Low flow not the go for North East Water

Executive manager of customer and community relations at North East Water, Ann Telford, with a water meter. The end can be fitted with a restrictor. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

Executive manager of customer and community relations at North East Water, Ann Telford, with a water meter. The end can be fitted with a restrictor. Picture: PETER MERKESTEYN

THE widespread use of water flow restrictors is unlikely to be rolled out for Wodonga residents over unpaid bills.

North East Water has indicated it will probably not follow Albury Council’s decision to clamp down severely on users who refuse to pay.

Albury is desperate to recoup more than $1 million in unpaid bills.

From next month its staff will start installing water flow restrictors on properties where there is a significant amount owing.

The devices will restrict water flow to just two litres a minute.

But North East Water spokeswoman Ann Telford said water flow restrictors were only used sparingly.

Ms Telford, the organisation’s executive manager for customer and community, said North East Water understood that some customers faced financial difficulties.

“We offer several ways to help manage their account payments, including flexible payment plans,” she said.

Ms Telford said the amount of North East Water’s outstanding water accounts was less than 2 per cent of its annual turnover.

“During 2013-14, 170 customers — out of 49,000 customers — had water flow restrictors put in place,” she said.

“But the good news is that the majority of these restrictions were removed within one to two days.”

Albury Council has been talking far tougher.

Mayor Kevin Mack said earlier this week how all efforts to recover outstanding accounts — the city has 484 customers who each owe more than $600 — had not worked.

“We simply can’t write this off,” he said. “We’ve exhausted all avenues.”

The restrictors allow households to fill a glass water, flush toilets and have enough water for cooking, but appliances such as dishwashers won’t work.

Ms Telford said North East Water customers could explore government assistance or concession options if they were having trouble paying their bills.

“The corporation only places water flow restrictors on properties as a last resort and will always try to work with customers before such measures are taken,” she said.

North East customers with questions about their water account are urged to phone 1300 361 633.

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