From the Newsroom

New water deal could lead to higher water charges

Geoff Helisma

On Tuesday July 20, Clarence Valley Council discussed and made a resolution at a confidential extraordinary meeting, regarding the future of the valley’s and Coffs Harbour’s water supply – on Thursday July 22, Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) made a similar resolution.

However, the decision was made in an open sitting of council, where the general manager hinted that “an increased user charge for … water” could help with “capturing of the critical water supply assets”.

Nonetheless, the confidential documents remained that way at both meetings.

At the CHCC meeting, Cr Paul Amos moved a motion that: “Council seek to partner Clarence Regional [sic] Council in ownership of critical Nymboida water supply assets.”

The CHCC general manager clarified the situation, saying that the councillor’s motion “was covered off in the confidential attachment”.

“It’s inherent, obviously, that is what we are trying to achieve through the ownership of the critical assets of the regional water supply assets,” the general manager said, “…and that would be a joint ownership.

“For absolute clarity, because the regional water supply government framework has not been formalised, at least to accommodate this, it was going to be an impediment to get a quick transfer … which is what the parties want to achieve.

“We participated in the steering committee discussions and had staff in the working party on the basis that Clarence Valley … (pause) it’s covered off in the confidential attachment.

“…that Clarence Valley Council is taking the lead with the asset transfer on behalf of local government and Essential Energy is [inaudible].

“The document in the confidential attachment, and I think I can say this publicly, it was always acknowledged between representatives of the Clarence and our representatives that there needed to be a formalisation of the regional water supply governance framework.”

However, the general manager said that “capturing of the critical water supply assets” could be achieved “either, with a capital contribution or through some mechanism where we pay, maybe, an increased user charge for the water, for example, and operationalise that extent.

“But, in any event, giving us the critical security around our water licence.

“For absolute clarity, to get that governance framework between Clarence and Coffs in its right form, it was going to be a barrier to the swift transfer of these assets in its present form.”

Cr Amos withdrew his motion, “given it is in hand in the confidential report”.

There were no questions or debate and the motion to “note the report” was carried unanimously.