Water bills take a dive

For the first time since 2012, the price of household water and sewerage bills has fallen, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has revealed.

The latest National Performance Report for urban utilities also stated that:

  • the median cost of residential water bills fell by $32 last year, compared with the previous 12 months
  • the median cost of supplying water to all properties fell from $940 in 2015–16, to $892 in 2016–17, representing a five per cent drop
  • the amount of recycled water used nationally fell by six per cent, due to above average levels of rainfall
  • the median volume of water supplied to residential customers remained consistent with previous years.

The report compares the performance of 84 water utilities across the mainland and analyses trends.

“Sixty per cent of water utilities reported a decrease in their typical residential bill in 2016–17,” according to Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) Executive Director Adam Lovell.

“The reduction is a result of efforts by water utilities to drive greater efficiencies, as shown in the five per cent reduction in operating costs. Water utilities continue to seek opportunities for innovation and efficiencies to improve benefits to customers.”

The report, which is in its 12th year, is prepared by the BOM, WSAA and all state and territory governments, other than Tasmania.

It was found that there was a 17 per cent drop in water supplied to South Australians because of above average rainfall that reduced demand for surface and desalinated water.

On a national basis, three per cent more water was delivered to properties. Combined, Melbourne’s commercial and residential customers were the thirstiest, increasing demand by seven per cent. Melburnians recorded the second highest rise in complaints, or 31 per cent more than the previous year.

Sydney residents were the most satisfied, logging 19 per cent fewer complaints than previously. Canberrans recorded 13 per cent more problems, Darwin residents one per cent more and Perth complaints remained steady.

South East Queenslanders’ complaints went up nine per cent, perhaps because the region experienced 13 per cent more unplanned water supply interruptions – the highest number of all regions.

In Western Australia, Water Corporation Perth ‘banked’ 8531 megalitres of desalinated water into storage.

Adelaide residents enjoyed the biggest decrease in water bills at 16 per cent, followed by Sydneysiders, who paid 9 per cent less. Households in Darwin (-6 per cent) and Melbourne (-4 per cent), had the next biggest savings, while water bills for those living in South East Queensland, Perth and Canberra remained stable.

Did you notice you paid less for water last year than previously? Were there any reasons to complain to your water company?

Written by Olga Galacho

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