Cheaper tapwater at last

NORTH East Water customers have been delivered a mid-year bonus with average household water bills to drop about $1 a week this financial year.

Member for Benambra Bill Tilley welcomed the move yesterday.

“Thanks to the Coalition government’s Fairer Water Bill’s initiative, the average household water bill for North East Water customers will drop by $65 each year compared with prices previously approved by the Essential Services Commission,” Mr Tilley said.

The Fairer Water Bill imposed a price freeze on the fixed component of residential water bills and a 10 per cent reduction in water volume fees for North East customers.

A household that used 225 kilolitres in 2013-14 and paid $955 should pay $902 for the same amount this year, but would have paid more if the original approvals had not changed.

The cost relates to both residential and business customers with the usage charge dropping from $2.36 to $2.12 per kilolitre of water.

An average homeowner paid $848 and renters $472 for water in 2013-14.

Water prices in Victoria are approved by the Essential Services Commission.

Mr Tilley said the government was committed to driving down the cost of living.

“We asked water corporations to provide advice on potential productivity and efficiency gains within their businesses which could be adopted to help deliver lower household water bills,” he said.

“North East Water identified capital cost savings and operational cost savings.

“They will be delivered without compromising service standards or existing hardship protections that assist vulnerable customers.

North East Water has resumed control of the Wodonga wastewater treatment plant from a private operator and recently sold its former offices to Wodonga Council for $1.2 million.

It has also reduced energy costs by shifting demand to off-peak rates.

Mr Tilley denied the timing of the announcement was a pre-election vote grab.

“It is all about cost of living pressures,” he said. “This has been coming for a long time.”