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Council defends high water usage charges

An increase in some residents' water bills can be put down to excessive use, says Deniliquin Council general manager Des Bilske.

ZOE MCMAUGH May 13, 2014 4:05am

Many Deniliquin residents are questioning what they say are excessively high water usage charges.

The Pastoral Times received several complaints from angry residents after their water bills arrived on Friday, some indicating a price hike of almost $200 from their last bill.

Deniliquin Council general manager Des Bilske said the increases were more likely associated with water usage and not the computer glitch that affected recent rates notices.

‘‘The computer glitch was about the division of rates, which were split incorrectly, but the overall rates bill was still the same,’’ Mr Bilske said.

‘‘Some people’s water bills may still be reflective of that, but this was from a slightly different billing period as well — water use does tend to increase over summer.

‘‘We also have some people who have used over 800 kilolitres of water in this financial year, which takes them to the higher tier of charges.

‘‘Usage goes up from 60 cents a kilolitre to $1 a kilolitre if you have used more than 800kl (in the financial year).’’

Households receive three water usage charges per year, with the 800kl usage benchmark designed to encourage people to use water more efficiently.

This latest charge would take in the drier summer months and is the last for this financial year.

One ratepayer, who would like to remain anonymous, said her water charges jumped from $70 to $320.

‘‘When we paid the bill last time it was only $70 and we questioned whether it was correct,’’ the ratepayer said.

‘‘Everyone seems to be saying they have had a huge rise in water charges ... it’s not just a little bit and some people are concerned.

‘‘For four months, $320 is a lot and we’re not happy about it. It’s a lot of money and I’m worried about retired people and pensioners — how would they be able to afford it?’’

Another ratepayer said he experienced a similar increase, with his bill jumping from $28 to $150.

‘‘I was a bit surprised to see the bill as there had been no notice of any hike. I don’t know why the bill is so high?

‘‘I have a pretty big water tank, about 10,000 litres, and we always use the last drop of that before the next rain.

‘‘I have also noticed the quality (of tap water) has dropped a bit too. I don’t mind having to pay a little bit extra, but it has got to be worth it.

‘‘We have huge rates already, then we have a water bill like this on top.’’

The bill concerns come as Deniliquin Council prepares to adopt a budget which includes a ‘‘slight’’ increase in water charges.

Mr Bilske said councillors were considering increasing water usage charges by ‘‘a few cents per kilolitre’’ in budget deliberations, but that the water access charge may be reduced to balance it out.

He said council had been listed by the 2012-13 NSW Water Supply Report as having the fourth lowest charges in the state.

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