Canberrans will be paying more for their water and sewerage from July, with a typical household dishing out an extra $6 a quarter.
The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has set the 2021-22 water and sewerage prices for the capital region, with a typical household that uses 200 kilolitres of water per year facing a 2 per cent increase to their combined water and sewerage bill, or about 45 cents extra a week.
For non-residential customers, bill changes will range from increases of up to $7.64 per week to decreases of up to $26.12 per week, depending on water consumption and the number of toilets installed.
A mid-level non-residential customer consuming 5,000 kL per annum with 50 toilets fixtures installed will mean their bill will decrease by $8.33 per week, or $433 a year, a decrease of 0.9 per cent.
Icon Water says the 2021-22 price changes were consistent with the ICRC’s direction for the 2018-23 period, which allowed for a gradual increase of the supply charge paired with a decrease of Tier 1 and 2 usage prices from 2017-18 levels.
The ICRC said that last year Icon Water was allowed to raise prices by up to 1.52 per cent, but it decided to freeze water prices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But this year, Icon Water indicated that it would ‘unfreeze’ water prices, meaning that the actual increase in the combined bill of 2 per cent was the combined effect of this year’s maximum price change of 0.4 per cent and the maximum price change for last year.
“Icon Water’s decision to freeze prices last year meant that it would forgo the additional revenue it was entitled to earn under last year’s price reset,” Senior Commissioner Joe Dimasi said.
“This year’s 2 per cent increase will bring prices back to the normal trajectory of the maximum price level that it is allowed to charge. However, Icon Water cannot recover the foregone revenue.”
He said the slight increase in residential customer bills versus the decrease in non-residential customer bills was because sewerage charges make up a greater portion of non-residential bills as they typically have more toilets.
“So the decreases in sewerage charges from last year affect non-residential bills more than residential bills,” Mr Dimasi said.
The Precinct Charge developers pay to Icon Water to fund infrastructure upgrades will increase to $1,200 per equivalent population, up from $1,100 in 2020–21, reflecting Icon Water’s forecast higher spending on projects.
Throughout 2021–22, Icon Water expects to spend more than $22.1 million renewing the High Voltage Assets at Canberra’s primary sewage treatment plant, which will ensure sewage continues to be treated and disinfected safely and reliably before being released back into the environment.
Icon Water says it will also spend more than $17 million upgrading the capacity of the Belconnen Trunk Sewer main to enable the sewer network to service Canberra’s growing population.
“Icon Water provides essential water and sewerage services to the Canberra community. To do so, we operate and maintain assets worth over $2.6 billion, comprising the ACT’s network of dams, water and sewerage treatment plants, reservoirs, pumping stations, mains and more,” said Icon Water Managing Director Ray Hezkial.
“We will continue to deliver our services in a sustainable and efficient way, supporting the ACT community and providing our customers with value for their money.”
Icon Water has a range of flexible payment options available to support those seeking long or short-term financial assistance through payment arrangements tailored to suit individual needs.
Its Staying Connected hardship program is available to assist residential and small business customers needing more personalised support with flexible and affordable payment plans.
“We also want to hear from [our customers] – we will soon be launching an engagement platform so we can receive community feedback on what’s important to our customers when it comes to your water and sewerage services,” Mr Hezkial said.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), market factors, and government charges also contributed to the price settings.
For more information about 2021–22 water and sewerage pricing, visit iconwater.com.au/pricing.
Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.