The true cost of water on tap

COFFS HARBOUR is blessed with one of the state’s cleanest water supplies and assured high rainfalls, yet residents are paying some of the highest water supply and sewerage charges in regional NSW.

NSW Water’s report card for country NSW shows the typical residential water and sewerage bill in Coffs Harbour is $1210 – double what a typical ratepayer in the Nambucca Valley is charged.

Yet while Coffs Harbour ratepayers are drinking some of the finest town water in the bush, councils such as Nambucca are still searching for long-term water options.

The Coffs Harbour City Council has indicated its water and sewerage charges reflect the city’s massive investment towards a secure water future and efficient waste water/effluent treatment.

“The work we’ve undertaken means that the Coffs Harbour region is way ahead of the vast majority of local authorities in Australia but, more importantly, our community is guaranteed access to a reliable water supply in the future,” Coffs Harbour Mayor Keith Rhoades said.

“Having a secure, reliable water supply is paramount for the well-being and growth of any Australian community. That is why we’ve invested so much time, energy and funding into this project,” Cr Rhoades said.

“Clearly, however, construction of vital infrastructure on this scale comes with a cost and our water and sewerage charges reflect the cost of providing these vital services for our community,” he said.

The report handed down by Acting NSW Water Commissioner Tracey Barton compares 93 local councils on cost to consumers, water quality, waste water recycling and complaints over water quality.

By comparison, Lismore and Port Macquarie also rated at the high end of water and sewerage charges, just on $1100, as did Clarence Valley ($1025) and Tweed Heads ($975).

Bellingen Council's typical charges on ratepayers came in at just under $1000.

The Murrumbidgee Council offered the cheapest average bill to ratepayers of $600 per year and Bourke the dearest at more than $2100.

The report rated Coffs Harbour highly on water quality and also on water consumption.

Ratepayers in the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Clarence Valley and Nambucca Valley local government areas typically use less than 200 kilolitres per property, whereas inland communities, with lower annual rainfall, used the most water.

Cr Rhoades said the council’s investment in water and sewerage included the $180 million joint Regional Water Supply Scheme with Clarence Valley Council.

He said this included construction of the 300,000 megalitre dam at Shannon Creek and 87km of underground pipeline linking the Nymboida River to the reservoir at South Grafton, the Shannon Creek storage near Coutts Crossing and Karangi Dam at Coffs.

“In addition, we have built the $96m Coffs Harbour Water Reclamation Plant, the $16m Woolgoolga Water Reclamation Plant and the $19m Deep Sea Release for excess reclaimed water,” Cr Rhoades said.

“In 2009, we also opened the $60m Water Filtration Plant at Karangi.

“We’ve invested in this infrastructure for the future growth and peace of mind of our community,” he said.

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