put at risk," Mr Newton said.
"Failure to implement will also jeopardise a council's ability to seek additional rates.
"In the past, average residential users have cross-subsidised higher residential users, flats and the heavier water users in our community such as resorts and other water-reliant businesses.
"Approximately 60 per cent of our customers should receive a lower water bill as a result of the new system.
"Owners of blocks of flats will now pay a charge for each flat as well as for water used. Currently they only pay one charge plus water used."
Under the new regime, the service charge paid by Coffs Water customers will be halved but the cost per kilolitre will rise by 25 per cent.
Householders will benefit from the change if they don't use more than 240 kilolitres a year.
According to the council, the average house using 200 kilolitres a year would save about $30.
Bigger users will be adversely affected by the increase in the per kilolitre rate.
Strata title home units will receive similar benefits to houses while on vacant land there will be a 50 per cent saving.
In flats or similar, however, residents will face an average increase of 40 per cent. The increase will be bigger in large blocks of flats.
The effect on business properties will vary in line with the size of the meters installed and the volume of water used.
The council has decided to implement the guidelines over a five-year period, aiming to lessen the immediate impact of increased water bills on high users, flats and parts of the business community.
"These new guidelines will not increase council's revenue," Mr Newton said.
"They may result, however, in a level of volatility in council's income as water users put into practice various water conservation measures."
High water users will be contacted by the council during the next three months to make sure they understand the new guidelines and potential future costs.
A series of information sessions will be provided to key business groups.