Infrastructure Australia report makes dire prediction about future costs.
Water bills could more than double by 2040 unless steps are taken to reform Australia’s urban water, Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Philip Davies has warned.
Mr Davies said fundamental changes must be made to the governance and regulation of Australia’s urban water markets.
"Unless we act now, we will soon start to experience rising water bills, high taxes or a decline in service quality," Mr Davies said.
Modelling commissioned by Infrastructure Australia shows that without action a typical residential water and sewerage bill could be higher than $2500 in today’s money by 2040.
The urban water sector has a strong track record of providing clean and safe water to more than 20 million people. But the ageing infrastructure which it relies on is costly to maintain and is being put under further strain by climate change and our growing and changing cities.
"If Australians want continued access to safe, reliable and affordable water in the future, we need to begin a staged approach to reforming the sector now – starting with a new national urban water reform plan," Mr Davies said.
Mr Davies said that while reforms of this scale will take time to be rolled out, it is important that our governments get on with the task of initiating reforms now.
"Across Australia many of our dams are relatively full, which gives us a rare window of opportunity for clear thinking and long-term planning to meet our future needs,” he said.
"Now is the time for governments to get on with the job of bringing urban water policy, regulation and governance up to speed so that it can meet the changing needs of Australians in the 21st century," Mr Davies said.
Infrastructure Australia has recommended improvements to long-term planning and pricing frameworks, and enhanced collaboration between regulators.
Read Infrastructure Australia’s full report on urban water services.
Are you worried about the rising cost of utilities? Could you afford to pay an annual water bill of $2500? What would that mean for your retirement budget?