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Changed pricing structure in water charges

A dry summer and a new pricing structure have impacted on the water bills of many Clarence Valley Council water consumers, according to acting general manager, Ashley Lindsay. Mr Lindsay said council had received a number of inquiries from water customers over the past week after they received their quarterly bills, with many saying they had significant increases in charges. He said circumstances for individual consumers varied, but there were generally two factors impacting on the recent bills. The first was an increase in water consumption over a very dry summer, but the other related to the way water charges were levied. “The average daily water consumption across the Clarence Valley during the 2016/17 summer was about 10% higher than the 2015/16 summer and about 20% higher than in the 2014/15 summer,” he said. “The State Government, through the Department of Primary Industries – Water, requires councils to collect 25% of their water income through fixed charges and the remaining 75% through consumption charges. “Because consumers are now using less water than they once did we found people were paying too much for the fixed charges and not enough for the consumption charges. “In council’s June meeting last year it adopted a new schedule of fees and charges with the aim of bringing those percentages back in line with what is required by the State Government. For most residential consumers we reduced the fixed charges by about $50 but increased their consumption charges by about 24% to balance that out. “What people might find confusing is the reduced fixed charge appears on their general rates bill, but the consumption charge appears on the water bill. “If people find their increases have been excessive, and some of the figures I have seen do sound excessive, they should check for any leaks that might lead to increased consumption.”