ANGRY: Water carters Darryl Schofield, Ken Ford and Jim the driver. Trevor Veale
ANGRY: Water carters Darryl Schofield, Ken Ford and Jim the driver. Trevor Veale

Water carriers up in arms over council price hike

WATER carting businesses on the Coffs Coast have slammed a 66% increase to their water fees, saying it is hurting homeowners who are already disadvantaged.

Coffs Harbour City Council has told the region's water carters that new costs are in place for the 2015/16 financial year, with prices almost doubling to $4.01 per kilolitre.

Carters were previously paying $2.63 per kilolitre, but are now considered "high users" by the council and therefore placed into the higher pricing bracket.

Coffs Coast Water Cartage owner Darryl Schofield said residents in rural parts of the region that relied on tank water didn't deserve a price rise. He said the costs would have had to be passed on to customers.

"There are thousands of properties that aren't connected to town water and the average cost of each load is now going up $10-$20," he said.

"People on tank water are extremely careful about how they use water and to consider a person using tank water as a high user is just ridiculous."

With a lack of rain in recent months, Mr Schofield said the "unfair" changes meant people living off tank water would suffer.

"In a dry week we're doing around 40 or 50 loads and if it doesn't rain for a while we're struggling to keep up with demand," he said.

"Homes still have to have water - what choice do people have?"

A council spokeswoman said the changes reflected standing charges in urban consumer bills, which didn't apply to raw water users.

But in a group statement, the four water deliverers serving the Coffs Coast called on the council to reconsider the decision.

"We've absorbed yearly increases imposed on us by the council but with the water carters licence fee and registration fees also going up we're just not able to absorb these costs," they said.



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