Starting 1 July 2016, a new water access and water usage charge system commenced, replacing the previous tier system and providing a standardised cost across the Tablelands region. Now, wherever you live within the Tablelands region, you will be charged the same price for accessing water and the same cost per kilolitre for water usage.
Water consumption charge
Any water used from the last read date of your most recent rates notice, through to the reading in January 2017, will be charged at 56 cents per kilolitre. This water charge will be billed in the rate notice to be issued in February 2017.
Water access charge
The annual charge to access water will be $466 per user, household, property or business, effective 1 January 2017. It will be levied on the half yearly rate notice issued in February 2017, with the six monthly chage being $233 (or 50% of the annual total). This water calculator will estimate your six monthly charge based on your previous rate notice.
New household water charges
Frequently asked questions
Why have water charges changed?
Water charges have been adjusted to ensure all premises incur the same cost for water services, regardless of location, providing an equitable outcome for property owners. Water charges now represent the real costs of providing water throughout the Tablelands region.
Why did the old charges not represent the real costs?
The previous charges were inherited from the three former shires and no longer reflect the true costs of operating our water schemes. They do not fully take into account the costs of maintaining, renewing or upgrading our water infrastructure. We have combined all of our water schemes across the region so that we can better understand and manage our water costs now and into the future. Rather than continuing the old three shires water charges we have introduced a single water charge that enables us to recover the necessary costs across all users. If we maintained the old charging structure, and adjusted it to recover the necessary costs we have identified, it would be harder to manage water scheme costs for each of the former shire areas and the likelihood is that costs for all users would be higher than under the new scheme.
Why has the cost per kilolitre gone up by so much?
Previous access and usage charges varied significantly depending on which former shire a user was in. Under the new charges we have had to standardise consumption costs based on the costs of providing water to users. We have also had to do this for water access charges.
Access charges share the fixed costs of operating our water schemes between users e.g. pipes, pumps, treatment facilities etc. These costs do not vary according to usage and represent water treatment and reticulation assets and maintenance. The consumption charge represents all other variable costs and associated recoveries and these are also shared between users based on the kilolitres used e.g. chlorine, electricity etc. We have developed a detailed water cost recovery model which helps us set access and consumption charges to equitably distribute all costs across users.
Why are Atherton users paying more?
In order to standardise water charges across all users and ensure that all costs are recovered, some users’ will have to pay more and some will pay less. This is always a difficulty when bringing three separate charging schemes (from the former shires) together but we have tried to make sure it is as fair and equitable as possible. Overall this is one-off adjustment to bring all user charges in line. Over time the cost of water for users should be lower under the new charges as there will be less administrative work and future upgrades to specific water schemes will be spread over all users. It will also enable us to prioritise work based on the greatest need and ensure water quality is improved and provided at a consistent standard across the region. We are now a single local government area and our water services and charges need to reflect that. Additionally we need to consider that, if the costs of specific scheme upgrades were just paid by the users of those schemes, water costs could become unaffordable for some communities.
How are businesses affected by the changes?
All users will now pay the same access and water charges regardless of whether they are a business or household. This is the simplest and most equitable way of allocating costs to users. Water costs do not vary according to what kind of user you are because we need to provide access to water and water infrastructure to serve the needs of all our community members. The thing that does affect our costs is how much water people actually use or may need to use. This is why we have introduced a single usage/consumption charge for every kilolitre of water used so that the people using our water are paying the costs of providing that water.
How did you decide on this type of charging method? What other councils use this type of scheme?
Water charging methods vary across local governments. The method we are adopting is favoured by progressive councils as it is simple to manage, apply and understand. Cairns Regional Council uses a similar charging method and Cassowary Coast Regional Council has access charges according to meter size and a two tier usage charge. Mareeba Shire Council charge for water use by scheme/township. Each scheme has a different set of charges in terms of the access charge and a two tier variable usage charge. Mareeba town water users pay about 57 cents for their first 550 kilolitres and $1.15 for every kilolitre over that. Their residential access charge is approximately $393. Under the new charging method, a typical residential water bill will still be less in TRC than the state average.
My water quality is not as good as other towns, why am I paying the same?
All our water services comply with Australian Water Quality Guidelines. The costs of providing water on this basis is shared equitably throughout the region under the new charges. Also, as we are now operating a whole of TRC water scheme, we can prioritise our water improvement program to ensure water quality is improved over time.
Why don’t we have usage tiers anymore?
The cost per kilolitre to provide water is the same regardless of how much water is used. We considered usage tiers but found it hard to set them in a way that was fair and equitable for all users. Put simply you pay for what you use and that is charged at what it costs us to provide the water.
Why has my household/business’s water access charge dropped but my consumption charge has gone up?
Previous charges depended on which former shire you were in and how they originally chose to recover the costs of their water schemes. We are now charging the same for all water users which is fairer and more equitable across all TRC communities. When comparing the old and new water charges you should consider your total water bill rather than just compare access or usage charges.
What can I do to keep my consumption charges down?
There are plenty of tips on saving water on the internet or visit our water conservation page for ideas.